Casablanca and the Four Levels of Worldview: Why Everyone Meets at Rick’s

Part of ongoing series:  Hollywood and Higher Education: Teaching Worldview thru the Stories We Live By

By changing the foundational story of Rick’s life from that of a self-centered love-betrayed to the story of a other-centered love renewed, Ilsa transforms Rick’s values and rule of life as well. 

by Gary David Stratton • Senior Editor

urlSince its initial release seventy-five years ago, Casablanca has grown to become one of the most beloved films in the history of American cinema. Winner of three 1942 Academy Awards in (best picture, best writing, and best director)  Casablanca is now recognized by the Writers Guild of America as the greatest screenplay of all time, and by the American Film Institute as the second greatest American movie ever.[1] Even in the high-tech world of Blu-ray players and streaming video, this black-and-white masterpiece remains an enduring favorite with both contemporary audiences and critics alike.

Casablanca also provides a compelling example of the four levels of worldview, and how change at the story level can lead to dramatic change in every level of worldview. Character development (both cinematic and moral) “flows” from the hidden recesses of our life story, where our unexamined presuppositions about reality form a worldview that guides our life in ways we rarely think about in our day-to-day existence. In life and great films, we experience our worldview on four overlapping, but distinguishable levels. [2]

Four Levels of Worldview

Level 1) Actions and Behaviors: The countless personal decisions and moral judgments we make on a daily basis make up the visible tip of the iceberg of our largely hidden worldview. We glide through thousands of “preconditioned” responses each hour—what to wear, where to live, who to befriend, when to lie, how to speak—simply doing what we do, without ever examining why we do them. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred these decisions predictably emerge from the lower levels of our worldview, usually without any conscious awareness of why we make them.

Level 2) Rule of Life: The next level of our worldview is found in the rules and roles defined for us in the traditions and ‘scripts’ society develops to maintain equilibrium, or the personal strategies developed by us to cope with the difficulties of life. At this level our worldview provides a ‘rule of life” that defines our relationships, and the boundaries and maxims we use to guide our own personal behavior.  The clothes we buy, the worship we express, and even the words we use, are dictated by cultural expectations and personal habits far beyond our normal self-awareness.

The countless decisions we make each day are but the visible tip of the iceberg of our largely hidden worldview.
The countless decisions we make each day are but the visible tip of the iceberg of our largely hidden worldview.

3) Value and Belief System: The rules and roles we follow on a daily basis are normally based upon a presuppositional value and beliefs system that undergird these conventions, (once again, usually sub-consciously.) These principles, doctrines, aphorisms, and symbols are the often unspoken “commanding truths, which define the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ of our experience, and accordingly, the good and evil…” [3] They provide the language and categories by which we unconsciously interpret reality and make sense out of our experiences of our life.

Level 4) Stories and ‘Scriptures’: The deepest level of our worldview is normally found in the stories of our life-shaping personal experiences and our community’s authoritative ‘scriptures’ that form the basis of our principles and strategies for living. The three upper levels are “embedded within narratives that often have overlapping themes and various myths that often reinforce common ideals.” [4] The personal and corporate stories we live by are self-evidently true to us (even if they are, in fact, hopelessly false). To question them is to question reality itself. [5]

Constructing a False Worldview

At first glance Rick seems the model narcissist, longing only to catch the only plane out of Casablanca while sticking his neck out for nobody.
At first glance Rick seems the model narcissist, longing only to catch the last plane out of Casablanca while sticking his neck out for nobody.

Casablanca provides a beautiful example of all four levels of this process. Originally entitled, “Everyone Meets at Rick’s,” this masterpiece traces the worldview transformation of American expatriate and nightclub owner, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart). Set against the backdrop of Nazi-controlled but unoccupied north African territories of Vichy France during WWII, the movie opens with a bitter and cynical Rick Blaine making his daily decisions (level 1) out of a fairly consistent rule of life (level 2).  He never drinks with customers, never commits to a woman, never takes sides in a political debate, and never intervenes to help others. His narcissistic value and belief system (level 3) leaves little room for anyone but himself, his alcoholism, his business, and his business partner, Sam.  His value system (level 3) is clearly expressed in his famous rule of life (level 2), “I stick my neck out for nobody.”

