Second Essay Question: Deconstruct a scene from one of the film’s we’ve seen this semester. Address how the director used the actors, dialogue, lighting, camera movement, sound, editing, and production design to get their point across in the film.
Casablanca was released in 1942 by the director Michael Curtiz. The film was considered one of the best motion pictures ever made. The film’s actors, strong emotions, and loving triangle all helped out in having a classical film.
The last scene in Casablanca where Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) were saying their final goodbyes as an airplane was in the background setting was one of the greatest scenes in the history of cinematic.
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart):
Rick Blaine was the owner of Rick’s Café Américain. He apparently appears in the whole film to be a man who is not moved by anyone. He refuses to take drinks from the customers of the café. He also didn’t seem to care about the war and that refugees have gathered in Casablanca. From the start of the film and Rick shows himself as a mysterious and complicated man but on the other hand he is also generous, discriminating, and political.
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After Ilsa has arrived to Casablanca, flashbacks came across Ricks mind and reminded him of the time they spent in Paris. He appeared to be so much happier than he is without her. Another difference is also that back in Paris he was called Richard. After the attack of the Nazis, Rick and Ilsa agreed to leave Paris together. But Ilsa stood Rick up in the train station, and this was their separation. Rick was in so much pain of what Ilsa did to him and suffered from heartbreak. After that, Ilsa showed up at the bar, Rick reacted so angrily and refused to give her and Victor Laszlo the letters they need of transit.
Finally, at the end of the film Rick becomes the hero and he sacrifices his love to Ilsa and his life in Casablanca so that Victor Laszlo can get away with Ilsa and finish his political work.
So basically there were three characters that Ricks appeared in the movie with. First, In Paris he was so romantic, then in Casablanca he was hard-hearted, and finally at the end of the film he appeared to be self sacrificing hero (Turner, Casablanca, 1999).
Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman):
Ilsa is extremely loyal to her husband, Victor Laszlo. She believes she love Laszlo, but on the other hand she also says that she is in love with Rick, back when they were in Paris and also after she arrived to Casablanca. She had a very good reason to tell Rick that she loves him when she was in Casablanca so that she can get the letters of transit that she needs. Her feelings are always dreamy and vague which makes it hard to understand her right. Long time ago when Rick was in Paris, she sent him some letters claiming that she can’t see him anymore. And that now can be a proof of her capability to protect her real feelings from those people who loves her.
From all the characters in Casablanca, Ilsa was one of the most people who clearly had a lot of pain from the unexpected change of wealth. First of all, her husband Victor got arrested and reported to be dead. Then, when he came, she was supposed to escape with him throughout Europe with the Nazis. After that, in Casablanca she met Rick once again and fell in love with him all over, but unfortunately she was suppose to leave him once again. Ilsa didn’t had an easy life, and one of the greatest tragic in the whole film is her fate. Finally, at the closing scene of the film, we can feel that the chances of Ilsa living happily ever after ending do not exist.
Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid):
One of the main characters in Casablanca is Victor Laszlo, who is the least complicated person. He is an absolute noble hero. Victor Laszlo is a handsome and confident man. His wife was Ilsa and he loves her so much to the extent that when he knew about her and Rick he accepted the fact and claimed he understands. He was ready to give anything for Ilsa to get away safely from Casablanca. Victor likes politics. His want of beating the Nazis is the best ambition for all the actions he ever took. He places himself as a favored to battle through it. As much as Victor Laszlo is priceless to the Allies as much as he is critical to the Nazis.
Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains):
Louis is not a man of strong opinion, but was a friend to whoever had power. He never likes Strasser’s believes but he works with him. For a part in the film, Louis was shown as a careless and selfish man who cared about absolutely nothing but himself. He takes advantage of pretty women refugees and usually gets fixed winnings from the casino of Rick. He told Rick not to count on him as a friend, but he couldn’t hide his feelings for his friend (Rick). Towards the ending scene of the film, the men committed to their friendship when they committed themselves to the Allied cause. Rick committed by shooting Strasser and letting Ilsa escape with Victor out of Casablanca, while Louis committed by choosing to get away from Casablanca along with Rick.
