Discuss the concept of "gaze" in Casablanca.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Casablanca features distinct uses of the gaze in order to advance both the plot and the development of particular characters in the film.  Consider the opening gaze of the film, the exposition that helps to describe the plight of refugees in Europe and the descending gaze of Casablanca with the refrain of "wait, and wait, and wait."  This is an example of the spectator's gaze, enabling the viewer to interact and absorb the condition that all of the characters have to absorb.  The intra- diagetic gaze is dominant in the film.  Consider the moment in which Rick reprimands Sam for playing "As Time Goes By" only to see Ilsa sitting nearby.  The instant in which both Ilsa and Rick gaze at one another is an example of the intra- diagetic gaze because both gaze upon the other as an almost objectification of pain.  Both of them gaze at one another, but they seem to be really gazing at the pain of separation that the time period caused to both of them.  Most of the closeups of Ingrid Bergman, such as the ending when the fog of the airfield almost obscures her view into a beautiful and amorphous setting is representative of the direct gaze, as she is demanding in her own way to be viewed for it will be the last time that we, and Rick, see her.