CASABLANCA (HD DVD)




casablanca cast
Photo Credit: MComet

As I have said before, I do not do movie reviews. If you have not seen Casablanca before, you can read a most excellent review of the film and the HD DVD version at DVDFile and an exceptionally insightful review by Barrie Maxwell's The Digital Bits which covers enough detail about the film that nothing more needs to be said to explain why Casablanca is a great film.

I have been trying to get my sons (ages 24 and 30) to see Casablanca for years. The impediments? It's in black and white and previous versions were too grainy for their modern digital eyes. As a surprise, my older son bought the HD DVD version and fired up the HD viewer in our movie room.

I have never actually seen Casablanca on the big screen, I was born a few years after the theatrical version ran, but I have seen it on TV screens at least 30 times in my life. I have to say, seeing it in high definition on a 110 inch screen was magical and breathtaking. I thought it was great before, but now, now I was seeing it as for the first time. It's amazing what you miss when you look at a film like this on even a 36 inch screen.

My sons and daughters-in-law actually enjoyed it very much despite it being in black and white. Since I was brought up in B&W, I never noticed that it was not in color. But they will come to appreciate the movie more in the years to come, when they see references to it in other, newer films. They will grow richer intellectually by having it in their brains when they compare other movies to it.

I have always told my children that if they want to understand even simple cartoon shows like the Simpsons or to enjoy modern films, you have to see the film classics. I can tell you, without qualifications, that if you have not seen Casablanca you cannot appreciate modern movies, that you cannot truly be part of American culture. Being American is knowing about Bugs Bunny, Elvis Presley, the Honeymooners, the New York Yankees, Mickey Mouse, The Maltese Falcon, Abbott and Costello, Frank Sinatra, the Wizard of Oz, Alfred Hitchcock, It's a Wonderful Life, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and especially Casablanca.

casablancaI know people who say they have no intention of seeing Casablanca, it's an old film and what has it got to do with today? How can I explain it to them if they haven't seen it? It's like explaining what barbecue pork tastes like to a Rabbi. And just as a religious Jew cannot be a food critic (except for Kosher food) because he lacks the experience to professionally critique shrimp and pork and other chazerai, so also not seeing Casablanca puts you at a disadvantage at being able to carry on an intelligent conversation when discussing American movies.

Casablanca has long been in the number 2 position on AFI's Top 100 movies of all time. Shouldn't just mere curiosity cause one to watch it? Fortunately the new HD format allows my children (and myself) to enjoy the classics as they were meant to be seen.

Entertainment is the secret of life. Thousands of years ago, when mankind was able to first enjoy a brief respite from hunting and gathering and maintaining their existence, they began to entertain themselves with stories. Men and their families would sit around a campfire and tell stories of heroes and great adventures and how the rabbit fooled the fox (Casablanca is about how the rabbit fooled the fox). Of all the creatures of the world Man is able to laugh and it is mostly through stories that we most ably practice this craft. Yes, craft. It is something you have to learn to develop and nurture.

Similarly in the Indian culture of the Americas, their stories were of the tricksters in the world. From Wiki:

"Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth"

If we do not entertain ourselves, if we do not laugh, then we cannot enjoy what makes us most human. This is why Islam is such a danger to modern civilization. It is a throwback to a part of man's history when we were most brutal and least entertaining. Islam is the reason Muslims have no sense of humor.



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