Casablanca, genre, and Crazy, Stupid, Love.


Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942) and Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) are widely known romantic films that have reached a high level of success in their eras. Although filmed more than 5 decades apart, these two films have a similar story, revolving around true love and love lost. In Casablanca the true love is between a local night club owner named Rick and his ex-lover who abandoned him in Paris named Ilsa. In Crazy, Stupid, Love. The love is between the main character Cal and his wife Emily who left him for another man. At the end of Casablanca Rick and Ilsa, who have reconciled, must for the sake of duty part ways, maybe never seeing each other again. In Crazy, Stupid, Love. Cal and Emily work out some of their problems and decide to give it another try. Both films represent the romance genre and find a place within the genre where they are both held in high regard.  

Casablanca serves as one of the greatest love stories of all time and is considered one of the best romantic films of all time. What made the film so great was the true love between Rick and Ilsa. Rick and Ilsa met in Paris before the war started and developed a fiery love for each other. Ilsa left Rick without a notice when she heard that her husband who she thought was dead was actually alive. This heartbreak crushed Rick and is the reason he is bitter through most of the film. Rick’s feelings toward Ilsa in Paris are so strong he would have moved across the world for her, but her departure breaks his heart into a million pieces. This crushing heartbreak is enough to send Rick into bitter depression. When Rick meets up again with Ilsa in Casablanca, he initially does not show any interest in her. Rick even refuses to help Ilsa and her husband escape even though he has the sought after travel pass. Rick is jubilated when Ilsa finally reveals why she left and that she still loves him and feelings of happiness and love come back to him. This is short lived because he knows that if he truly loves her he has to let her go. Rick, being the chivalrous man he is forces Ilsa to leave so she does not end up regretting her decision. Rick sends her away with the famous line “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” For someone to love someone so much that they would rather have them leave is almost incomprehensible to the average man. Rick’s love is the truest form of love because he would rather see her leave then hold her back from her duty. In this way the story is a somewhat tragic romance because the lovers are separated indefinitely at the end of the film.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. Is a much more recent film then Casablanca, and it does not involve Nazis, war, or an exotic location, but it is still a romance. At the beginning of the film the main character, Cal, goes out on a dinner date with his wife. Cal is a sad man who after year of stress, work, and raising a family has burnt himself out emotionally. He glides through his life like a ghost not really taking the time to enjoy any of the special moments he has. His wife, Emily, on the other hand is sick and tired of what Cal has become and at their dinner date she asks him for a divorce. This pushes Cal down emotionally to the point of rock bottom. When Emily tells him that she has been having an affair, Cal jumps from the car because it is too much too handle. At this point Cal has hit rock bottom. He still loves his wife, but he is angered and hurt by her betrayal. This incident though was actually exactly what Cal needed to change his life and better himself. Cal resolves not to let this keep him down and he plans to meet new women. At a bar he meets a man named Jacob who teaches him the ins and outs of picking up women. Cal eventually becomes very successful in his ability to pick up women, and he gains confidence. Cal still misses his wife even though he has an ample supply girls he can be with. Eventually Cal launches a Hail Mary to get his wife back and save his marriage by telling a middle school auditorium full of people about his courtship of Emily. A final gesture by Cal that he will always fight for Emily encourages the two to make up. At this point Emily already knows about Cal’s many affairs, and Cal obviously knows about Emily’s affair but there love is true and real so they forgive each other and pick up their relationship hotter than before. This shows the deep love they have for each other is they are both willing to look pass their mistakes and be together.

The two films both use the genre of romance and show two of the strongest emotional bonds between a pair of couples. Rick and Ilsa’s love, which is so eternal it will live on in each other’s heart, is so strong that they will deprive themselves of each other because they know it is the right thing to do. Cal and Emily’s love is so resilient that even after a quagmire of emotional fallout they would go back to each other whole heartedly and show no resentment. Both films show the strength of true love through the resilience of Cal and Emily and the deep eternal bond between Rick and Ilsa. The films differ though on the conclusion of the story. Cal and Emily will continue to be together and will probably spend the rest of their lives together. Rick and Ilsa will probably never see each other again, and unlike Cal and Emily, the two might not even live much longer because of the dangerous business they are both involved in. Casablanca also incorporates elements from other genres which Crazy, Stupid, Love. Does not. Casablanca includes aspects from the genres of documentary, propaganda, drama, film noir, and western.

Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca and Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. Both represent the genre of romance through different aspects of the genre. Casablanca’s lovers split up in the end in order to do their duty. Crazy, Stupid, Love’s lovers reunite and promise to stay with each other. Both of these actions are equal in the amount of affection needed to make both decisions. Although the films were made over fifty years apart there is still a strong similarity between them.



