Comparing 'Casablanca' to '1984'


How can a hero survive in a world gone mad? Both Casablanca, 
the classic 1940s film, and hailed as the greatest movie ever by some, 
and 1984, a piece of classic literature by George Orwell, also seen as 
being one of the most important novels of the 20th century, revolve 
around a world in chaos, where no one trusts anybody else, and a war 
wages on within and without. In 1984, Winston hides from a 
totalitarian, thought controlling government, that is out to stomp out 
all aggression against the Party. Rick dealt with a world rocked by 
the impacts of World War II, where everyone was a spy, and even the 
spies were spied on. Both wish for hope and courage in their mutually 
exclusive worlds, yet only Rick finds hope in his. Winston dies with 
utter hopelessness, where no one will ever know of his life or deeds, 
yet he dies a hero. Rick is a cynic, tossed into a chaotic yet 
romantic world, and comes forth victorious.
 In Casablanca, we emerge with a feeling of hope, and joy, that 
the forces of good can win, and that eventually we will triumph over 
our enemies, wherever or whatever they may be. While slochky and 
romantic, Casablanca is a touching movie, and probably one of the best 
ever made. 1984 on the other hand, is a deep psychological thriller. 
 In the world of utter thought-control, we find that even a strong 
hero such as Winston, is struck down by the party, for simply being 
alive, and that the virtuosity within humanity will eventually be 
overcome by our greed and lust. Their struggles are that of man 
against the oppressor. Both 1984 and Casablanca deal with a world 
gone mad, and the struggles of not-so-ordinary people. 
Oftentimes, parallels can be made between characters in the two. 
Renault can be compared with O'Brien, because both are 'double agents' 
in their own ways, and one never knows for which side they work for. 
Of course, in the end O'Brien is an agent of the Party, and Renault is 
a sympathetic Frenchman, who befriends Rick - Louis, this is the 
beginning of a beautiful friendship. 
 Sam of course, is stability. He can't be bought or sold, and 
is seemingly a constant, always there and never too deep into the 
problems of the world. Sam represents the carefree aspect in all of 
us, the feeling that we'd just as soon turn our attention away from 
the war and hum a tune. Parsons could be the Sam of 1984, the escape 
from reality. Winston wishes he could simply give in as Parsons did, 
to just pledge his allegiance to the Party, and live out his days in 
relative happiness (Parsons is even glad when he was turned in by his 
 While vastly different, many similarities can be made between 
these two classics. Both take place in a world gone mad, where 
nothing is truth, and reality is always questionable. In 1984, we see 
that truth is temporary, and in Casablanca, people are not always who 
they seem. Rick and Winston both face the ultimate human enemy: the 
unimportance of the individual. Rick exemplifies this theme, as he 
relates to Ilsa: "The problems of two little people don't amount to a 
hill of beans in this crazy world." Simply put, individuals don't 
matter. That the events surrounding their world and time overpower 
those of the individual. In the world of 1984, we see the total 
eradication of the individual, and the loss of all personal rights. 
Winston and his comrades are part of the one, the Party, and any 
strives in another direction were punished with Room 101.
 Casablanca deals with a festive arena in the midst of war, 
Rick's Café Americain, and 1984 deals with the opposite, a dismal view 
of a war torn London. Yet both of them are set in places that are 
different than the surrounding world. Winston hides in his corner 
away from the telescreen, where he feels he can think and write, yet 
he realizes that as he sits there, he was the dead. Outside Rick's a 
war wages on, but inside the kindly café, an atmosphere of warmth and 
freedom emanates. Yet it is soon crushed by the iron fist of the 
Germans attempting to capture the rogue Lazlow, as Winston's alcove by 
the Party. Both Winston and Rick's worlds are torn apart by forces 
beyond their control, but Rick is victorious in the end, and Winston 
loses the battle. 
 In summary, both 1984 and Casablanca revolve around the idea 
that humanity is losing its personal identity to that of the masses. 
The individual, in both cases, is far less important to that of the 
rest of the world. Hero's can exist in a world gone mad, as we find 
in both 1984 and Casablanca. Lazlow is a hero of the rebellion, who 
stood out against the oppression of the German government, and escaped 
to Lisbon. Winston spat in the face of the Party, and stirred within 
himself, human emotions and committed the gravest crime: he was alive. 
 Both acted in the face of defeat, and won their own victories. There 
are many similarities between the characters and events of 1984 and 
Casablanca. The line that sums it all up, was spoken by Rick. "That 
day in Paris, the Germans wore gray, and we wore blue." They dared to 
be different, and to be human, in a world gone utterly mad with its 
own evils.


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