Casablanca & the Suture System

Casablanca is a typical example of what classical cinema constitutes and that is a world made up of not-very-subtle ideas. By not-very-subtle, I mean a great deal of emphasis is placed on them. These ideas are sold to the spectator in the form of being heroic, adventurous, or even just romantic. The question is, as Baudry puts it, are we aware of this consumption. In terms of classical cinema or the suture system, we are not.

Publicity shot of Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, and Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, all holding drinking glasses, toasting.

“The optical construct appears to be truly the projection-reflection of a ‘virtual image’ whose hallucinatory reality it creates.” (Baudry) “Falling under the control of the cinematographic system, the spectator loses access to the present.” (Dayan). In Casablanca, we get the opportunity to experience Morocco, we see it’s luxurious side like Ricky’s nightclub and we get to see the classic Morocco like the old café where Laszlo goes to get his visas. We, the spectator are fortunate to be placed, as the absent-one, in such an exotic place that we become passive to what is being fed to us. We see Ricky’s struggle and feel like we are witnessing something not a lot of people can witness. Ricky is a secretive man and therefore is not very revealing to the other characters except of course the absent-one. We get to have this unique experience of fighting with Bogart’s character and understanding what he has been through. Contrary to how we feel during a Godard film, which is that we are completely aware that what we are watching is a film constructed specifically to convey a message. We are aware of the actors being actors, and we are aware the director or the leading mind who is behind the camera.


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