As someone who claims to love films, there’s still so many classics I have not yet seen. People constantly say “Oh my god, you’ve never seen Titanic?” Insane, I know, but I haven't. It’s not for a lack of access or interest, but rather because there is an indescribable joy in watching something so storied and acclaimed. A special experience that under the right circumstances can be incredibly powerful like the one I’ve just had watching Casablanca for the first time. Probably your parents’ favorite film, Casablanca has garnered a reputation of being an absolute masterwork of cinema, and a deeply significant cultural commentary. It’s a film that certainly lives up to the hype. As the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but feel the same way I did when I finished films like Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, or Some Like it Hot. I felt as if I had just witnessed something that changed the course of art and cemented itself in the eternal.
At its core, Casablanca is a tale of old flames and unresolved love, but as Bogart says in the film, “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” While this film is certainly a love story for the ages, the power within Casablanca does not end there. Instead, it lies in the idea of pitting love against the very fate of the world. I can’t think of more dire circumstances for romance than the ones faced in this film. The world is being torn apart by the Nazis as morality and decency become nearly impossible to come by. Yet, in the forsaken city of Casablanca, there is one man who can take a stand against tyranny in the name of love. It’s quite poetic, especially for something written during the second World War. As it stands, Casablanca itself is a poignant piece of anti-war and anti-fascist art. To have such an accessible and endlessly enjoyable exploration of hopelessness in the face of global catastrophe is nothing short of remarkable.
80 years later, Casablanca is still hailed as a gift of filmmaking, which is why it’s only fitting that it should have such a gorgeous re-release on home video. The restoration is truly breathtaking, and I’m still trying to convince myself this film is really as old as it is. The disc also includes a treasure trove of special features, including an introduction from Bogart’s at-one-time spouse, Lauren Bacall, two separate commentaries for the film (one from legendary film critic Roger Ebert and the other from Film Historian Rudy Behlmer), multiple featurettes, and much more. If, like me, you were waiting for the right time to check out this film, wait no longer; It’s not going to get much better than this! Casablanca is a tremendously important film, and one that demands to be seen in this quality. Whether it’s your first viewing, or your hundredth, this release is sure to leave you breathless.
The new 4K Ultra HD restoration of Casablanca is available now from Warner Brothers in both digital and physical format.