Byrne, Joseph. “Casablanca and Genre.” Web log post. English 245 Film Form and Culture. WordPress, Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Tunc, Tanfer E. “Bright Lights Film Journal :: Casablanca.” BLFJ Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Esteban, Jose. “Genres: Where to Draw the Line?” British Film Institute. Film Forever, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Mckibbin, Tony. “Encountering Cinema: Casablanca: Movies and Memory by Marc Augé.” Senses of Cinema RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.



Brett Morgen’s film Chicago 10 takes place at a time when the US was struggling to deal with social change. The film deals with the counterculture in America who are tired of US imperialist policies. The people put on trial represent the counter culture or hippies, and they had no intent on breaking the law when they were arrested. They only sought to assemble and protest the war peacefully as is their right. Throughout the film the people on trial ridicule the system, and protest the war in Vietnam which they see as unjust. They also attack the powers that got them here which they think is a group of rich oligarchs trying to rule the country.

Chicago 10 is a good example of a documentary film. It includes interviews and cutaways which are traditional aspects of a documentary but are combined with animation in this film. The inclusion of animation in Chicago 10 causes the film to be unique and opening a new door to animation in film. The elements of usual documentaries are included in the film however they are executed in different ways. Morgen presents this documentary the way he does in order to bring an amount art to his film, which is usually not done in documentaries.

 The use of animation in Chicago 10 was insensitive and inappropriate because of the fact that the events of the day were serous and resulted in actual injuries. The animation dilutes the seriousness of the issue in an unusual way that I think takes away from the message of the people the film is about. The animation allows for another perspective to be seen and for additional comments to be added to the film, but such things are not necessary in a film that is supposed to be serious. The trial scenes for example, makes a mockery of the court and the animation just serves to continually degrade and disrespect our judiciary system. 

Avant-garde Cinema

The pressure of women to look good in a male dominated society is present in Todd Haynes’s film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. The films shows how low self-image can lead to dependence on drastic measures to keep weight down in order to obtain an unrealistic standard of beauty. Karen is always trying to maintain the high level of beauty she has, and her fear of losing it is what causes her to become dependent on ipecac. The film shows that no matter how successful a woman is she can be put down by the male dominated society. It also shows that women in general try are more conscious of their looks because they know society judges them harsher than men.

The film defiantly qualifies as an Avant-garde film because of the radical moves made in the creative process of film making. The film does this through a number of ways, one of which is the use of Barbie dolls instead of actors. This is definitely a new technique because it is the only movie I have seen were dolls play all the main characters. Also the director shows the toll anorexia has on Karen by whittling away some of her body. These aspects make the film experimental and not viewed by many in the mainstream.

The spotlight put on Karen by her fans, the media, and her family caused her destruction because of her inability to deal with being judged. Karen, who had been skinny her whole life, was criticized by a review for being chubby. This deeply affected Karen who developed feelings of worthlessness because of a low self-image. The review was not an actual critique of her because she was not heavy. The reviewer only wrote that because he was trying to be critical of Karen for attention. Regardless of celebrity and praise, she developed the idea that she was not attractive and became anorexic in order to maintain the ideal body. 

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of how one person found where Osama Bin Laden was hiding and helped orchestrate the attack that would kill him. The film deals with significant themes, one of them being torture.  The use of torture is very controversial as a means to getting information because of its immorality as well as lack of effectiveness. The fact that Bigelow portrayed torture in the film was also controversial because it was shown to be successful which may not have been the case.

Zero Dark Thirty shows an artistic side to a war movie that they generally lack, but is present in the film as well as Bigelow’s other hit movie, The Hurt Locker. The film has a cold almost formal mood to it that perfectly embodies the emotions of the military might that would eventually take down Osama. The mood also parallels the feeling of Maya who has become a cold machine from her experiences in the CIA. The film consistently projects a layer of emotional separation uncharacteristic of traditional war movies which overflow with passion. Bigelow made her mark with this film because of the way it portrayed war.

The use of torture Zero Dark Thirty is used to show the barbaric tactics used by the Americans and the success of these tactics. The main character is shown the use of torture techniques upon her arrival in the conflict zone. The director shows the cruelty in using torture techniques to get information from individuals, but he also shows the successfulness of the program. The film sends a mixed message about the use of torture. On one hand the use of torture is inhuman, but on the other hand it is successful in gathering valuable information. The film acknowledges this fact and accepts the use of torture as a necessary evil. 


