The Character Comparison of Bonnie and Clyde and Casablanca

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Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942) was made in 1942, during World War Two, and is a love story between Rick and Ilsa who met in Paris and are reunited in Casablanca. Rick realises Ilsa has a husband and the narrative follows Rick and Ilsa reminisce over their past and Rick helps Ilsa and Laszlo to escape Casablanca. Casablanca is a film that is made during the era when Hollywood studio systems were in control of what was being made, this era is also called Classical Hollywood. The studio had control over the directors and actors so no experimental films was being released. The films produced were also strict due to the Hayes Code, which meant no violence, blasphemy or sexuality can be shown on screen they had to show good standards of life and they had to be an example of what people experienced during war and how they had to sacrifice everything and do the right thing for their country. this film targeted older generation who already experienced the war and the Vichy government.

Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967) are about two lovers, Bonnie and Clyde, who start robbing banks together and end up on the run around the south of America. Bonnie and Clyde is a film made during the French New Wave this era was also called new Hollywood. After the collapse of the main studio system, directors took influence from new movement, the main movement at the time was the French New Wave the directors and actors had more control in what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. Jean-Luc Goddard is known as the pioneer of the movement and it was created due to film critics not liking how films were not as innovative as they wanted to be. The aim of the French New Wave was that the filmmakers wanted to show real life through a different way of filmmaking. This film targeted and attracted younger and rebellious generation who was experiencing the need to break barriers and also people who were against the Vietnam war.

In Casablanca editing throughout the film is not used for effect but to tell the story. In the beginning, scene when the man is shot, there is a reaction shot to tell the audience how to feel after the event. continuity editing is used to tell the narrative in an order that is easy to understand. This links to Warner Bros House Style as editing was only used to keep the narrative going. In Casablanca, establishing shots are used at the beginning of most scenes. At the beginning of the film, there are close up shots of the market place and people selling items and going about their daily business. Establishing shots are used in Casablanca to set the scene to the audience and close-ups are used to show the exact location. This was typical of Warner Bros House Style as by showing an establishing shot this keeps the narrative logic of the film. Establishing shots were the most common way of opening a scene in the Warner Bros House Style. This was a common technique used during the Classic Hollywood era.

Extreme long shots are used to set the scene in Bonnie and Clyde. When Clyde meets Bonnie’s family for the first time on the hill, the scene and setting are established by using extreme long shots. This shows the location as a whole but does not establish what the scene will exactly look like, this is unlike Casablanca where close-ups are vital during establishing shots to show the audience the exact location. This links to the French New Wave movement as film directors wanted to show locations in a different way and not use the normal narrative structure of opening every new location with an establishing shot to be experimental. Establishing shots were not used in French New Wave films to increase the pace of the film.

In Casablanca, the performances from the actors are very theatrical almost Robot like as they don’t show any emotions. This is shown when the German aeroplane reaches Casablanca and the German and French converse. The actors stick to the script so there is no improvisation and this gives a linear performance from the actors. The dialogue is only used to keep the story going and is not for effect. The Warner Bros House Style never wanted the performance to stray into sentimentality, which is why the performances in Casablanca are linear yet theatrical.

In contrast, Bonnie and Clyde use improvisation to make the story seem more realistic. Bonnie and Clyde often talk over each other, this is shown when they met for the first time outside Bonnie’s house. This makes a realistic performance unlike Casablanca as the performance is a lot more staged. During the French New Wave, the Hayes Code was broken and it was more explicit which is why performances could become much more realistic as it was more common for actors to swear and kiss in films. The French New Wave wanted to be experimental and not stick to the script, which is why Bonnie and Clyde is more of a realistic performance than Casablanca. Warren Beatty, the producer and lead actor in Bonnie and Clyde, was well known for improvisation and he started the trend of improvisation among other star actors. At the end of Bonnie and Clyde when the two robbers are getting shot, the violent sequence was extended and shown in slow motion. This is to make the audience face the death of the two main characters.

Humphrey Bogart, who plays Rick in Casablanca, was well-known for being in noir films. Rick is shown in film noir lighting for example when we see Rick for the first time in his cafe. This links to the Warner Bros House Style as the studio liked to show off their actors for what they are most well known for and to highlight what Humphrey Bogart is most famous for as people would want to watch Casablanca see him. Cinematographer Arthur Edeson was well known for filming the first noir style film and Edeson utilises this to show off Bogart for what he is known for.

Bonnie and Clyde are influenced by the French New Wave. Unlike Casablanca, the film is not based around one actor but a movement. The difference between the two films is that people would watch Bonnie and Clyde for the narrative and not solely for the actors. This links to the French New Wave as directors were encouraged to show off their skills, meaning that the actors were less important than they were in the Warner Bros House Style. Casablanca represents men and women very stereotypically however for the time it was politically correct to assume these stereotypes.