Lighting: The lighting has a great effect on the mood of the whole film. At the beginning of the movie most of the scenes and shots were brighter than when the film came towards the end where they were darker. There was a scene close to the ending scene of the film in Rick’s café where Victor Laszlo was taking refuge after the meeting was attacked. The scene inside the café was at night and it had an absolutely low key lighting. The drama of the movie was being built slowly through the beginning up till the end of the movie. The dimness of the film increases the drama and the worry of the viewers more. The shots towards the end of the film become more extreme due to the gap among special parts of the shots. This Chiaroscuro effect also helped in raising the worry due to the clear bright lights and deep dark shades. Against the light of the background, there was Captain Renault, a poster boy, wearing his black uniform. Those two were shots from the final scene when Rick holds Captain Renault as a hostage and pressure him into letting Victor Laszlo getaway. Moreover, there was a fog in this final scene in the airfield, that had a gray invading of the scene and actors, which generate a feeling of suspicious. That resulted in making the viewers not knowing how the fight is going to be solved. Here the lighting technique was sharp and differs from the cinematography that is in all the other parts of the film.
Sound: The director used the sound in this scene effectively. While filming the movie, he discovered that the sound stage was very small to be suitable to an actual airplane. So he decided to put the actors on a soundstage at Warner Bros where there was no real airplane. He also puts up half and quarter size models of Lockheed Electra 12A. The scene was raped around the machine that produces fog to cover up the artificiality of the background set. In this last scene of the movie, the actors never left the soundstage of the airplane.
Also, towards the last scene of the movie, there was a shot that shows very quick two aircraft engines that has dramatic noise from the strong piston engines driving up and the fan spinning round in a high speed. One of the shots was showing the right side of the engine of the aircraft. And the other shot shows the left side of the engine. Along with those shots, the fog was being spread to go with the cloudy smoggy look that covers the rest of the closing scene. The director was so talented in making a great job in sound editing so that the sound of the engines makes the film mix together well with the soundstage of the film.
Camera Movements and Dialogue: The ending scene of Casablanca had many camera movement techniques. After Captain Renault (Claude Rains) and Victor Laszlo depart, the camera starts to follow Rick and Ilsa, where it was neither of their view points. The camera was from the side. After that, Rick sends Ilsa to escape with Victor.
After a cut away to Captain Renault, the camera builds up again to highlight the remarkable conversation; the camera was also from the side. As the camera follows up again at the final minute it shifts to Rick. Then the camera goes into a series of reverse angle shots first from Rick to Ilsa, then to Rick again, then to Ilsa, then to Rick again, and finally back to Ilsa one more time. The camera shifted either to the face of the person who was talking or to the other person. There was a hidden meaning in these shifts of the camera. It either meant stressing the conversation or drawing attention to understanding what is said.
Another frame got both characters (Rick and Ilsa) in, that changed into an analytical point of view shot of Ilsa. Her tears were glowing in her eyes and the feeling of the light was becoming softer at her face. At the same time, Rick was talking to her and said “I’m not good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” After that, Ilsa dropped down her chin, because she felt that she was crushed by fate. Then Rick’s hands held Ilsa’s chin and raised it up again saying “Now, now “. And this was a close up in the camera movement.
After that there was a cut of the point of view of Ilsa, and the hidden meaning here is so that women viewers will be able to understand her situation. Rick said “Here’s looking at you kid”. Then a shot of a close up happened again, where it demonstrates that Ilsa understood that Rick wants the best for her and that she accepted his decision of letting her escape with her husband. Then there was a cut back to the point of view of the guy that she really loves.
After that the emotions stopped for a few seconds with a fast cut away to Major Strasser, who is the Nazi commander in charge of Casablanca, who was walking fast to reach to the airport. The camera then goes back to the airport, where a private conversation was held between Rick and Victor who were facing each other. Ilsa was at the background of the scene trying to wipe her tears away.
Then there was a fast shot of Captain Renault from Rick’s point of view. There was again couple of reverse angles which were used to highlight the speaker’s conversation. First, from Victor’s point of view there was a fast cut away to Rick’s point of view of Ilsa. Here all three of them were in the frame together. And she backs up what Rick is saying. The shot after that returns to Rick then to Victor’s face who believed what Rick said and accepted his brave explanation.