Captain Louis Renault is the first to recognize a deeper story rumbling beneath Rick's cynical shell
Captain Louis Renault is the first to recognize a deeper story rumbling beneath Rick’s cynical shell

However, as the movie progresses we learn that Rick’s worldview wasn’t always so jaded.  In fact, both French prefect Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) and Nazi Gestapo Major, Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt) express concern that Rick’s current story might not be his true self. They note that there was once a time when Rick’s value and belief system led him to a rule of life marked by a heroic willingness to sacrificially fight against tyranny even in a losing cause. They don’t want Rick returning to this old rule of life by aiding Czech freedom fighter Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) in his attempt to escape Casablanca (and the Nazi) by means of a pair of stolen letters of transit granting the bearers free passage on a flight to neutral Portugal.

Movie Clip 1: Captain Louis Renault Accuses Rick of a Deeper Story

The beautiful and enchanting Ilsa Lund stole Rick’s heart in a whirlwind Paris romance Paris only to break it as the German tanks rolled into Paris.
The beautiful and enchanting Ilsa Lund stole Rick’s heart in a whirlwind Paris romance Paris only to break it as the German tanks rolled into Paris.

What Louis doesn’t know, is that Rick’s current rule of life and value system are driven by a heart-wrenching story (level 4). Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), a beautiful and enchanting Norwegian once stole Rick’s heart in a whirlwind Paris romance at the outset of WWII.

Movie Clip 2: Paris

However, after swearing her undying love, Ilsa abandons Rick just as the German army descends upon Paris. By the time Rick gets to Casablanca Ilsa’s betrayal provides the seething caldron of molten anguish driving Rick’s cynical value system and narcissistic rule of life. Like the city where he dwells in exile, his life is a desert with but one goal: escape.

A Different Story?

A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look on his face, because his insides had been kicked out.
A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look on his face, because his insides had been kicked out.

This is the story Rick is living when Ilsa turns up in Casablanca as the traveling companion for none other than Victor Lazlo. Confronted anew with heartache of Paris, Rick’s narcissistic behavior only intensifies. Despite his admiration for Lazlo, Rick refuses to help the desperate couple. He stubbornly retains his “I stick my neck for nobody” rule of life even as Ilsa desperately tries to convey a different story than the one driving his current behavior.

Movie Clip 3: Ilsa Tries to Explain Her Story

Just when Rick’s journey toward the dark side seems complete, something happens that radically changes the interpretation of his entire life story. With the Nazi’s closing in and their every effort to escape Casablanca thwarted, the stolen letters of transit in Rick’s possession are now Isla and Lazlo’s only hope. A desperate Ilsa turns up at Rick’s apartment intent to do anything to obtain them.

Movie Clip 4: Midnight at Rick’s apartment

Ilsa’s startling admission begins to change Rick’s worldview at every level.
Ilsa’s startling admission begins to change Rick’s worldview at every level.

Ilsa’s startling admission that she still loves Rick begins to change Rick’s worldview at every level. He now knows that Ilsa left him behind in Paris only because she learned that Lazlo, her husband, was still alive. She was not living a story of a self-centered love betrayed, but rather one of heroic sacrifice. While no one yet realizes it, this new story of a sacrificial love-renewed (level 4) begins to invisibly reenergize Rick’s heroic value system (level 3), displacing his values of narcissism and his “I stick my neck out for nobody” rule of life (level 2).

In the iconic airport scene, Rick’s new worldview based upon his new story suddenly erupts into full view with a startling decision (level 1).

Clip 5: Rick and Ilsa at the Airport

Change the Story, Change the World

At the airport, Rick's new story empowers him to not only give up his ticket to freedom, but Ilsa as well.
At the airport, Rick’s new story empowers him to not only give up his ticket to freedom, but Ilsa as well.

