“I believe that you are the devil himself!”: Lent in Casablanca, Night 22

That quote is not from Casablanca, lest ye be wondering.  It’s a line from “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  It’s a Sherlock Holmes story, one of the approximately 100% of the Holmes stories I love.

In Night 21, I posted a link to the lovely story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  After re-reading the story, I explored other offerings on www.pagebypagebooks.com only to discover all these Holmes stories.  Awesome! Sherlock Holmes’ adventure took me someplace I haven’t been in a long time.

See, in addition to my nightly Casablanca viewing, I just finished re-reading the Lisbeth Salander trilogy.  They go together in my mind, simply because I’ve taken the liberty of writing Lisbeth into Casablanca. 

It’s odd how that works.  When I watch Casablanca now, I can feel her presence in that little world.  Same, too, when we get to the marketplace scenes: I just accept that Annie the Soapmaker’s stall is next to the guy hawking tablecloths. 

To me, it’s the same basic idea as drinking in a large chain bar & grill–say, hypothetically, Bennigan’s.  At no point during one of my little multi-hour barstool tenures was I ever aware of everybody else in the building.  I’d notice my friends and fellow bar area denizens, of course, and I’d notice some of the groups in the dining area, but over the course of a night, dozens and dozens of people of every stripe came in, ate a meal, paid their check, and left, all without blipping my radar.

I sort of feel like I’ve inhabited the world of  “Casablanca.” I know the story forward and backward–I was singing along with “Die Wacht am Rhine” the other night, for cryin’ out loud–but my attention has turned beyond the main characters.  I’ve begun to notice some of the background action, and that has sparked my imagination. 

Whereas before, I was only really aware of Annina and Jan when they came to Rick’s, I now notice them everywhere: in the first scene as the plane flies overhead, in Ferrari’s Blue Parrot, in Captain Renault’s office.  I look at characters like the snooty rich people playing cards, and I wonder where they stay.  I wonder how much Victor & Ilsa’s room costs per night, and if they’re at a chain hotel or a one-off.  Everybody smokes constantly, but where do they buy their cigarettes? There are cars driving around, but are there gas stations?

For that matter, can you buy cigarettes at the gas station? Can you buy a six-pack of beer? Are there crappy burritos & lottery tickets?

Is there a grocery store in Casablanca? Seriously.  Annina and Jan from Bulgaria are fleeing to America, and they’re having trouble because of how expensive travel is.  Could they go to a supermarket and buy a loaf of bread and a jar of store-brand peanut-butter to save on meals?

I wonder if anyone in Casablanca will be eating cereal tomorrow morning.  I can’t imagine Ilsa sitting down to a bowl of CheeriOats on the veranda (they didn’t become Cheerio’s until 1946 (CheeriOats became Cheerios; verandas remained verandas)). 

Good Lord, does Casablanca have any CUPCAKES???

The longer I spend in Casablanca–the more familiar I grow with its reality–the more questions I end up pondering. 

Casablanca is an exotic world, without being overly exotic.  Compare it to an Indiana Jones movie.  Indy travels to all manner of exotic locales, and we are bashed over the head with each of them.  Casablanca is filmed on a Warner Brothers soundstage.  That whole exotic world? Save for one scene at the Van Nuys Airport, it’s all sets and backdrops, camera angles and imagination. 

Despite this, the story is rich enough to create a world I can fully inhabit, a world where I can run into Lisbeth Salander at the Casablanca Gas & Go; we’d nod to each other as we buy frozen pizza and sodas, and smirk as Ilsa buys overpriced Lingonberry Pop-Tarts for Victor.

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2 Responses to ““I believe that you are the devil himself!”: Lent in Casablanca, Night 22”

  1. What do you mean “crappy burritos”?!? Ain’t no such thang!

    Mmm… pop-tarts…

  2. christinaheart Says:

    I think The Yellow Wallpaper is one of those stories you have to read multiple times to really appreciate it. At least that’s how it is in my mind. Maybe I’m just emotionally stunted.

    If there are no cupcakes, I never want to visit that place. Nope.

    I’ve noticed rugs lately. I’ll be watching a show, putting my brain on autopilot and all of the sudden I’ll be thinking, “wow, that’s a great rug!”

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