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The men are represented as strong and powerful but also shown to be gentlemen with a certain kind of sophistication, they are always shown to be quite dominant over the women in which they treat the women not as equals this shows that the men hold the power at this period it's almost coming across as sexist. The women or female characters are represented as weak, naive and somewhat pathetic, they are shown as high society airheads nothing more than a pretty face or an accessory on a gentlemen 's arm with no real strong characteristics or free thought always being told what to do or told how to act. Ilsa is portrayed more as a challenge for Rick, not as a character. The audience sees Rick’s flashbacks, but not hers. Her story is told as an explanation for Rick. While there is development through the actions of Captain Renault and Rick, Ilsa remains flat. The dramatic and soft lighting and shots of her heighten her portrayal as something to look at. And to show her angelic and innocent. This choice of filming highlights the general thinking in the 1940s that females were still thought to be merely objects of pleasure for their men, even while Rosie the Riveter was gaining popularity in the U. S. during WWII.

In bonnie and Clyde, The movie starts with an opening scene of Bonnie's bare neck and shoulders, implying her nudity that the camera never fully reveals to the audience. So already we see a change because the main female character is less conservative as we might've seen in older films and more sexualized. Also, as the film continues on we are introduced to a new character who lives up to the very stereotypical female role in society, named Blanche, who plays Buck's wife. If the spectator couldn't see the obvious masculine roles Bonnie was beginning to take on. they could see now compared to Blanche that she was. In one scene while they're taking photos, Blanche and Buck take one first and Blanche is very shy and bashful about taking a photo, yet Bonnie poses by herself holding a gun and uses Clyde's cigar, she even refuses to smile. That scene is just one of many that displays Bonnie's taking on of the more masculine role on their journey also she suggested the idea to take pictures with the sheriff which shows that she is in control.

Whilst Curtiz and Penn are not auteurs, their films follow a specific style like an auteur would even though this style of auteurship is not the norm. The work of Arthur Edeson, Max Steiner, Jack Warner and Michael Curtiz, as well as the Warner Bros House Style, makes the film follows a specific style which makes all of these factors an auteur, however Curiz used someone his signature moves which was zooming out using crane shot and showing that the characters are trapped and they can't escape. Arthur Penn was inspired by the French New Wave movement and his film is his take on the movement. With the help from Dede Allen and Warren Beatty, Penn created a film which was influenced by many auteurs in the French New Wave movement, from the clothes and hair to Bonnie’s room decoration everything was inspired and showed elements of the 1960s and french new wave. Therefore the films do have signature auteur features but not the conventional features of an auteur film.

Both films are made by the same studio Warner brothers however you can see how the company developed throughout the years to fit in with the new Hollywood. From using low key lighting, targeting the older generation and following the Hay’s code to breaking Hay’s code and getting more explicit to target the younger generation. Both films were made during a conflict period, Bonnie and Clyde were made during the Vietnam war and Casablanca was made during the Vichy government, WW2 and when Nazis took over Germany. The central relationship of both films are Romantic, in Casablanca not much love is expressed as they have to follow certain filming rules during Classic Hollywood, however, on Bonnie and Clyde the rules were broken and the characters could express their feeling and they could show their love for each other by kissing and being close to each other.

In the 1960s, America was becoming even riskier with the young generations beginning to drink and use drugs, in the 60s in America violence was on an incline especially after the Kent State massacre and the Vietnam war being the first televised war, ever. Even though Bonnie and Clyde are set in 1930s America, aspects of the 1960s are still relevant in the film such as the overuse of symbolism and references to sexuality that had never been seen before by the American public to that extent. In 1929 the Wall Street crash devastated America, leading to hyperinflation, loss of properties and savings, poverty and because of low morale, many people turned to crime.

Although Bonnie and Clyde are criminals, they are designed for the spectator to almost feel sorry for them and like them as they almost connect with the spectator through satirical hatred of the upper class and government which contributed to its popularity. The end scene starts with Clyde driving with Bonnie, wearing sunglasses which has only one lens which already foreshadows that this scene is not going to end up in favour of them. Bonnie is leaning towards Clyde which highlights their relationship status and shows that they are now close to each other. We get a cross-cut to Malcolm fixing his tyre and looking around which makes the spectator feel like there’s something wrong and this raises the tension. Next, we cut back to Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie reaches to the back seat and grabs a green apple then she bites the apple and then feeds Clyde this shows that she cares about him. When bonnie and clyde sees Malcolm fixing his tyre they stop and clyde gets out the car to help him, this highlights clyde’s true face and his character development as he gets out of the car without his gun, this makes his vulnerable as he is unprotected of the upcoming events and also shows that he trusted Malcolm. As he gets closer to Malcom a group of birds instantly fly in the opposite direction to hint that something bad is going to happen. editing cuts Bonnie, Clyde and Malcolm, s faces to manipulate time and show their reactions, then there’s a close up of Bonnie and Clyde when Malcolm jumps under his car to show them realising that it is the last time they are looking at each other, then the police appears from behind the trees shooting them as quickly as possible, this scene is very graphical and violent. Clyde drops the apple and he rolls as he gets shot, the slow motion makes the scene aestheticaly beautiful as we can see their dance like deaths. Bonnie’s big scream gets over powered by the diegetic sound of shooting and also the way that the bullets move her body side to side shows how strong the bullets are. this shows the opposite side /police as barbarian and evil. clyde rolls after he gets shot which highlights the scene where the kid in picnic pretended to be clyde and rolled down the hill. This made the spectator realise that his death was already been foreshadowed. After the shooting there’s no diegetic or non-diegetic sounds, this silence represents their death and makes the spectator feel like they are grieving. Finally there’s an unknown point of view shot from the behind of the car looking at the police.

