Friday, July 6, 2007

The Performance That Changed my Life is...

This is my entry for All About My Movies' blogathon.


How did it "change my life?" A better question is "how did it not?" This performance, combined with the superb writing and directing, not only make for my 4th favorite film of all time, but also for a life-changing experience.

What makes this "life changing" is that it teaches the hardest lesson a film can teach: love. A very common moral, but the execution is anything but commmon. The famed ending where Rick leaves Ilsa is, on the surface, the unhappy ending everyone talks about. But a truly open-minded viewer would recognize that this is the happiest ending possible. Had Ilsa stayed in Casablanca with Rick, it would only be prolonging misery for both of them. Rick would either be prosecuted, be a fugitive or be killed, and Ilsa would suffer the same fate. But Rick, being farsighted, recognizes that. Love, he teaches us, is not the deisre to be with someone. It is wanting someone to be happy and safe at any cost. I have yet to see a film convey that message so powerfully.

Of course, the above sounds like it is describing the film and the character itself. However, I wouldn't have begun to pick up on those concepts had it not been for Mr. Bogart's understanding of them. Most actors would see the classic line "we'll always have Paris" as meaning "I'll never forget you." Bogart, however, sees it (properly) as meaning "I'll miss you, but I know we can't be together." That delivery alone is enough to impact the viewer. His other fantastic work in the film is icing on the cake. Delicious icing, might I add.

Humphrey Bogart's performance in the timeless classic "Casablanca" is my pick as the performance that changed my life, by teaching me and the world what love and doing the right thing really is. His remarkably understated, simply phenomenal performance is one of the key elements in making "Casablanca" legendary. And what an element it is...

1 comment:

Hedwig said...

Ah, this is a wonderful performance indeed. Just the scene in which he's introduced is perfect: the shot of the check, his signing it, then the cigarette bringing us to his face.

Great entry!