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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dan Romascanu - Après le Jour de la Bastille


Michael Curtiz's Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and Kubrick's Path of Glory starring Kirk Douglas are two of my venerated movies. Both got a 10 on my IMDB scale, both made me a strong impression when I first saw them as a teenager, and I discover in them new things and resonate with the older feelings each time I see them again.

For Le Quatorze Juillet somebody brought on an Internet discussion forum the scene in Casablanca where La Marseillese is sung in tears by a patriotic crowd in Rick's bar. I see La Marseillese there not merely as a symbol of patriotism or nationalism, but as a symbol of universal freedom and human dignity facing tyranny.

This fine sequence reminded me the final of Path of Glory which I have recently seen again. Here, another French crowd, this time soldiers in the first world war find back their humanity also by joining a song, a German song with words that they cannot understand, but with a beauty that transcends language barrier and national enmity.


Which one of the sequences you liked more?

Dan Romascanu

(Cronici semnate Dan)

3 Comments:

  • When I started to borrow DVDs to watch them on my laptop, some years ago, Casablanca was the first movie I looked for. I had seen it first time long, long time, ago, when I was in the military.
    It's an interesting case: the plot is naive at best, but it has a magic. The magic of Rick's bar? Of Ingrid Bergman? Of the tune played at the piano? Maybe, who knows? But this movie has a magic, like none other.
    Now, if I were to compare the two scenes, from Casablanca and Paths of Glory, I would say that one should see the scene from Paths of Glory immediately after the one from Casablanca. And then you'll understand that in times of war, after so many months of fear and cruelty and nonsense, and misery, of longing to go home and to live normally, you start to see the guy in front of you as just human, neither enemy, nor mate, just human.
    This is out of the context of the two movies: otherwise, it is sad to realize that people were able to make such movies about WWI, and never about WWII or the wars that followed. Only a German movie about the battle of Stalingrad makes this point, of enemies and mates seen as humans from a point on; you should watch that movie if you haven't already.

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 4:17 PM  

  • I am and will always be charmed by the magic of Casablanca as well. I was and will always be in love with Ingrid Bergman and I will always dream to become like Bogart when I grow up.

    Yet, after having seen again recently Path of Glory I realized how immensely human it is relative to the scene in Casablanca. It is not however due to WWI vs. WWII I think, it is due to Kubrick, who was in my opinion the greatest anti-war director ever. Think that he only made sixteen movies in almost half a century, but maybe half of them are masterpieces, and three of them are anti-war: Path of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and Full Metal Jacket. Path of Glory is the first of all.

    I would like to share with you the view that soldiers in war start seeing in time the guy in front as just human, not enemy. I am afraid that you are too optimistic about human nature though.

    By Blogger Dan Romascanu, at 5:00 PM  

  • Well, there are sometimes moments of this kind of humanity. Not always, of course, or wars would become impossible :) The soldiers who unexpectedly get charmed by the German girl, the two officers from the novel of Anthony Loyd, The War Gone By I Miss It So, who meet by chance, one of them in the Serbian army and the other one in the Bosnian army, who suddenly feel the desire to have a drink together and to speak of old times and old acquaintances, the following day they will try to kill each other, and so on. Such moments are depicted in the German movie about Stalingrad; of course this does not happen each day.

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 6:32 PM  

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