I Left "Casablanca" to Find Redemption "On the Waterfront"
Updated on October 29, 2007, 1:10 AM - Written by Tim Buttner
A good policy for getting by in this world is isolationism and to be deaf and dumb. Association only brings trouble, especially if talking about the activities of those associates can lead to more trouble. One never should go looking for trouble, after all and that's the policy lived by Rick Blaine in Casablanca and Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. The path to redemption for both Rick and Terry come through several factors.
One factor is a McGuffin like device, i.e. the Letters of Transit for Rick and the coat of Joey Doyle's for Terry. The Letters of Transit put Rick in a position of power once they fall into his possession, and several characters put themselves in front of him asking for him to give them the Letters, included a former love, Ilsa. The coat that goes from Joey Doyle, to Timothy J. Dugan, and finally Terry is very similar to the boots from All Quiet On the Western Front. Unlike the boots though, the jacket doesn't completely foreshadow impeding death, even if two of the characters that possess it meet such a fate, but instead their willingness to speak out against Johnny Friendly and his organization.
Another factor is the assistance from the women in their lives to bring them closer to redemption. For Rick, Ilsa's return in his life reminds him of time in his life when he once cared for something other than himself. Seeing her love for her husband, and his devotion to his cause is a reawakening to Rick that he too once believed in something, something worth fighting for. Terry falls in love with Joey's sister, Edie, and through her realizes the good fight for better work conditions for longshoremen. He grows to learn that he's always taken the dive and never stood up for himself.
Redemption in both these movies portray important messages to the audience that the filmmakers wished to share. In Casablanca it was to symbolize of how isolationism was not the best policy for the U.S. in the Second World War, and in On the Waterfront it was to represent that it takes more bravery to speak out against those who take advantage over the weak.
comments powered by Disqus