Long before the modern city of Washington there was the ancient city of Casablanca. Then, long after both, there was the 1942 film classic: Casablanca. Now while Washington is usually portrayed in films as a power & secret drenched city, in the film Casablanca is portrayed as a metaphor for American courage. Which is why the Bogart/ Bergman hit is on every Top Ten film list. Especially among each succeeding generation of college students.
Perhaps Casablanca becomes a metaphor for all the things most Americans most like to think of themselves….
We tend to see ourselves as did our forefathers — a people facing enormous odds and sweeping struggles. Once it was the dangers of the frontier. In the film it’s the dangers of the world’s bloodiest war. The one we like to call the “good war” because, unlike most wars, there appeared to be real evil and real choices to be made.
We also like to see ourselves in these struggles as facing personal challenges. Challenges that demand of us heroic responses. In the film, Bogart is personally caught up in this struggle by being forced to choose sides.
We especially like to see ourselves as reluctant warriors. Decent people of peace who will strap on those 6-guns only when the bad guys force our hand. But once the sleeping giant has been aroused, there can be no ending but a victorious ending. As Bogie proves with quiet skill and courage versus the Nazi guile and deceit.
Naturally, as American we expect a good love story in here somewhere. What is life and struggle for but to come out with that special someone deeply folded into our arms and lips. Bogie and Bergman deliver big time.
Finally, Americans intuitively require of their movies a generous dash of concluding honor. What more memorably honorable ending is there in Hollywood’s treasure trove than the foggy-night ending where Bogie gives up the girl for the cause? Sad but ennobling enough to turn the audience’s tears into pride.
Oh, one more thing. Casablanca ends with something all Americans devoutly wish for. A buddy ending in which, if we can’t walk into tho sunset with the girl, we do it with the friend.
Among today’s Washington clamor and crises, I think we might do well by requiring every official In that city to watch — sitting down together! — just how Bogie & Bergman do what we all need to do…
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