Friday, February 25, 2011

Set aside your politics and consider the cultural insight

OK, be warned. I am going to link you to a conservative blog where a conservative guy is trying to distinguish between conservative and liberal movies.

I honestly don't care if you skip most of it, but Kurt Schlichter's final riff on "Casablanca" really made sense to me. Here he isn't talking so much about political assumptions, but about very human ideas of what is most important and how that is conveyed on film. Yes, he's talking about "our civilization's survival" by the end of it, but the fight he's describing in this bit is not with external enemies, it's with ourselves.

[Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no 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. Someday you’ll understand that.]

Let’s assume there is still a director out there who would allow that many lines of dialogue in a row without a shaky camera jump cut. Even then, we’d still get Victor Laszlo as an uptight, probably Christian, creep with the unreasonable expectation that his wife not start banging another man just because she finds him sexy. Instead of sending her away, Rick would probably tell off Mr. Jesus J. Stickuphisrear, then he and Ilsa would jump on the plane together. Let other people deal with the Nazis – inconveniences like honor and duty just get in the way of validating one’s own feelings! Plus, they’d probably cast Ashton Kutcher as Rick and Katherine Heigl as Ilsa. And switch the location to Vegas. And change the Nazis into CIA agents. And make Sam into a streetwise hustler played by 50 Cent, who could also do a hip-hop version of As Time Goes By that somehow incorporates the phrase “my bitches.”

No, the fact is that sometimes your problems don’t amount to a hill of beans, that you have to make hard choices and do the right thing even where – gasp! – it might make you feel bad. Casablanca is easy to take because of great actors, a great script, and a great story, but its message is strong medicine. And, as we enter a second decade of (open) warfare for our civilization’s survival, it could not be timelier.

The sad thing is, I could see Hollywood making a crap version of "Casablanca" like the one he's making up here. Think that 1995 Demi Moore "Scarlet Letter." h/t Sarah


The Archer of the Forest said...

Ironically, even the producers didn't know what Casablanca was about until the very final cut. They were filming and had about 4 completely different operative scripts. They finally hodgepodged it all together and somehow it became a classic. The Studio bosses were about to pull the plug on it like 10 times because the filming process was total chaos.

The Archer of the Forest said...

I would also think it would be extremely hard, if not impossible, to apply post-modern "conservative" and "liberal" labels to films from over two generation ago. What those labels connote in modern parlance had not yet evolved in the popular parlance in the late 1930's and early 1940's.

"Conservatives" in the 1930's were more like non-interventionist, Hoover-ites, that thought things like Social Security and FEMA were Red commie plots. Even the most conservative folks today were asking "Where was FEMA during the Katrina disaster." Conservatives in the 30's would have been horrified at the idea of the Federal government intervening in a "local" event like, say a Mississippi flood or a Hurricane. That was the local community/state's job.