The anti-imperialist struggle in Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend is presented to the viewer in subliminal and direct ways. One of the ways it is subliminal is the destruction of cars. At the time French people were not as familiar with cars as Americans. In America cars were the life blood of the country. Each American family would need two cars, one to drive to work and the other to drive the children around and do errands. With the destruction of cars, the director is commenting on the destruction of America. Another reason he does this is to show the negatives of capitalism which is obviously associated with America. The director comments on how he feels about cars and by metaphor capitalism when he destroys several cars throughout the film.

The social context of Goddard’s Weekend relies on the film’s plot, which is based around two characters, Corrine and Roland Durand, in their journey to collect an inheritance from Corrine’s father and murder him if necessary. Society would consider their journey immoral and illegal but the two main characters are cold and psychotic and don’t feel bad about what they are going to do. Weekend is different from the typical Hollywood film because Goddard’s view of film as art, and he intentionally distance us from emotionally attaching ourselves to the main characters. By doing this he tries to make the viewer think about the movie as art.

Weekend is a critique of Hollywood and Hollywood filmmaking, using slight nudges to the industry. This is done by the inclusion of several aspects not seen in Hollywood film. One way this is done in the film is when music plays at incorrect times in the movie, contradicting the mood of the scene. Also at several points in the film, filmmaking is directly addressed, which would not be addressed in a Hollywood film. Also the unrealistic nature of the film is flaunted in the Tractor car accident scene by the obvious and intentional use of fake blood and by the fact that actors could be visibly seen breathing. Finally the actors claiming that they are in a film and not in reality makes the film painfully obvious that it is trying to make fun of Hollywood. 

Far From Heaven

Far From Heaven, written and directed by Todd Haynes, deals with the issue of homosexuality in America in the 1950’s. At the time period the film is set in homosexuals are mistreated and ridiculed by society as a whole. The main character Tim, a homosexual himself, acts hateful towards the idea of homosexuality. In order to deal with what he perceives as a flaw, Tim turns to drinking to deal with the emotional torment of being something that he himself cannot understand or accept. Even after Tim is caught with a man by Cathy, he continues to deny that he is a homosexual and only admits to having problems when he was younger. Tim continues to deny he is a homosexual because of what he thinks the community’s reaction will be to his coming out.

Ideology is a major component in Far From Heaven. The ideologies in the film challenge social issues and norms that in the time period were not addressed publicly. The belief that Homosexuals, non-whites, and women were all inferior was the prevalent ideology of many people at the time. This ideology is present throughout the film and serves to show the ignorance of the age. There is also the view that Men are supposed to be the breadwinners, strong willed, and unemotional, while woman are supposed to be loyal housewives and caretakers of the children.

Homophobia and racism are both present in the film, and although they are both hate directed towards a specific group of people there is not necessarily support from those groups of people to each other. Although Tim is a homosexual, He is outraged when he finds out Cathy was seen out with a black man. This is ironic because Tim himself would not be accepted by society as a homosexual, yet he refuses to be understanding of others.  



Michael Curtiz’s film Casablanca (1942) traces the stories of Rick Blaine, Victor Laszlo, and Ilsa Lund as they struggle in Casablanca during World War 2. The biggest theme present in the film is the struggle between love and duty. Rick is a habitually bitter man, stemming from when Ilsa abandoned him in Paris, and has no reason to help others in the film. He changes his mind and decides to help Ilsa and her husband escape because he knows that his duty to let his great love go in order to benefit mankind. Ilsa also has to fight this battle because she knows she would be most helpful to ending the war by aiding her husband, but she will always have a fiery love for Rick. In this way both main characters chose to give up love in order to do their duty, but each struggled with getting into the mindset.

Casablanca is one of the first Hollywood genre films, focusing on the genre of romance. The film deals with elements of romance such as love, duty, and selflessness. The film deals with the pain of lost love, and the enthusiasm and passion that goes with a rekindling of love. The film is clear though that Rick’s place and Ilsa’s are different and that there willing separation is the ultimate form of true love. Rick’s action at the end of the film are reminiscent of chivalrous knight. This is important to the film because it adds an element of selflessness to a tragic love story. This film has become an archetype of genre film because of it emotional and appealing storyline, and because of the genius of the system in creating the film.  

The love shown in Casablanca between Ilsa and Rick represents the strongest love two people can have for each other because they were both willing to let go of each other, remembering only the times they had together. Both characters knew they had a place to play in the ongoing war, and even though they both want each other they ended the relationship at the perfect time. If they had decided to stay together, Laszlo would have lost the support from Ilsa which would have negatively affected him and the war effort, Rick would have left Strasser alive, and Ilsa would begin to regret her decision over time. Rick, by convincing Ilsa to go with Laszlo, shows how much he cares for Ilsa by making her leave so that they would always have love deep in their hearts for each other. Even if they never get to be together, Rick would rather have Ilsa remember him fondly rather projecting her resentment of her choice on him.