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Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Author:Syd Field [Field, Syd]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Reference, General
ISBN: 9780307423269
Google: 5GgXl7h5qvQC
Amazon: 0385339038
Publisher: Delta
Published: 2005-11-29T05:00:00+00:00


The Scene

RICK:

"Inside both of us, we both know you belong

with Victor. ... If that plane leaves the

ground and you're not with him, you'll regret

it—oh, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow,

but soon, and for the rest of your life."

ILSA:

"What about us?"

RICK:

"We'll always have Paris. We didn't have it;

we'd lost it before you came to Casablanca.

We got it back last night. . . . lisa, I'm no

good at being noble, but it doesn' t take

much to see that the problems of three lit-

tle people don't amount to a hill of beans

in this crazy world. . . . Someday you'll un-

derstand that. Here's looking at you, kid."

—Casablanca

Julius and Philip Epstein,

Howard Koch

Casablanca is an extraordinary film experience, one of those rare and magical moments that reside deep within our

collective film consciousness. What makes it such a great

film? What makes it stand out so vividly in the fabric of our film experience? Many things, of course, but in own my

personal opinion, Rick is a character who, through his words and actions, sacrifices his life for the higher good. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell says the hero

has "to die in order to be reborn." When Casablanca begins, Rick has been living in the past, harboring the emotional

pain of his lost love affair with lisa. When she reenters his life, Rick

— THE SCENE—

161

laments, "Of all the lousy gin joints, in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine," and we know it's time for him to deal with, confront, and embrace the past.

What makes Bogart so memorable in this film? I think it's

a combination of two things: his screen persona and the part itself, which morphs into Bogart's mythological stature. In

their screenplay, Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch

have fashioned a character who is tough and fearless and

possessed of a strong moral center and the proverbial heart

of gold. He's one of the "good guys," and his action at the end of the film, letting Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and Usa (Ingrid Bergman) escape to Lisbon to continue their fight

against the Germans, serves a much higher purpose than

would his and lisa's personal love affair. "I'm no good at being noble," he tells lisa, "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."

By his actions, Rick is transformed; he has sacrificed his

own personal love for lisa to aid and benefit the Allies in

defeating the Nazis.

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to

something bigger than oneself," Joseph Campbell says. If you look at the template of the classical "hero" throughout myth and literature, Rick's action elevates him to the stature of a contemporary hero. "Life consists in action," Aristotle said, "and its end is a mode of action, not a quality." The same with Hamlet, or Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, or Neo

in The Matrix: characters who have overcome their doubts

and fears, then pushed them aside and acted. It is this action that elevates them into the realm of "heroic figures.



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