It turns out that Captain Louis Renault was right about Rick all along. The real Rick Blaine is, in fact, a hero. The pain of losing Ilsa had created a false life narrative, but once he knew the real story, his value system and rule of life came back on line. Rick decides to give away his tickets to freedom to Ilsa and her husband (level 1), because he has (re)embraced his rule of life of to fight against tyranny even in a losing cause (level 2), rooted in his rediscovered value of self-sacrificing heroism (level 3), birthed by his true life story (Level 4). By changing the foundational story of Rick’s life from that of a self-centered love-betrayed to a story of an other-centered love renewed, Isla transforms Rick’s values and rule of life as well. He now sticks his neck for everybody, even the husband of the woman he loves.

In the end, the power of Rick’s true story is becomes so compelling it returns Louis to his own true story, values, and rule of life.

Movie clip 6: A beautiful friendship

Everyone Meets at Rick’s

url-1
“This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” In the end, even Louis is caught up in Rick’s heroic transformation.

One reason why Casablanca resonates so deeply with audiences is our strong identification with Rick. We have all been hurt deeply. We all develop belief systems and strategies to protect ourselves from further pain. We all know what it is like to have those rules of life sabotage our heroic journey. We all know what it is like to be trapped in a life story that hurts everyone around us and yet we are powerless to change.  We all want to believe that we are the master of our own fate, freely making our own choices at any given moment, when in reality our unexplored stories, unexamined values, and unexamined rules of life dictate much of our daily decision-making. Sooner or later, everyone meets at Rick’s.

For those who are willing to listen, the deepest longings of our heroic life story may be churning just beneath the surface and well worth the journey of further exploration. Over the course of this ongoing series I hope to help you do exactly that. I’m hoping this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Next posts in series:

Fiddler on the Roof: Worldview Change and the Journey to Life-Interpreting Story

The Volcano in Your Backyard: Micro-Worldviews and the Honeymoon from Hell

See also:

Hollywood and Higher Education: Teaching Worldview Through Academy Award-winning Films

Crash goes the Worldview: Why Worldview Transformation Requires Changing Scripts

It’s a Wonderful Worldview: Frank Capra’s Theistic Masterpiece

Bungee-Jumping to Eternity: The Existential Angst of Dead Poets Society

Deep Culture: Is Winning an Oscar a Reliable Indicator of a Truly Great Film?

If you Live it, They Will Come: The Blind Side and Better Faith-Based Filmmaking

 

Related Posts:

Using Zombie Movies to Teach Politics, by Daniel W. Drezner

The Joker Is Satan, and So Are We: René Girard and The Dark Knight, by Charles Bellinger

Echoes of René Girard in the Films of Martin Scorsese: Scapegoats and Redemption on ‘Shutter Island,’ by Cari Myers

Hitchcock and the Scapegoat: René Girard, Violence and Victimization in The Wrong Man, by David Humbert

 

 

Notes

[1] Casablanca is currently #25 rating on the IMDB all-time best film list. Michael Curtiz, Julius J. Epstein, Howard Koch, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, et al. Casablanca (Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 1999).

[2] Followers of Arthur F. Holmes’ will notice that I am using his categories for evaluating ethical decisions.  See, Ethics: approaching moral decisions. Contours of Christian philosophy (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007), 52-80. See also, Lawrence Kohlberg, The Development of Children’s Orientations Toward a Moral Order (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press); Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press); and, James W. Fowler, Stages of Faith: the Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981).

[3] James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World (Oxford University Press, 2010), 32. To be fair, Hunter considers all four levels to be overlapping elements of “culture,” not worldview. However, this is at least somewhat a matter of semantic disagreement between philosophers (who study worldviews),and sociologists, like Hunter (who study cultures.)

[4] Hunter, Change, 33.

[5] What I am calling the ‘Story’ level of worldview is what philosopher James K. A. Smith refers to as the ‘pre-worldview’ level of ‘social Imaginary.’  “The social imaginary’ is an affective, noncognitive understanding of the world. It is described as an imaginary (rather than a theory) because it is fueled by the stuff of the imagination rather than the intellect: it is made up of, and embedded in, stories, narratives, myths, and icons. These visions capture our hearts and imaginations by “lining” our imagination, as it were— providing us with frameworks of “meaning” by which we make sense of our world and our calling in it. An irreducible understanding of the world resides in our intuitive, precognitive grasp of these stories. Desiring the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Publishing Group, 2009), p. 68.

