Sacrifice and Love in ‘Casablanca’





Sacrifice and Love in ‘Casablanca’

The 1942 film ‘Casablanca’ directed by Michael Curtiz is a romantic drama revolving around World War II. Rick is the main character in the movie, played by Humphrey Bogart. At the time, Casablanca was a bustling city with immigrants from all parts of the world on transit, mostly to the United States. Rick is an American expatriate who runs a popular café in Casablanca frequented by many patrons. Rick is a politically neutral man who keeps to himself, never interacting with the patrons in his café. However, as the film progresses, the story of Rick’s past emerges with the arrival of Ilsa Lund in Casablanca. The film is a story about war, love, and the struggle to find happiness and freedom. While ‘Casablanca’ is essentially a film about love and freedom, it also shows that the pursuit of these goals comes at a great sacrifice.

At the beginning of the film, Rick is shown to be an eccentric man whose sole focus is on running his bar. Amid the war, he never takes any political stand telling people that politics is not his business. However, in the past, Rick had been a gunrunner and fought for the Loyalist side during the Spanish War. A crook named Ugarte lays his hands on some valuable letters of transit that would allow the bearers to travel to any destination. He plans to sell them and asks Rick to keep them safe before the sale. However, Ugarte is arrested and dies before he can sell them, and Rick keeps them in his possession (Plath 12). Ilsa Lund, Rick’s former lover, and her husband Victor Laszlo arrive in Casablanca soon afterward. On seeing Ilsa, Rick is angry because she left him without explanation in Paris. Victor wants to purchase the letters, but Rick refuses due to his history with Ilsa. Ilsa sneaks into Rick’s café and explains to him the circumstances of their separation, and also confesses her love for him. Rick finally agrees to help Victor, giving Ilsa the impression that she would remain in Casablanca with Rick. He dupes Captain Renault, and Laszlo and Ilsa escape to America.

Ilsa made a sacrifice in leaving Rick in Paris. Before meeting Rick, Ilsa had been married to Victor but thought that he was dead. She kept this information secret from Rick the whole time they were together. In the film, Ilsa and Rick had planned to leave Paris together. In the scene showing their separation, Rick stands on the train platform on a rainy day. He keeps looking around, waiting for Ilsa to arrive, but she never does. When the train master announces that its three minutes before the train departs, Rick looks anxiously at his watch. Sam arrives with a note from Ilsa, telling Rick that she would not be coming, but that she cared deeply for him (Movie Predictor 46:03). Rick looks crestfallen, knowing that Ilsa would not show up, and he is forced to leave Ilsa alone. This particular scene shows the sacrifice that Ilsa made in leaving Rick, although she loved him. Just before the planned departure, she found out that her husband was still alive and made up her mind to stay and nurse him back to health.

The final scene of ‘Casablanca’ shows the sacrifice that Rick made in letting Ilsa leave with her husband Victor ( Movie Predictor 1:36:01) Rick made an agreement with Captain Renault that would have the captain arrest Victor for possession of the letters, while Ilsa and Rick remained in Casablanca. However, on reaching the airport, Rick tells Ilsa that she would be leaving with her husband. Despite the fact that Rick loved Ilsa, he knew that it was the best thing for her to go with her husband. At first, Ilsa is confused to find her name among the list of those flying because she thought she was staying in Casablanca. She grabs Rick by the lapels of his coat, protesting his decision. This scene in the film shows that Rick sacrificed his love and a life with Ilsa just so she could be safe with her husband. Although Rick loved Ilsa, he knew that she agreed to stay with him so that her husband could be safe (Robertson & v 15). Rick could have kept her, but he chose to allow her to leave. Additionally, Ilsa was ready to sacrifice her life with Victor just so he could get the letters of transit and leave Casablanca. Ilsa knew that her husband’s life was in danger, and she would do anything to keep him safe, including faking love for Rick and letting Victor leave without her.

In conclusion, the film ‘Casablanca’ is mostly about love and the sacrifices that people are willing to make for those they love. Rick and Ilsa were lovers from years before, but they were separated by circumstances. Ilsa had been married but assumed her husband was dead. Upon learning that he was still alive, she sacrificed the new happiness and love she had found with Rick to nurse her husband. The romance between Rick and Ilsa endured for many years, shown in how affected Rick is by Ilsa’s appearance in Casablanca. Ilsa and her husband Victor are trying to escape, and Rick sacrifices his love for Ilsa so that she can be happy with her husband. Love is very rarely a simple thing, and people must be willing to make difficult choices and sacrifices for the wellbeing of their loved ones, as Rick and Ilsa do in ‘Casablanca.’

Works Cited

Movie Predictor “Casablanca| 1942” YouTube. 19 February 2019. Retrieved from, James. Critical Insights: Film-Casablanca. Salam Press, 2016.

Robertson, James C., and James Robertson. The Casablanca man: the cinema of Michael Curtiz. Routledge, 2013.