Movies about writers: Casablanca

I guess millions of words have been written about the wonderful classic movie Casablanca over the years since its release. It is not my intention to add too many more words to what has been already written. I want to take a different tack to most writers on the subject.

It has been quite a few years since I last saw the movie. I recently bought a copy on DVD and we had a film night last night. Not having seen it for so many years it was almost like coming to a movie for the first time. It was a memorable experience.

This article is in my series called Movies About Writers. At first glance this movie is NOT about a writer, nor is it about writing. Think again. Writing as a mechanical act does feature on a few brief occasions through the movie but that is not what I would like to focus on.

One short piece of writing given a very prominent place in the movie is a letter. The letter written by Ilsa Lund (played by Ingrid Bergman) is delivered to Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) as he is about to leave Paris. This was during a flash back to when they had first met some time earlier. The letter is short, simple and extremely poignant. It is a turning point of the movie and upon this letter revolves the whole tension between the two main characters.

Simple words. Yet so devastating in their effect upon Rick. We feel the intense disappointment of Rick as he screws up the letter and tosses it from the train as it moves off. The pain of that moment floods back as Ilsa enters his bar in Casablanca and the passion of their love is reignited. Just a few simple words, but their devastating effect is so far reaching.

Writers everywhere should take note; a few, simple words can leave a lifelong legacy. Encouraging words can turn a life around for good but words of rejection can destroy a life.

Such is the power of the written word.


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