Friday, August 16, 2013

Favorite Characters pt 4- Rick Blaine

What can you say about Casablanca? Nothing that hasn't alreay been said to be honest. It's known for being one of the greatest love stories of all time, in my opinion, it's THE greatest. Why? Because it's the ultimate example of someone who was willing to put aside their own pride and self interests to truly help someone who had hurt them.

Rick is a club owner in the city of Casablanca, which is currently being occupied by the Nazis. He's the kind of character that really only looks out for number one, everyone else doesn't really seem to warrant. Whether the Germans or the French hold the city is of little concern for him. He's a mysterious man with a shady, and more than likely troubled past who is just looking to live comfortably and that's about it. Things seem to be working out for him until the love of his life, the one that got away, Ilsa walks through the door of his club with her husband asking for his help getting out of the country. At first, he turns them down and wonders why "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine". Eventually, he swallows his pride and decides to help them leave town to find friendlier skies. Even at the end, when Ilsa wants to stay with him rather than leave with her husband because she still has feelings for Rick, he forces her to go because of how much danger she will be in if she stayed with Rick. One of the best moments of the movie is when he says "If you don't get on this plane, you'll regret it. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon". I know it's a cliche for people to say "If you love her, let her go" when someone breaks up with them, but in Rick's case, that is literally what he had to do. The best kinds of characters are those that decide to make sacrifices when it would have been just as easy to take what they probably deserve. I only saw this movie about a year ago, and didn't know that much about it going into it, so I was genuinely shocked when I saw the ending. I don't think anyone would have blamed Rick if he let Ilsa stay with him because that's all he wanted, the only moments when you see Rick smile are in the Paris flashbacks and when you see the difference between him then and now, you have to feel bad for the guy. In the end, it's hinted that he and the corrupt police chief are leaving their cushy lives in Casablanca to go join the French resistance, both now having found reasons to pick a side. Renault because he's fed up with the Nazis and Rick because he wants to follow Ilsa's example of courage.

Favorite Characters Part 3- Chris MacNeill

I've always wanted to include a parent in my favorite characters list, and while I could include Liam Neeson's character from Taken, it makes a lot more sense to include Chris MacNeill, the mother of Regan the possessed girl from The Exorcist. To me, there is nothing better to see than a parent who is willing to put it all on the line for their child, and what is more ballsy than putting it all on the line when your daughter is possessed by the devil? At the start of the story, she is a loving mother who, despite being a well-known actress, still finds time to raise young Regan. And for once, you have a parent that isn't completely clueless about their child's condition in a horror film. That's what always bugged me about evil kids, the parents area always really reluctant to face reality until it's far too late. Chris here immediately jumps on the situation and only suspects for a second that her sudden changes are due to puberty or a mental disorder. Even after the doctors continuously tell her that it may just be a problem with the temporal lobe or whatever, she yells at them "Are you serious? Did you not hear my daughter speaking with a creepy man's voice?". Throughout the course of the story, it is taking a physical tole on her as well. By the time she goes to Damien for help, she looks old and tired and just really worn out.

And considering that she is going up against the greatest evil of all, that being the devil, you can't discount the measures that she takes to save her daughter. Even though the movie is technically named after Max Von Sydow's character, it really is Chris that stands front and center along with Father Damien for the rest of the story, both are very strong characters. We are sympathetic to Damien for his recent plights and you want to be in Chris's corner as she continues to tackle realities that were long dismissed as fantasies, even to the Catholic church.

I hate to sound like a broken record but The Exorcist is one of the best horror films of all time, and it's not just because of the scary girl, but all of the effort that was put in by the rest of the actors, especially Ellen Burstyn, who is the emotional weight of the movie