Casablanca and This Means War Final Paper

Gina Lerner

Dr. Brynes


December 15, 2013

Casablanca and This Means War

            The movies, Casablanca and This Means War, have many similarities and differences. The old time classic, Casablanca is about an owner, Rick Blaine, of a nightclub in Casablanca during World War II times. He helps refugees escape to America. He is encountered by a famed rebel, Victor Lazlo, and his wife, Ilsa, who happens to be Rick’s past love. Isla is forced to make the decision to stay with Rick in Casablanca or go to America with Victor. The recently released romantic comedy, This Means War, is about two CIA agents and best friends, Tuck and FDR, who end up dating the same woman, Lauren. They decide to let her choose which man she wants to be with, but they attempt to use their CIA skills to sabotage each other. Although the movies, Casablanca and This Means War, were filmed 70 years apart, they can be considered similar due to their genre, plot and characters, as well as different because of the time differences.

            The film, Casablanca, is considered one of the best romance movies ever created. It incorporates themes of love and sacrifice that depict the romance genre. The “screenplay sparkles with memorable lines” that make the romance in this movie so influential (Casablanca). The love triangle between Ilsa, Rick and Victor represents the romantic nature of this movie. Rick is forced to sacrifice his love for Ilsa in order to do the right thing. Not only is it a romance movie, but it also includes many other themes as well. It is a story of political and romantic espionage set during wartime conflict (“Casablanca 1942”). It’s considered an espionage film because the police are searching to find refugees trying to escape to America. The police were after Lazlo because he was against Nazism. It is also considered a propaganda film because it incorporates elements of the war. It was known as one of the best war-related films of its time in addition to being a romance film (Heiney). It was produced with the goal of being propaganda (Floratis). Casablanca also includes themes found in film noir such as the gun Ilsa pulls out and Rick’s trench coat. It challenges traditional romance films because Ilsa and Rick do not end up together in the end. This is different than most romances where the two main characters end up happily together. Casablanca is known for being a romance film, but it is also known for being a mash up of several different genres.

            This Means War is a Romantic Comedy. This means that it includes elements found in the romance genre as well as the comedic genre. The relationships between Lauren and the two men have a romantic aspect. Tuck and FDR both want her to fall in love with them. She has to make the decision of whom she loves. This movie is also a comedy because it includes many elements and scripting that is considered funny.  When the two men fight over Lauren, some scenes are meant to cause laughter.  The two men attempt to sabotage each other, which is a humorous aspect. This Means War is also an action movie. It involves many chase scenes as well as fighting. It includes shootings and car crashes. It is suspenseful at times and filled with action. It also is a spy movie because both men are CIA agents and all of the action that takes place is because of their jobs.

            Casablanca and This Means War are similar for many reasons as well as different. They are both a mash up of genres, meaning they both include multiple genres. This provides for a more interesting film. They both have romance involved. Also, in both movies, there is a love triangle. In Casablanca, Rick is in love with Ilsa who is married to Victor. Victor and Rick both love Ilsa, and Ilsa has loved them both. In This Means War, Tuck and Frank both want Lauren to fall in love with them. She is interested in both men and has to make the decision on whom to love. Another reason that they are similar is that the women are left to decide whom she wants to be with. In the end, Ilsa decides to leave with Victor in order to make the correct moral choice (Heiney). Lauren decides she loves FDR. They are also both espionage films in which someone is chasing someone else for justice purposes. Although these movies are very similar, they also have many differences. This Means War is more action packed than Casablanca. There are exciting car crashes, chases and highly developed technology. Casablanca doesn’t include the action found in This Means War. Also, This Means War is a comedy. There are parts of the film that the audience is supposed to laugh at. This is very different from Casablanca’s serious nature. This Means War also has the typical “happy ending” found in most romantic comedies. FDR ends up with Lauren, and Tuck ends up back together with his ex wife. In Casablanca, Rick does not end up with anyone. He had to sacrifice love in order to do what is right. It challenges the traditional genre of romance more than This Means War does. These films were filmed half a century apart, so the editing and special effects are quite different. This Means War was filmed less than ten years ago and, therefore, shows trends in current commercial filmmaking. This Means War has special effects that make car crashes possible while Casablanca does not use any of these effects. During the paintball scene in This Means War, the camera cycles around the main character to provide suspense. The suspenseful moments in Casablanca are portrayed with shots back and fourth between characters. This is very dull and not as exciting.  There is also the use of the single continuous shot during the scene in Lauren’s house where she is dancing in This Means War.  Casablanca does not feature the same type of filming as This Means War. These movies were filmed 70 years apart so it is not surprising that they have differences, but it is amazing how similar they are in relation to genres.

