Lighting Due to the nature of colorless visual works, it can be said that the importance of lighting and shadows are amplified many times over in the case of Casablanca. Since the audience does not receive the luxury and sensation of numerous hues, an alternative is thus required on the part of the filmmakers. And with that, an analysis of filmic lighting comes into play. Immediately following the opening credits, the screen is engulfed by a planet Earth nearly as black as charcoal.
Paired with the music in this initial image, the light or lack thereof helps to establish the mood of the entire film. It can be said that this portrayal foreshadows the coming chaos and solemnity of later scenes such as when Ilsa abruptly abandons Rick upon receiving news of her husband being alive, or in more general terms, the majority of the encounters between Ilsa and Rick as they do not even end up together at the very end. As for a specific analysis tied to the nature of black and white films, the scene in which Sam gives Ilsa’s letter to Rick is one that cannot easily be forgotten.
With the rain that day, the ink on the paper was already smudged by the time Rick read the message. Despite the obvious indication that the writing and smudges were both in and of ink, the nature of colorless shots allows for the imaginations of the audience to take them away. The color of blood in a black and white film is so dark that it might as well be the color of tar or ink. Thus, smudges of blood on the paper could indicate the physical pain on both sides for the separation. Perhaps the best example of emotional appeal to an audience on the part of Casablanca is the singing of the patriotic French anthem Marseillaise as the mother of film critic J. Hoberman witnessed people standing up during that scene to sing along in a public theater. Thus, this sort of patriotic involvement on the part of this film really goes a long way in appeal to audiences.
However, with specific ties to lighting, there is appreciation to include. During a later visit to Rick’s bar, Ilsa’s husband, Victor Laszlo spontaneously gets the band to start playing a French anthem by the name of Marseillaise. What is interesting to note here though is not anything that Laszlo did, but how he was physically portrayed during the song. Although he wasn’t in the center of the frame,
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