In discussing films, there might be spoilers. Sorry!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guest: Movie Characters that Live On by Madison Chase

Characters. Of all the people involved in the making of a movie, characters are the ones who can truly bring a story to life. It's their words, actions and personalities that speak to us long after the credits are over. Exceptional characters live on, to the point where I don’t even need to mention the name of the movie but rather just their names and you’ll know who I’m talking about. Hannibal Lector, Maverick, Clark Kent, James Bond, Scarlett O’Hara, Mary Poppins.

How about three more? Rick Blaine, Ilsa Lund, Victor Laszlo. Do I need to name the movie? Probably not. These characters, like so many others have found their way into views hearts for over half a century.

When Jax asked me to talk about Casablanca and why that movie and its characters are such a classic I thought, oh the hardship. Thinking back to old favorites is always a treat. And like many great movies, I can still remember when and where I first saw them.

For the few of you who aren't familiar with Casablanca, here's the cover blurb (thanks to vudu.com):
Resistance leader, Victor Laszlo's only hope in getting out of Casablanca is through Rick Blaine. But when Ilsa, Laszlo's wife and Rick's ex-girlfriend, gets involved, Rick must decide between his happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance.

Keep in mind, this movie came out in 1942. So why is it still considered one of the greatest (love) stories of all time?

Setting. Suspense. Intrigue. Comedy. Incredible music. Fabulous, memorable dialogue. A dash of glitz and a hint of glamor. A fabulous cast of secondary characters. And a love triangle that’s become legendary.

When these elements come together, as they do in Casablanca, you have an enduring story. Steeped in history, lush with the drama of the time, Casablanca is, dare I say, a sultry backdrop for the clash between the Nazis and the French. But more importantly, between Rick's heart and mind.

It's Rick's character that leads us through the story. His personality and heartache draw us in. The secondary characters like Sam and Louis Renault add depth, texture, heart and comedy to the movie, but they also shine a light back at Rick, putting his character further in the spotlight.

When Ilsa enters the picture, the movie really comes to life. We've got a flashback to a great love affair and back in the present, a heart-wrenching love triangle. People adore love triangles, and Casablanca offers a true classic. The scorned lover, the woman in the middle, the presumed-dead-but-very-much-alive-husband.

Without this love triangle involving these characters (brought to life by the actors) this would be just another movie about war-torn Europe with great music and plenty of drama.

Just as Gone With The Wind would be another movie about war-torn America without Scarlett and Rhett. See a pattern?

Without great characters, full of goals, motivation and emotion, a movie can fall flat, just as a book can. Regardless of the setting, special effects, music score and fabulous costumes and makeup, actors must breathe life into unforgettable characters so they may win our hearts and live forever in our minds.

About Madison
Since she was little, Madison Chase has been addicted to love. Now she spends her days and the occasional night, weaving stories of romance and love conquering all. And that’s fine by her. The ushy-gushy-mushy love stuff doesn’t bother her a bit. When not writing, Madison can be found snuggling with her hubby, playing with her dog, petting her cat, or sitting outside in the sun reading a book. She loves hearing from readers so write to her at madisonchase@madison-chase.com or visit her website at http://www.madison-chase.com

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