            Despite the fact that these two movies were filmed so far apart, they include many similarities in their themes as well as the obvious differences in film technology. This Means War and Casablanca are similar in that they are genre mash ups and include similar genres such as romance. They are different in film techniques because they were filmed so far apart. Both movies include similar plot lines and focuses on similar themes. They are easy to relate to each other because they have the similar plot of a love triangle. 



Heiney, James J. “Casablanca.” Salem History (n.d.): n. pag. Salem History. Salem History. Web. 

“Casablanca.” BFI. Film Forever, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

“Casablanca (1942).” Casablanca (1942). Filmsite, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Floratis, Matthew. “Casablanca as Propaganda? The Romance’s Wartime Messaging.” – Screened. Screened, 3 July 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.



1. My experience watching Inception for the second time was a lot different than the first time. The first time I was more focused on understanding the plot of the movie. The second time I noticed the special effects and way of filming the movie. I noticed the angles used to film to make the movie realistic. I also noticed more in the scene with Ariadne’s first dream the special effects used. 

Chicago 10

1. Chicago 10 incorporates the theme of counter-culture which includes sex, drugs and rock and roll. It does this by showing the sense of humor of the student led peace movement. The audience can see the counter-culture in the members of the Yippie because of their hippie attitudes and attire. We also see it in the militancy of the peace-movement by some protesters taking up arms. Many of the members of the movement show the counter-culture of this movie. 

2. Chicago 10 is a documentary film. It different from typical documentaries because it uses animation and live footage instead of reenactments. This is a less conventional documentary. The use of animation made the film more artistic than traditional documentaries. Because documentaries depict real events, Chicago 10 seems different because usually animation is not used for real events. 

3. The use of animation is appropriate and artistic in Chicago 10. The use of both live footage and animation allowed the audience to have a better understanding of what was happening. It was a different way to show an event like this one. It got the viewer more interested in the topic while learning. It makes the film more artistic and innovative. 

1.The Avant-garde film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, displays many themes. One of the most important themes is the impossible feminine physical ideals that Karen is attempting to overcome. This is show by the use of Barbie dolls as the characters. Barbie dolls are the impossible image of feminism because the physical structure is impossible. Researchers have calculated that a person would not be able to survive if they had the same physical structure of a Barbie doll. Even if this is so, women still strive to have the perfect physical ideals of feminism, whatever that may be. This is apparent in Karen’s obsession with losing weight. Her image is so important to her that she becomes anorexic. She is striving to have the appearance of a perfect woman even though that is impossible. This starvation leads to her death. She no longer focuses on her career, or health or family, but just on her appearance. She believes she needs to keep starving herself because she hasn’t reached the perfect feminine physical ideals. What she doesn’t know is those ideals are impossible to reach and she throws her life away in trying to do so. 

2. This movie has many aspects that contribute to it being regarded as an avant-garde film. First, Barbie dolls are used as the characters in this movie. This represents the abstract aspect of avant-garde films because objects are playing people instead of humans. This movie is surrealist because it mocks the conventional thinking of celebrities and entertainment. It strictly focuses on the negative aspects of entertainment. This movie shows compilation as well in that it incorporates scenes of pictures from Nazi Death Camps. The music throughout this movie also doesn’t relate to the action taking place. 

3. Karen Carpenter was destroyed by her own celebrity because the entertainment industry is what caused her to become anorexic. One review referring to her as larger caused her to stop eating. This lead to her death at a young age. The pressures of being a celebrity were too difficult for Karen to handle. This is still occuring in todays entertainment industry. Many celebrities die at a young age from the pressures of being a celebrity. This includes drug problems as well as eating disorders. Many young celebrities struggle with the ideals of being perfect. 

Zero Dark Thirty

1.One of the major themes in Zero Dark Thirty is feminism. A female directs this movie and chose a woman as the main character. Bigelow could have chosen a male as the main character as done in many action movies. The fact that a female is the main character of an action film, a genre typically not known for its feminism, is significant. Maya is obsessive, aggressive and determined. She is a portrayed as a strong woman fighting against the odds. It makes sense that Bigelow chose a female because many of the people involved with the hunt for Bin Laden were female anyways. Women are increasingly appearing in jobs centered around military and police work. It is more powerful to place a woman in this spot because it is out of the norm. It is historically correct as well as a powerful choice. 

