Music's Role in "Casablanca"

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Music’s Role in Casablanca

        The ever-popular film Casablanca presents its viewers with fantastic supporting music to its film, to help make every scene as realistic as possible, and help turn an average film into one of the greatest love stories of all time. Throughout the film, music is carefully designed to enhance the effects of each scene, and helping to add realism. Director Michael Curtiz can be considered a genius for his superb use of film score, which can be used for many different functions. By reviewing two different scenes at different parts of the film, we can see how film score had many similarities and differences but with one common goal.

        Casablanca takes its viewers on a love rollercoaster between a couple reuniting after a long period apart. In the first section of the film we meet two love distraught characters: Rick and Ilsa. While sitting in Rick’s café on different occasions, both ask the club piano player to play “As Time Goes By.” This was the couples’ song when they were together in Paris. “As Time Goes By,” being played by a piano, begins to play in the restaurant, and instantly sets a gloomy setting for the scene. The song instantly sparks flashbacks. This slow song can almost put us into the seat of the characters, because we instantly feel the dismal setting just listening to it, and our emotions our instantly sucked in. The song being played is heard by both the viewers, and the characters in the movie, and therefore is considered to be diegenic sound.

        With the setting remaining in Rick’s café, the viewers witness the scene when Rick and IIsa meet up again for the first time since Paris. As soon as their eyes make contact, we instantly hear a distraught love tune. This tune tells us this couple has had an intimate relationship in the past, but reuniting was a

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little uneasy for them, sparking old memories. Because the tune inserted into the film is very slow and sad, we know it is meant to lead the viewers down a path of sorrow. Without the music we would see Rick and IIsa just staring into each other’s eyes with no emotions, and it would be very difficult to make an assumption on the emotions running between the couple. This tune helps bring the scene to life, and enhance our emotional perception of the situation.    

When the couple is reminiscing their past, their thoughts are accompanied by a cheerful ...

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