For those who’ve seen Casablanca, this scene needs no introduction. For those who haven’t go get the DVD and watch it. Repeatedly.
Casablanca is the story of a jaded American expatriate in the late 1930’s, a former idealist who’s watched the world descend into fascism and has given up on it. His feelings aren’t muche different from what I’ve been feeling lately, as I watch our beloved country sinking into socialism in order to buy some temporary financial safety.
The first 20 minutes or so of the move very effectively set up the sense of utter hopelessness of the refugees from Nazi occupied Europe who’ve found themselves trapped in Moroco, a colony of “neutral” France, unable to continue thier trek to America and freedom. Rick, a man who once ran guns for the Ethiopians and fought for the Spanish loyalists, owns a cafe (nighclub) that’s very popular among the disposessed, but he’s as hopeless and cynical as anyone in Casablanca.
Into this mix comes Victor Laslo, a tireless anti-Nazi crusader who’s been in and out of German concentration camps across Europe as an “enemy of the reich”. Wherever he’s gone he’s served as the a lightning rod for the local resistance, and the Nazi’s want him dead. His only hope is to acquire a set of transit papers that Rick has in his posession. Just prior to this scene, he’s trying to talk Rick into giving them the papers. Then this happens.
We see here a room full of people who’ve become so wrapped up in the act of fleeing the opressors that they’ve forgotten how to be free men and free women. These people who, seconds before, were willing to meekly turn thier heads as the conquerors sing of the glory of thier new world order, are suddenly brought to thier feet by one man who refuses to knuckle under. And suddenly the Marcilles become not just the French national anthem, but the anthem of all free men and free women everywhere, everytime.
One man. One man with the courage of his confictions and the dignity of all free men and women.
Maybe we all need to send a copy of this url to EVERY ONE of our republican “leaders” in the senate.
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