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Essay on the Movies: Gone with the Wind and Casablanca

8 pages
2040 words
Sewanee University of the South
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When talking about classic ancient films, it is unfair to avoid two specific examples which display the true definition of old-time romance: Gone with the Wind and Casablanca which have been widely considered as high watermark in the American cinematography. The two films have acquired significant recognition across the globe. This paper seeks to analyze the two, give similarities and contrasting differences between them. Casablanca is seen as a pulpy, sensational story and a love story that sets against the backdrop of war and gives a smooth presentation of heartbreaking romance, thrilling plot twist, memorable scenes and an old-fashioned glamour. Gone with the Wind is generally beautiful and engaging to the audience, with beats of sheer sweep, emotional complexity and exceptional plot and is set in one of the most devastating times in the American history (Schreibman, Myrl and Max Steiner 47). The two films have makes some of the most beautiful and harrowing structures in cinematography with incredible utilization of color of all time.

Synopsis of the Films

Gone with the Wind presents an emotional view of the civil war where the Old South replaces Camelot. Directed by Victor Fleming and released in 1939, the film indicates that the war was fought not so much to defeat the Confederacy and fight slavery but also to give Miss Scarlet some form of punishment. The movies has remained to be a towering landmark of film, which is quite simple by the fact that it tells a wonderful story and tells it perfectly well. For the storyline, it was the right film at the right time and presented where Scarlett O'Hara is presented as a free-spirited and a willful contemporary woman persevering through modern struggles. Her way was prepared by the flappers of Fitzgeralds jazz age by the movie actress during the period and through the economic realities of the depression and tries to fight for the rights of the women and work outside their homes. Her passion and lust as evident in the film had nothing to do with myths of delicate southern flowers and everything related to sex symbols of the film. She was a woman with the desire to control her sexual adventures and her economic destiny years after the South collapsed, by planting cotton and later operating a lumber business (Leff 150). The second part of the movie opens when Scarlet, her family and slaves are picking cotton. Later when discovered that a Yankee deserter tries to loot Tara, she shot him and takes the money he had taken from others. Later on, Scarlett realized that taxes on Tara were raised to impossible amount. Since Scarlett was desperate, she decided to meet Ashley secretly, declares her love for him but Ashley replies that she loved the land and could not offer to leave. Her father also dies in an attempt to pursue the intruders into their land. In the end, Scarlett married Rhett who she was in constant friction with. This movie takes about four hours.

Casablanca on the other side made a debut in 1942 and presents the unfolding of WWII which involved gamblers, Nazis and fighters who often dined at Cafe Americain, owned by American expatriate Rick Blaine. In the film, Ugarte visits Rick with a letter of transit obtained after killing German Couriers. This letter allows the holder to travel to numerous nations and Ugarte plans to sell it to the highest bidder who arrives at the club later at night. Coincidentally, before the meeting, Ugarte is arrested but leaves the letter with Rick. The letter is later bought by a couple Victor Laszlo who is a renowned resistant leader who escaped from Nazi concentration camp. This letter is acquired to escape to America but there is a turn of events when Laszlos wife Ilsa met and fell in love with Rick since she believed the husband had died. But when she realized her husband was alive, she abandons Rick and goes back to Laszlo.

At different times, Ilsa and Rick asked the club piano player to play a song which they loved while in Paris and reminisces their affair back in Paris. Even though she seemed happy with Rick, her mood often changed when she imagined that the husband might be alive. When Rick suspected that Laszlo had acquired the letters, he tried to convince her put they are interrupted when the Nazi officers. Ilsa later confronts Rick in the cafe to obtain the documents and hold a gun at him. However, she is unable to shoot, and confesses that she loves him. Rick then makes a decision to assist Laszlo, making her belief that she will stay when Laszlo leaves (Taylor 83). Laszlo is later jailed for a minor crime and Rick convinces Renault to release him promising to set him for a serious crime. However, Rick tricked Renault and forces him at gunpoint to help in the escape. Generally, Casablanca is set during the WWII with the primary theme of a man fixed between choosing love and assisting resistance leader to escape. In a nutshell, Both movies are classic film often time audience values brevity in movies and for this reason a significant number of viewers prefer Casablanca.

