Casablanca is celebrated for many elements: the writing, the acting, the film noir look, the historical
significance, and many other things. The historical significance was of major importance.
When it came out, some critics of the film argued that the film was anti-American. Based on watching the film and reading the history below, do you agree with this? How is America represented in this film? Keep in mind that America did not enter World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The film is set in Casablanca, Morocco in the early days of the Second World War. Morocco was a French Colony up until 1956. The main agents of action represented in the film are the Vichy government, the Nazis and the Resistance.
Vichy - this is the name of the regime that took power in France between 1940 and 1944. A power sharing agreement was reached between the Nazi and Vichy parties, resulting in the partition of France.
The French government had to pay the costs of the German troops in the country, and allow the German army to arrest whoever they wanted. This is famously featured in Casablanca, when we see the Nazi army march into Paris, forcing Sam and Ilsa to leave. Many French saw the arrangement between the Vichy government and the Nazis as a betrayal. The Vichy government were loyal to and respectful of the Nazis. This surrender incensed many French people, encouraging them to join the Resistance.
The Resistance - this is the name given to French nationals and others fighting against the oppression and suffering caused by the Nazi and Vichy regimes. They took enormous personal risks, working behind enemy lines and helping the Allies, through gathering information and carrying out various other missions. In the film we meet Victor Laszlo, a Czech national, who we come to learn is an important figure in the Resistance movement, making Ilsa's role in supporting Laszlo all the more vital.
The Nazi Party - the Nazi party were a force in German politics between 1920 and 1945. Their policies included the eradication of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally and physically ill, as well as encouraging the domination of the Aryan 'master race'. In Casablanca we meet Strasser, who represents the Nazi presence in Casablanca; his actions are indicative of the party ideology.
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