Star Wars and Casablanca

Casablanca is almost impossible to watch as only the film that is. It seems like every scene has a classic line; most of them are so integrated into American culture that I didn’t even realize they were from the film. As such, it should come as no surprise that later films owe a great deal of inspiration to Casablanca. One series in particular that wears this influence on its sleeve is Star Wars. In particular, Mos Eisley exists as a (insert whatever genre you think Star Wars is) version of Casablanca. Certain lines pay direct homage to Casablanca – 15,000 credits to leave Tatooine directly parallels the 15,000 francs to get a visa out of Casablanca. Classic Star Wars characters are spiritual successors to their Casablanca counterparts. Han is a space John Wayne with the attitude of Bogart; Jabba is a sluggified version of Signor Ferarri (early versions even kept the Fez). This article gives an excellent breakdown of the various influences of Star Wars. It doesn’t spend much time on Casablanca, but the time it does spend is interesting and insightful. This article stays much more focused on Casablanca as it relates to star wars. While I think both articles are interesting and worth reading, neither of them are professional in any capacity. I don’t think that this distinction is extremely important here since both films are very much made to be enjoyed by the general public (in the best way possible), but it is good to keep in mind.

  1. It is almost hard to pay attention to Casablanca when every other line is a classic and extremely integrated into American culture, exactly. It almost felt like they were speaking entirely in idioms or cliches just because of how famous the movie is. It is interesting that Star Wars seems destined to end up the same way, given its wild popularity.

  2. I really like the connection between a movie franchise that most of us are familiar with, to the classic that is Casablanca. It certainly makes you, as an audience member, have a different viewpoint of some scenes in movies like Star Wars, or other movies’ references to Casablanca, because it gives more weight to the dialogue. This is because the alluded lines are no just to progress the story verbally, but they also reference themes of other movies, which can help create deeper meaning or nostalgia. When I was watching Casablanca I had many moments where I would hear a quote that I had heard a thousand times, only to realize at that moment its origin and the context. (On a side note: every time that “here’s looking at you kid”, all I could think about was the Great Movie Ride in Walt Disney World, and the numerous times I rode it.) These thoughts just make me wonder what more movies and tv have reference to previous media that I never realized and how much more interesting it would be if I actually knew all the references!

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