So because basically he's all "In
one of the gin joints, in all
the lousy towns in the world
- and then she walks in!"
They had a history, you see, but
you don't know that. You find out
later. He'd already had a history
himself: a real idealist, mercenary
type. Running guns, participating
in losing revolutions, he thought
he was pretty much "all man"
and knew the difference. But
he had to take a little break
in Paris, between gigs, didn't he? It must have been
fate at hand,
that day - because next thing
you know, she meets this guy
and they're being all coy and
joyfully mysterious about their
pasts. Drinking, smoking,
implying sex, it was as if
it was a game to them. A game
they'd heard about before - no time
for it, then. But now, it was a game
they could both afford to play,
because it was so plain
they'd already secretly
by that point, what did the past matter?
As it turns out, he was kidding himself.
He thought he was the one from the big
dark past with shadowy crap in it,
meanwhile she herself was just about
as rough and tumble a revolutionary
as he'd been - and worse,
even more willing
to sacrifice what's worth living for,
even more willing
to sacrifice everything
for a hard, bad cause:
Next thing you know, like a chump
in the rain clutching a note,
all the meaning in the world
was running away
and he finally realized that train
wasn't ever going there. Somebody lied,
or maybe somebody just didn't say
the truth out loud.
It amounted to the same thing: beans. One hill.
By then, naturally
the only thing left with meaning
in life was to go crawl to some
Gottforsaken desert hole, and act
mister big shot in a white tuxedo jacket,
play coy and mysterious with suave,
brutal German honchos, wink sarcastically
at the disgusting antics of the barbarous
French sheriff, bandy a lot of banter
with Sidney Greenstreet and assorted
other characters, and then what?
Everybody's sitting there by this point
going, "the dialogue is delicious!" "How
can this man possibly have so much savoir faire and yet
care so little about it?"
It's because they don't know the history. Then
she walks in with it.
was treated so cruelly in that movie,
you know. The story's famous, and as it happens,
it goes that they shot both endings. All along
the way - even in the flashback scene,
she shouldn't have even been thinking about it!
- the actress had no idea which man
she's going to end up with
Much like life, really,
but a cruel way to treat an actress. How's
she supposed to describe an arc?
When she knows somewhere out there,
in the future, an alternate ending
DVD extra has already happened
- was released.
And that was the real film, in that universe.
In that universe, everybody said "Ah! Casablanca.
A slight film, a charming film,
a film with wit and characters - not much
heft to it, but at least there's a happy ending!
That much is certain,
those two were made to end up together,
early, often, and ever after. What
a piece of business."
And so she had no idea. What universe
was she living in?
And she looked it! She looked like
she came in from a better one, still
had hopes of getting back there.
But at the point of her crisis, she gave up on love
for what was right. He, meanwhile, gave up on love
because of what was right.
That's also why he gave up
on what was right, or had been. He'd found out,
by then, what was worth living for.
What's right isn't it. Not a broken man, just
a bent animal in a white tuxedo jacket
and a sense of style, both of which
fit perfectly. And by then,
she walked in.
God damn it I hope I never hear that song again But
if she can stand it, so can I.
I learned all those
same lessons he did, when
I first saw the film. And
I was deeply moved because
it was just a movie. That's
what consoles us to these things. That's
what reconciles us to movies. Later,
I was sitting in a gin joint
in some forsaken town in the real world,
or what suddenly no longer passed for it:
because all of a sudden, she walks in.
It's all a lot of history,
and it never amounts to much.
The right person got on the plane,
that's all that matters.
It took me forever to realize that
the whole time, she didn't know who
she was going to end up with.