Filming of the Films

These two films were filmed during the different period. Gone with the Wind was filmed in 1939 while Casablanca was filmed in 1942. As a result of the different period in which these two were filmed, the filming techniques are not utterly the same. The developments that had been observed in Motion picture in 1942 are more advanced than those of 1939. As a result, the filming of Casablanca contains more advanced techniques than Gone with the Wind (Girgus 55). Ideally, there has been a progressive change of filming techniques since the discovery of films. For instance, in the early days, films were short, lacked color and sound. However, after the World War II approached, filmmakers were able to include quality sound in their films. The advancement of sound quality in films played a critical role in films. Color was discovered soon after, and many films adopted it. Therefore, the period in which films were produced and filmed determined the details that were included in the film. Hence, Casablanca production is technically more advanced as compared to Gone with the Wind in relation to color and sound quality.

On the other hand, the two films share similarity in terms of their filming locations. Both movies were filmed in America in order to achieve the sense the United States. The location of a film sets the mood and can contribute to the development of the theme of the film. The two movies focus on Romance but Gone with the Wind goes further to mediate on the changes that swept the South in the 1860s. It started in prewar where traditional, chivalry and pride was exalted. As the civil war began, there was a shift to Atlanta, where the war led to a breakdown of conventional gender roles and existing power structures. And when the south lost the war, slaves were freed, leading to the end of Southern way of life and the emergence of internal conflict. As a result, the film tries to show the suffering of Northerners and the Southerners underwent and try to resonate with it. Casablanca is about a man cut out between love and good quality manner failure with a dilemma to pick the two hard choices. While the WWII was on, Ricks cafe was like a home for refugees trying to get their ways to America. As a result, nearly all the scenes were acted in a single location. Therefore, although the two films decision of filming location was determined based on different criteria, both films used almost similar contexts which blended perfectly with the theme and the storyline of the films.

Another comparison that can be observed in both films is the casting choices and the development of their scripts. At the soul of any film is the script and casting. Poor casting choices and underdeveloped scripts can lead to a poor final product. In Casablanca, the cast has about 16 speaking sections and other extras with majority notable internationally. In Gone with the Wind, the director took significant amount of time to cast the role of the main actor Scarlet OHarra. The main characters in both of these films are attached to romantic issues. The writer of Gone with the Wind had adapted the rights to the material with the hope that the main actor would play the role. In a nutshell, the two script development and cast differs significantly even though there is a strong eccentric romance as the main locus of reference for the entire process.

Cinematography Techniques

The cinematography is an essential part of a film because it determines how the filmmakers vision of the film is presented to the audience. The cinematographer should be able to read and internalize the script to get an overview of the directors perspective of the film. The cinematographer should also be able to break down the film to get the underlining meaning and undertones in the script so that they can devise ways which they can use to present these undertones and meanings to the screen. In general, the cinematographer is in charge of bringing the whole film idea from the script to the screen for the audience. As a result, poor understanding of the script by the cinematographer can result in a poorly produced film which is unable to present the ideas of the scriptwriter to the audience (Wilson 98). Therefore, the process of selecting a cinematographer is critical in the development of a film.

In filming, the primary cinematic approaches are pan, tilt and dolly. Pan is the horizontal motion of the camera as it looks through a broad landscape that fails to fit regular camera boarder. Tilt is a vertical motion of the camera, by pivoting up and down. The two techniques are often referred to as re-framing the shot and are usually applied to track characters in the film. Dolly on the other hand is the movement of the camera horizontally throughout the space. Pulling focus is another strategy which is basic and applies looking at items that are in different ranges. The shift from a single picture to another is transition. At the beginning of Casablanca, there exists a scene that starts after the sound of the two messengers is killed while carrying letters to transfer MacGuffin. We can see how police arrests some suspicious characters on the street and one of them had papers which were not orderly then he tries to escape from the police but in the process shot. The police then approach the man and look at the papers, then pass them to his colleague and closer to the camera for the audience to see the details in the papers. At this point, the viewer can notice how the camera was close to the papers. This scene shows the importance of keeping close link between the characters in a movie and film viewers who forms the most essential ones in this case (Nowell 82).

There is another scene in the movie Casablanca which demonstrates Ricks cafe which at first shows the entire club then transfers to people at the cafe talking and organizing their escape from Casablanca. From here, the image of a woman is shown asking about Rick and another man goes to Rick asking him to sign a check as the camera takes a closer view at Rick in the process of signing then changes to Rick himself. In this case, there is an emphasis that Rick is the main character in the movie and the main shareholder of the Cafe.

In another scene in the film, after the flash back in Paris, Ilsa tals to Rick when they first met in Casablanca and the camera moves from right to left from Ricks face to the image of his hands when they tip above the glass. The next shot after the scene is also a camera movement but it moves from left to right. Hence, in the middle of the shot is a space between Sam and Rick. Thereafter, the cinematographer moved the viewer with visual staging when Ilsa entered a room but before she enters, the shot focused...

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