Movement Technique In Casablanca Film Studies Essay

Casablanca is a romantic film. The story is about a man Rick Blaine who owned a very popular nightclub “Rick’s Café Americian” located in Casablanca. People who wanted to escape to America went to Rick’s café since they can buy illegal letters of transit to allow them to escape. One day a beautiful lady enters with her husband Ilsa and Victor Laszlo. Ilsa was Rick’s true love; however Ilsa left Rick when the Nazis attacked Paris. Moreover, Ilsa wanted her husband (Victor) to escape to America. She also wanted to stay behind with Rick after she renewed her love for him. But by the end of the movie Rick lets Ilsa escape with her husband back to America and to leave him in Casablanca. However, the film did not end completely happy because Rick’s love went with her husband and left him alone in Casablanca.

The classical film Casablanca which was made of a usual narrative structure with a beginning, middle, and end which begun with a stability which was disrupted, and the rest of the film was trying to fix that disruption. A film in short has to have a surplus of different experiences for the audience, and also demonstrate an imaginative use of cinematography. (Moore-Bridger, 2003)

The Technique Movement Used in Casablanca

In the beginning of Casablanca, after hearing the officer mentioning that two German messengers were murdered as carrying letters of transit. After that the audience sees shots showing the policemen arresting some people who look suspicious walking in the street. Then the police catch a man who looks suspicious and his papers were expired, so he tries to run away from them until the policeman shot him. After that, the police turns down to the dead man, grabs the papers from his closed hand then he gives the papers to another policeman where he is closer to the camera and opens the papers. The audience only sees the policeman’s hand holding the paper. (What the Policeman could see, the audience could see as well).

The next part in Casablanca, first they show us Rick’s Café how full it is. And then shots of people seated at a table who are discussing to escape from Casablanca to America. The audience can see the people in the background but not clear only focused on the people who are at the tables discussing. During that the audience still has not seen Rick (the main character in the film). After that, they show the audience that a lady is asking if Rick can have drinks with them. Later, a man with an empty check goes to a man at the table in order for him to sign the check. Then the man at the table signs the check. The camera takes a close shot on Rick signing the check then slowly taking a closer shot on Rick. This shows the audience that Rick is the one who owns the night club and is the main character.

According to Louis Giannetti in Understanding movies, frame is defined by the space that includes the direction of a three dimensional stage. However, with each setup change, the cinematic “stage” is redefined. The basic meanings that are connected with many parts of the frame are connected to the importance kind of movements. (Giannetti, 2010) Linking it to Casablanca, in Rick’s café most of the characters are placed inside a frame. It shows that in Rick’s café all the people who have problems go there. Therefore, the importance of the space framing inside Rick’s an inconsistent nature. Also, the circular lines of the entrances café, walls and the arched ceilings affect the scene and frame. Therefore, this implies that Rick is a safe shelter, which shows that if anyone needs help in escaping they can go to Rick. The frames shows the degree of space that actually draws out ideas such as the that the characters are secure, confident, refuge and so on. Therefore, the audience is influenced by which kind of frame the character is placed in.

In Addition, in the film Casablanca, there were pauses on some scenes to show the importance of the character or information such as the faces, hands, body movements and eyes. By doing pauses they will grab the attention of the audience towards a specific area of the shot. After the Paris flashback that Rick had, when Ilsa came to talk to Rick when she arrived to Casablanca that shot showed the audience how the camera was moving from right to left movements from Rick’s face to his hand which tips the glass. Furthermore, the second shot shows the audience the camera movement that was following Sam (piano player) walking on the right towards Rick leaving space between both of them and the door in the background. This shot prepares the audience for the coming part where Ilsa enters from the door in the background. Then, Ricks gets the bottle so he can pour a drink for himself; by doing that it showed a clear view of Ilsa’s entrance. This scene provides attention towards Ilsa’s entrance. When Ilsa is about to enter both Rick and Sam turned their heads towards the door, the lights where darkened before Ilsa’s entrance; and when Ilsa does enter, the lighting is back and it emphasizes that Ilsa is framed by background door. According to Louis Giannetti, movements that are from right to left physical movement in this direction seems natural however, movements from left to right seems mysteriously tense and uncomfortable. (Giannetti, 2010)

The movement technique that is connected to another technique

Casablanca is an outstanding example of movements but it is also connected to a different technique which is cinematography technique. For example, Ilsa in Casablanca most of her shots were taken from her left side and lights on her face, so her eyes can look shinning. And this technique was to make Ilsa look glimmering and unforgettable to the audience and to remind the audience that she is another main character. In addition, there are also other lightings during the film like the different lightings on other characters, and the darkness of the bar.

Movements in General

Movements can have diverse meanings according to the book understanding movies by Louis Giannetti, for example there are vertical movements, an upward movements, downward movements, and toward and away the camera. Moreover, an upward movement usually suggests happiness, power, and joyfulness those ideas connect with the higher portions of the frame. On the other hand, downward movements usually suggest death, weakness, and depression. Toward and away the camera if a bad character is walking towards the camera this may seem to be violent, threatening. On the other hand, if the character is attractive and walking towards the camera this may seem welcoming, inviting, and friendly. Movements towards the Camera are generally strong, and it suggests confidence on the character’s part. On the other hand, movements away from the camera are the opposite meaning of moving towards the camera. (Giannetti, 2010)

Film movements are one of the important parts in the film, therefore, to make a film successful the film makers should know and study film movements. Movements in a film makes a clear view for the audience, for example the pauses it can show that this scene is important or the person is an important character or to emphasis the scene. In addition, the way the camera moves in the film if its right to left or left to right, or upward or downward, or close to the camera or away from it each technique shows the importance of the scene.

In film making the techniques used in a film is to hint a transaction from one location to another, such as the close and to print an image over another. In addition, lighting is another important element that should be used creatively because it can shape and decorate an image for the audience. Another important technique is the background noise that will grab the audience’s attention. (Ebewo, 2007)

As the filming started the most common type of camera movements in these films were pan, in which the camera turns slightly horizontally in order to re-center the character when he moves out of the frame. (Gartenberg, 1980) According to Louis Giannetti, pan shots are movements of the camera that scan a scene horizontally which are taken from a motionless axis point, with the camera rises on a stand. (Giannetti, 2010) There are other camera shots movements which are tilts, crane shots, dolly shots, zoom shots, handheld shots, and aerial shots. The tilt shots are vertical movements of the camera around a motionless horizontal axis. The tilt and the pan techniques are referred to as the reframing shot and are regularly used to track the characters in the movement of action. The dolly shots are taken from an automobile. The automobile moves in, out or alongside a moving figure whereas the action is being photographed. The zoom is a mixture of lenses, which are constantly variable, permitting the camera to change from close wide-angle distances to tremendous telephoto locations almost concurrently. The handheld shots are normally less lyrical more obvious than vehicular shots. Which are most of the time mounted with connect on the cinematographer’s shoulder, to allow camera operators to move in or out of scenes with better flexibility and pace. Finally, aerial shots which are frequently taken from a helicopter are really differences of crane shot. (Giannetti, 2010)


To sum up, movements are very important in a film. Movements, helps to create an image in the audience’s head, make it clear, and emphases on the important parts in the film. The director should know about all the types of movements so the movement added in the film is the correct one.

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