This article by Srikumar Rao originally appeared on The Rao Institute.
Casablanca is one of my favorite movies. When I was teaching Creativity and Personal Mastery at top business schools, I would sometimes end the program by screening the conclusion of the movie.
You can watch it here.
I have often wondered why it had, and continues to have, such an impact. The acting is good, but not exceptional. The dialog is passable. The direction is competent and the screenplay adequate. The script is somewhat maudlin.
But all of these elements come together in some mysterious fashion to grab and twist our heart strings. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are long gone but Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund remain alive in millions of hearts.
Why is this so?
I have a theory. This is one of those rare movies where all of the principal characters acted in an other-centered manner at the end. They all transcended their petty personal concerns for the sake of someone else or for a greater cause.
Rick loved Ilsa but recognized that Victor Laszlo needed her support to be effective in fighting the Nazis. He also wanted her to be safe when the Germans invaded. Ilsa was sorry for the hurt she caused Rick in Paris and wanted to make up for it. Victor knew that there was something going on between Ilsa and Rick, but he did not probe and wanted what was best for her. He wanted safe passage for Ilsa. Even Captain Louis Renault gave up his lucrative position as a corrupt cop to team up with Rick after Victor and Ilsa made it safely out.
And so the movie resonated with many and continues to do so more than 75 years after it was made.
Let me know if there are any other movies that also make this grade. Life is Beautiful also makes the cut.
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