No scene takes place on a battlefield. No one's head gets blown off. There isn't a man riding by on a horse warning everyone that the British are coming (which would have been weird anyway).
But Casablanca is still totally a war movie. It may be more of a behind-the-scenes war movie, focusing less on the horrors endured by the troops themselves, and more about the far-reaching impact that war can have on civilians. There's a brief mention of a concentration camp Laszlo escaped from, but even that awful theme isn't explored. Still, war is the backdrop that drives much of the action.
Technically, Rick does shoot a Nazi during the Second World War, so we do get a little artillery action. But there's more politics than war in the film, and most of that about the French.
Questions About Warfare
- Is showing actual battles more or less compelling than focusing on the more indirect effects of war, as in Casablanca?
- All we get battle-wise are a few quick montage shots of tanks rolling in, troops marching, etc. Did this technique efficiently up the ante, and cause us to feel the same uneasiness our heroes were experiencing? Why or why not?
- Would this movie have box office success today as a war movie?
- Parallels have been drawn between Rick not wanting to "stick his neck out" for anybody, and the U.S. having reservations about joining the war effort. In keeping with that idea, can you draw another parallel between the war and Rick's actions?
- In a sense, several characters are engaging in verbal warfare in lieu of bringing in the heavy artillery. Who are the winners and losers in that battle?
Chew on This
Casablanca would have been a better movie if it had been set in a place where there were already intense military battles happening all around.
People may call Victor a hero, but anyone who would run from a military threat rather than face it is a coward.