Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

AFI 100 Plus – Entry 1: Casablanca

Posted by Gerald on December 6, 2010

It has been more than awhile since I wrote anything here.  I’m starting a project as a way to get back into this blogging thing.  We’ll see what happens.

I recently had a not-terribly-original idea for a “New Year’s Resolution” for 2011 – to watch all of the AFI top 100 films.  Shortly after that, the blog thing got attached to it.  Then I remembered I hate New Year’s Resolutions, so I figured I’d start now.  I also though watching and writing a film a week was a more realistic goal that a film every 3.65 days.  I’m less interested in writing reviews than in just writing about whatever associations this viewing of the film had for me.  My intention is to combine the two lists AFI released, so this will be more like the AFI top 120.  We’ll see how far I get.

AFI’s #1 film is, not surprisingly, “Citizen Kane.”  However, since I just watched #2 “Casablanca” a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to start there.

So we’ve also already established I’ll not necessarily be doing these in order.

I went to see Casablanca at the Carolina Theater in Greensboro.  A friend joined me, which is good because movies alone are just not the same, even with a theater crowd.  Casablanca is a particular favorite of mine.  I love Claude Rains and his depiction of world-weary corruption.  He shows the best and worst meanings of “gentleman” in a single performance.  I’m not going to talk much about the movie because, hey, its Casablanca – what’s there to say.

This was my first time seeing the movie in a theater, though.  There was something magical about watching that familiar opening on the “silver screen” with a roomful of people.  There is something equally magical about that sort of group experience – something I think is missing from even going to the movies today.  Maybe it is the unrelenting visual and aural assault of the modern movieplex or maybe the pacing that makes any slow savoring of the characters or story impossible, but the experience of a movie like Casablanca is very different from any film I see today.  For a short time I felt a connection with the other people in the audience (well, the guy in front of us who kept getting up, checking his cellphone, and who felt it necessary to explain the movie to his female companion, him not so much…).  I haven’t felt that in years.  Instead it usually feels like we are all here alone together.  Something has changed – maybe us, maybe the movies, maybe how we interact in public spaces. 

Maybe this is just a side-effect of age, but I feel we are less than we once were.


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