Images of America

A Social and Historical Look
at America Through the Movies


Study Guide - Casablanca (1942)

Director : Michael Curtiz

Stars :
Humphrey Bogart .... Rick Blaine
Ingrid Bergman .... Ilsa
Paul Henreid .... Victor Laszlo
Claude Rains .... Capt. Renault
Conrad Veidt .... Maj. Strasser
Sydney Greenstreet .... Signor Ferrari
Peter Lorre .... Ugarte
Dooley Wilson .... Sam

Preparation :
Read the movie review at filmsite.org

Historical/Social Significance :
Important as an example of a propaganda war film.

Has in the background important historical topics including occupied France, occupied Czechoslovakia, the Resistance and the Vichy Government.

Touched on issues contemporary to the day in which it was made, including European refugees escaping Europe looking to get out of the war zone.

Synopsis :
Rick opens a cafe in Casablanca hoping to escape the war that is taking place in Europe. Then the war comes to him.

    Guided Questions for Viewing :
    Assessment questions will be based on the following :
  • "Made during the early part of World War II, Casablanca aligned the power of individuality with the power of the community. The 1942 film not only portrays a sense of unity between specific characters (allegorically representing nations), but also helped solidify American political sentiments about American involvement in WW II." Discuss this statement in terms of the movie.
  • Casablanca is considered a great propaganda war film. Discuss this statement with reference to specific scenes in the movie.
  • It has been suggested that Rick represents America and it's isolationist policy at the beginning of the war. Discuss Rick's transformation as the movie goes on.
  • Do you think the movie would have better if Ilsa went off with Rick at the end? Defend your position.
  • Captain Renault was a character that represented the two sides of the French people during the war year (The Vichy and the Free French). Discuss this duality with reference to the movie.
  • Rick and Lazlo can be said to represent two different types of heroism. How would you categorize each one as a hero? What qualities, if any, do they share? How do they most differ from each other?
  • How is Ilsa characterized in this film? Would it be fair to say that the main female character in Casablanca is merely an object that men would like to possess? Is Ilsa a heroic character?


Sources:
Dirks, Tom. "Casablanca. " http://filmsite.org/caca.html



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