2. Kathryn Bigelow uses sound design in order to make Zero Dark Thirty an artistic film. This is also why she is considered an auteur director. She uses sound in this movie to attract the audience and emphasize important events. It helps determine what the audience should be feeling at certain points. She is also considered an auteur director because of her use of femininity. The femininity in an action movie makes this movie unique. Kathryn uses a female as the main character, which makes it an unusual version of an action movie. All of these aspects are reasons why Kathryn is considered an auteur.

3. Although I can see why Kathryn’s representation of torture would be controversial, I believe she is showing the realistic nature of war. Kathryn shows many scenes in which they used torture to find out information. It is realistic for her to show the torture because that is what they did in order to find information. She is not deeming torture acceptable or encouraging it. She is simply presenting the truth about what occurred after 9/11. I think that it is acceptable for her to have multiple scenes of torture because it is her being realistic. 


1. One theme that is present in Weekend is class conflict. Corrine and Roland are part of the middle class. We can see this is the way they act and dress. Corrine steals a dead man’s pants because they are a brand that she likes. She also screams at the fact that her Heme purse is on fire and not that she was involved in a car crash. They also treat people of a lower class rudely. The bourgeoisie class is also present in this movie. The trash men are apart of that class. They both give speeches about being in their class.

2. Weekend focuses a lot on the qualities of the French New Wave. One of the main qualities shown is self-reflexivity. This is when the characters and actions in the movie remind the audience that they are watching a movie. This is used to encourage the audience to have a more critical approach when watching this movie. Weekend uses this when they have characters referring to being in a movie. This is very apparent when Corrine and Roland are talking to Emily, and they refer to this being a film. Also, someone asks Corrine if she is in a film or reality. These elements are meant to emphasize to the audience that Weekend is a movie.

3. Godard uses alienation to distance the audience. Godard does this in his use of sound. Most of the music in the film is inappropriate to the action that is taking place. Also, the music is often choppy and cuts off at awkward times. Godard chooses to play a pop song at a completely wrong time as well. He also shows teenagers randomly playing the drums in the woods. He does this in order to completely undermine the realism and the viewers enjoyment of the film. It also breaks the theoretical illusion. 

Far From Heaven

1. One important theme of Far From Heaven is the idea of white supremacy. During this time, white people were viewed as superior to African Americans. It was unacceptable for white people to be friends with African Americans because of the color of their skin. This is shown when Kathy becomes friends with her gardener, an African American man, Raymond. Her entire town was talking about it because it was viewed as so disgraceful. Kathy and Raymond would never be able to be together. The idea that they were even talking put Raymond’s daughter in danger. Kathy was viewed as less superior once people heard the rumors. Another theme is heterosexism. Homosexuality was viewed as a sickness during this time, and no one was open about his or her sexual orientation because of this. Frank could never come out with his true sexual orientation because he would lose his job and the name he’s created for himself. People had strong views on what was acceptable, and they treated people differently because of them. 

2. Curtiz uses different ideologies in order to emphasize important themes. These ideologies include race, gender, class and sexual orientation. Racism in strongly prevalent during this time and is shown through the treatment of Raymond. Whites were not allowed to interact with blacks. African Americans were viewed as less superior than whites. Gender issues also occur in this movie. Males were superior to females in every aspect. Women were supposed to support the men. During this time, class was very significant. Higher-class people were more important than lower class. This also relates to race because African Americans were the lower class and therefore treated poorly. Lastly, sexual orientation occurs in this movie. Being gay was not accepted during this time. Men were not allowed to acknowledge their homosexuality. It was looked as disgraceful if men were homosexuals. All of these ideologies relate to the important themes of this movie. 

3. Class and race inter-relate in the movie Far From Heaven. The lower class was less superior than the higher class. African Americans were less superior to whites. These relate because blacks were known as the lower class. In the movie, Frank has a high paying job and is important among his town. Raymond is a gardener. Raymond is among the lower class while Frank and his family are apart of the upper class. Raymond is less superior than people like Frank because he is black and also because he is in a lower class.