Then there was a three shot right after the two shots of Rick and Victor, with Ilsa on the right side wiping her tears away and she was considered in the staging position. Then a shot went back to Rick and Victor alone when Victor was saying: “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”
After that a shot went to the engines of the plane. Then there was a three shot of the characters looking at the plane. Then a few series of close ups follows with a great awareness of the eyes of the actors as they act in response to the actions. First, Rick looks at the plane then at Ilsa, and Ilsa looked back at him, then both Rick and Ilsa looked at Victor, then Victor looked right into Ilsa and said: “Are you ready, Ilsa?”, so she turned her head for the last time and looks at Rick, then at Victor and she said: “Yes, I’m ready.” In this scene Rick is giving up on Ilsa and making her getaway with Victor, and Ilsa on the other hand is accepting Rick’s decision in letting her go.
Next, a cut to a wide shot of all the three actors appeared. Ilsa stepped in front and the camera movement started following in and to the left to set up some characters’ significant. For the first time, Ilsa stands next to Victor and Rick was alone facing them. Ilsa said: “Good-bye, Rick”. Then there was a close up of Ilsa’s face that softly softened the light at her face and completed saying: “God bless you.”
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Next, there was a high angle shot of Rick, the Director is trying to emphasize that we are looking for the first time down to Rick, because Ilsa was gone from his life forever, and was back with Victor. Then he said: “You’d better hurry. You’ll miss that plane.” We were seeing this scene from Victor’s point of view because now the couple is Ilsa and Victor.
After that, the camera was far away from the staging position when Ilsa and Victor were walking away towards the plane. That scene was taken again from Rick’s point of view, where he was seeing both of them walking out of his life. And by that he realized the generous sacrifice he has done.
After that, the camera showed a reverse angle shot of Victor and Ilsa, as a couple this time, walking to the camera. Then they looked at one another and we can see that Ilsa was trying to hold herself together. And as they get closer to the camera, we see that Victor was slowly cut off when the camera was slowly moving to the left side. The director wanted to focus the attention here on Ilsa’s face because she was walking away from the man she loves. After that the camera cuts into a close up to Rick alone in the frame (Turner, Casablanca, 1999).
After that, the camera cut away to both Captain Renault when Major Strasser just came. Major Strasser tries to make a phone call for help, when Rick asked him not to, but since he didn’t respond, Rick shot him. Then the police arrived, and in few seconds Captain Renault said:” Round up the usual suspects”. Now, Rick and Captain Renault are alone at the closing scene of the film. They watched the plane as it took off from both their point of view and then from a revered angle shot. The director tries here to make the viewers feel the loss of Rick in his eyes. After that another revered angle shot to their point of view appeared then the plane faded away within the fog (Turner, Casablanca, 1999).
Finally, Rick and Captain Renault walked away together. Then the camera gets into a crane shot by rising up by looking down in a high angle shot at them as they keep walking from the staging position. Then Rick says: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Then as they continue walking the music arise (Turner, Casablanca, 1999).
As for this Dialogue, the beautiful friendship that will start to begin between Rick and Captain Renault was the last closing sentence in Casablanca.
Moreover, the dialogue of Casablanca was all filmed on a soundstage, but that doesn’t make it any less of great dialogue.
The editing of Casablanca was attractive and high in excellence. At the closing scene of the film, the close ups of the airplane with the engines represented the scene as if it was in a real airport with a real plane, and was so hard to find out that all of that was acting in front of a fake plane. Moreover, when the shot was on the airplane taking off, it appeared that the first part of the airplane was the real one and the second part was the studio effect.
All together, the story, casting, acting, dialogue, staging, music, sound, lighting, camera movement, editing, and production are so great that viewers just cared about what’s happening, not about how the film was created and done.
Third Essay Question:
Some historians argue that films reflect the political and social mores of society at the time of its creation, is this accurate statement? Is the subject matter of the movies we’ve watched driven by society or does society drive the entertainment industry to create films within a specific moral, social, or political context? Discuss.
More frequently, American movies reflected the absolute influence of the society. The industry is willing to sell more products. That case was mainly right when it came to studio era.
