Tuesday, August, 29, 2023, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Media and Communication Studies, Ursinus College
In 1942, the Office of War Information praised Casablanca’s image of America as a haven of the oppressed, hoping the film would remind viewers to “uphold this reputation and fight fascism with all that is in them.” Because the film has been entrenched in popular culture for so many decades, it’s easy to forget just how potentially explosive its story really is. Casablanca is both a narrative of political resistance and a timeless romance. It’s a story of two courtships that share the same girl. And it’s a tale of a man who has to decide between himself and his country, at the cost of the law.
How could such a film be produced under the infamous Hays Code? This seminar explores the film’s history, unpacking the apocryphal tales about Casablanca’s haphazard creation and considering their relationship to the story’s meaning. It details the role of Warner Bros. in the production of war films and the contributions made to Hollywood by director Michael Curtiz. It analyzes Dooley Wilson’s magnificent performances in relation to the rest of the memorable score. Finally, it examines the power of archetypes to move audiences despite their familiarity. As Umberto Eco said, Casablanca is not satisfied with a single archetype, “it uses them all.” Together, we’ll identify why that strategy works, both at the time of the film’s release, and for audiences today.
Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.
Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.
$25 for members, $35 for non-members
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June – August 2023