The closing scene of Casablanca starts with a wide shot of Strasser driving to where Rick, Ilsa and Victor are. This makes the spectator worry about him catching Ilsa and victor. Next we cut to the airport where Rick, Ilsa and Victor are, Rick makes louis fill in the transit tickets then he stands next to victor and Ilsa in a 3shot. half of Rick and Ilsa’s face are hidden to show that they are hiding their emotions from each other. Victor is wearing a white hat suggesting that he will be the hero of his country as he want to fight for what’s right. Rick is placed at the right hand side which shows that he is the hero of the story according to Props theory. When Rick finaly hands them their tickets Ilsa objects and Rick tells Ilsa that he thought for them both an decided that this was the right thing to do. here the role of women during that time is highlighted as Rick, a man had to decide what was right for a women. Soft focus and catch lighting was used on Ilsa to show that she is emotional and that she doesn’t want to separate from Rick. then Rick talks to Victor and tells his that Ilsa went to his place last night lying about how she still loves his to get the tickets, he did this to make sure that Ilsa goes with Victor happy and also made Ilsa look like a Hero. this shows that Rick felt that Ilsa needed to be protected. the non-diegetic music of “as the time goes by” is played in the background, this adds an emotional element as they don’t want to separate but they have to do the right thing for their country. As rick talks to victor Ilsa sobs in the background, you cant see rick or Ilsa’s face in this shot which suggest that they are hidding their emotions from each other. after saying goodbyes, the music changes to a classical romantic song, the Lazlo’s board the plane. just the stresse arives, he calls the radio tower to prevent the plane from leaving. Before rick shoots him, the number of shot reverse shot increases to raise the tension between those 2. the pace of editing also increases to highlight their dynamics. when Rick shoots him, both Rick and Strasser don’t show any reactions, the scene is very fast and there isn’t any graphics such as blood.

The french police arrive and louis, who has seen everthing orders, “Round up the ususal suspects”. This movement shows his character develepment and also foreshadows how he will become a patriot and realise his responsibility towards fighting for his country. As the cops drive off, Louis congradulates Rick on becoming a patriot and then becomes patriot himself, symbolized by his throwing out a bottle of vichy water, the vichy water was produced in the unoccupied region of France that persecuted jews and tried to win Nazi favour. 2shot is used to show that they are now friends and there is no distance between them. Rick and Louis walk along the runway together. Here crane shot and the bird’s viewers used to zoom out of Casablanca and this might also suggest that they will move on from casablanca. Louis says he can arrange for Rick to escape to Brazzaville, another colony in Africa, and then announces he will go too. The movie ends with Rick sying the famous line “i think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. ” the ambient sound “la marseillase” plays in the background. The resolution is unsatisfying as rick and ilsa didn’t end up being together, however the end scene(catharsis)/ an emotional release as rick and Louis plan their next step.

Ilsa never showed her love like Bonnie, she even tried to hide her emotions before separating to get to the plane. This shows that they didn’t have an open relationship. Ilsa doesn’t let Rick see her cry and even when she cries in front of him, rim lighting is used so you can only see half of her face, she is sexually repressed as she doesn’t show any signs of wanting Rick’s attention, this shows that their relationship is now not close. However Bonnie in the last seen is not scared to share her emotions with Clyde, Bonnie and Clyde were sitting very closely together driving to their next destination while bonnie was feeding Clyde a green apple. This shows how they had an open relationship and suggest that she doesn’t care about other people’s opinion.

Non-diegetic sounds are used often in Casablanca. One example of when a sound is used is when Rick, Ilsa and Laszlo are driving to the airport and the score is used to create tension. Non-diegetic composed sounds are used to set the scene and mood so the audience can expect what is to come in the scene. This links to Warner Bros House Style as the composer, Max Steiner, as he wanted to create dramatic, memorable scores that matched the themes and characters on the screen. This is different to Bonnie and Clyde as there are not many non-diegetic composed scores, this is specifically noticeable in the end scene where Bonnie and Clyde are being shot and all you can hear is the gunshots. This is so the audience is faced with the reality of the scene and what is happening. Non-diegetic composed scores are not needed in Bonnie and Clyde to set the mood as the mood is set through the action on the screen. This links to the French New Wave as directors liked to be experimental by playing with non-diegetic sounds and diegetic sounds to get a reaction out of the audience. At the end of Bonnie and Clyde, they die together suggesting that they will be each other’s last love forever. However, on Casablanca, Ilsa and Rick had separate future plans as Ilsa was going with Victor to have a new life and Rick was going to a new country probably not see Ilsa again. The authority looks barbaric and violent at the end of Bonnie and Clyde and is made fun of throughout the film for example (sheriff). however on Casablanca even when Rick shot an authority it shows that he had a reasonable excuse for it as he did the right thing to make sure Victor leaves and fights for what's right.

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