J. Dudley Andrew, who is a movie scholar, saw and noticed that in The Major Film Theories: “A natural rapport grew up between the public which went to the movies weekly and the producers who needed to supply the people with a variant of what they liked and were used to.” (Gehring, 1997).
Some movies influence society. For instance: “Star Wars” it still has a continuing force, which was released again in 1997. Gehring, who is a professor and an author of lots of film books, his occupation covered a some of his adolescence of the 1967s which is called dark comedy to get back on the1930s fashion of clothings.
Hollywood tries to safegaurd its contribution, because they are not new nor warrantied. Furthermore, the film production is more involved in reflecting society’s desires and needs than in directing them. People who puts all the responsibility and guilt on Hollywood for the most part of the society’s troubles are not noticing nor considering real life mores and films (Gehring, 1997).
The fiction part in Hollywood has been acknowledged for a long time by the majority of critics and reviewers of the genre between high art and mass culture. For the common audience of those fictions, there has been a lot of questioning about the behavior and sexual mortality in the film trade; there was also a concern about the moral value of films and their impact on the society as a whole (Springer, 2008).
Some Hollywood movies reflect social attitudes or generalize from specific films. Fictional films are very difficult and hard to make. Social products are completed, distributed, and received by the audience. The critics examine completely in order to evaluate their roles as historical evidence. For instance: it is too risky to take into consideration only some films from a particular period of time as an easy reflection to the American society. Furthermore, the attitudes that are represented in a particular film might symbolize a chain of compromises cautiously designed to be non-offensive. Also, some individual firms and companies might point out indicate very unusual attitudes toward race relations or women’s rights for example.
Approaches about class, gender, ethnicity, work, and all other aspects of life are represented in fictional films and movies as they are novels and plays. As a mass visual entertainment, those fictional films reflect the social attitudes in a precise dramatic manner.
Some movies which were released from 1915 to about 1955 were America’s mainly popular structure of narrative entertainment. At that time, movies tended to be targeted to larger group of audience, who are even larger than most of the audience of plays and novels. Moreover, movies by then reflected social attitudes more precisely than any other medium, as they got into the maximum number of people. The huge amount of audience doesn’t necessarily mean that movies in America characterized all points of view. In filming a movie, directors and staff tries to avoid certain controversial points of view in order not to offend a huge number of people. Also, the producers of films try not to insult any wide groups of people and they normally stay away from political controversial, so that they can be able to sell the film internationally to make profit.
A film that is driven by the society is basically stating what’s really happening in the real world in a movie. Some movie directors try to reflect the picture of what’s happening in the world or society by exaggerating a little more. Other film directors might just mirror real life in their movies. Others might be brave and in their movies that they show what is hidden in the society and represent it in their movies. A great example of a movie that is driven by the society could be Casablanca. Since it was filmed during War World II and it has some political and social mores of the society. Another example is the movie Amadeus, since it was a story about the lives of Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, who are two composers and that was during the latter half of the 18th century
On the contrary, some movie director wants to add something to the society or want to drive a new idea or message into it, so they do that in their movies. This is what it’s called society drives the entertainment industry to create films within a specific moral, social, or political context. Those kinds of movies are more open minded, because it requires more creativity and imagination to come up with something new more than the movies that are driven by the society. Most of those kinds of movies are imaginary movies.
Another issue of argument of the same field might be that modern society is addicted to media entertainment. Simply, people in society couldn’t live without all the noises, the images, the technology we’ve reached to nowadays.
Media and films might affect society as well. It could have positive or negative influence on people. For example, violence movies might affect children, teenagers, or adults as well. They might get influenced unconsciously with what they watch in those violent movies. It can affect one’s moral values, political, and social mores and make them more aggressive. Moreover, films of teenagers drinking or dealing with drugs also affect adolescence negatively. On the other hand, movies that have great morals affect people positively. For example, movies that might deal with family gathering throughout the whole film, can teach the audience the importance and the value of a family.
In conclusion, a lot of writers, historians, and people argue about weather films reflect our political and social mores of our society or vice versa. The subject of the matter here is still and will remain a subject of argument and discussion, although it defers from one movie to another. Some movies combine both. For instance, a movie can be driven by society and also could be that society drove the entertainment industry to create the film or parts of it within a specific social moral and political context.
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