 

 

219 Replies to “Casablanca and the Four Levels of Worldview: Why Everyone Meets at Rick’s”

  1. I really enjoyed this. I almost didn’t read it because I don’t know the movie but you did a masterful job explaining it. Thanks for inspiring me this morning Dr. Stratton!
    ~TPD

  2. This movie tell me the story of how to look out for yourself. Our culture gives us the ability to be protective of our personal life. Rick seemed to be a hard core case, because of his past.

  3. Casablanca was a good story. The first time I watched it I was a little surprise of the ending. The second time it made much more sense. I like how Rick was able to see the truth the the "girl" did not used him, but that their life was at different points and her commitment to her husband, now not death husband, was the reason why she did not showed up at the Station. "We'll always have Paris" was the way to summed it all up. we had our time in Paris we felt in love, but the reality it's bigger than that and I'm okay with it.

  4. What I learned about the four levels of worldview through Casablanca is the decisions you make will impact others even if the impact is not apparent at the time. Those decisions are made based off our culture, philosophies and experiences. In Casablanca, Rick wants to choose a life of selfishness, but through his actions of helping the young newlywed couple and Ilsa, I believe his philosophical beliefs outweighed the other three levels.

    1. Yes, Rick did showed more about the person he was and not the self-center person he was living as. When I think about it, what If Ilsa had not been back in his life?

  5. How interesting it was to watch one of my favorite movies, Casablanca, from a more analytical perspective. I've seen it probably 20 times, but had always enjoyed it as a love story and historical drama, never really examining Rick's worldview or the impact of the events of the story on it. I think one of my favorite things in the story has always been the way you could sense this former strength in Rick, but he is so defeated. It is so satisfying to see that once he is forced to confront the reasons for his cynicism, he is able to access that strength and ultimately return to the fight for righteousness and justice (both for the woman he loves and the greater effort against the Nazis) with self-sacrifice. It's so lovely to see him rediscover his true self, and that wraps up the movie so nicely. Examining the story from a worldview perspective, it suggests to me that when we are willing to confront the myths with which we operate in our lives, and the way our experiences have shaped us, we have an opportunity to reach further potential and really live to our full potential rather than just be defined by those myths and experiences. If we can recognize that easily, it could really make a difference in our lives.

    1. Tremendous summary and insight. I love "when we are willing to confront the myths with which we operate in our live… we have an opportunity to …really live to our full potential…" Yes! That's what it's all about!

    2. I to agree it was interesting to see the change in Rick. I had not seen the movie before and I have to admit i really enjoyed it. I found it amazing how quickly Rick gravitated toward helping others and working to even make Casablanca a better place after he experienced some closure with a former girlfriend. It is strange how people can have such an impact on changing our world views.

    3. Your point about having an "opportunity to reach further potential" really points out what is refreshing about Casablanca. There is opportunity in our lives and Rick was a character that showed how it could be achieved.

    4. Yes, I too like the love story, but it's about more than Rick and Ilsa… and it's very nice to see how Rick realizes that and how he explains that to her.

  6. When I first started this class I had no idea what "world view" was and the huge impact it had on my life. As I read Gary’s article it occurred to me that not only do we all have a world view inside of us, it comes out in the things we do and how we act. I also didn’t understand the four levels, but now that I do it makes the movie more interesting to me, and I get that “AHAH” moment even as I’m typing this.

  7. When people behave the way Rick does at the beginning of Casablanca, it's because something has happen in their life that causes them to be closed off. Rick had put up his guard so no one would hurt him again the way Ilsa did. However, when you truly love someone you are willing to tisk it all for that person's happiness just like Rick did by helping Victor and Ilsa get out of Casablanca. The Rick's worldview was altered by love and war.

    1. Yes, that is it exactly, "something has happen in their life." Our worldview isn't just some vague philosophical idea, it is the real and often painful stories that shape our life.

    2. Generally when you meet someone exhibiting that type of behavior, it isn't instinctual to wonder about the things that have shaped that kind of worldview. It would be a good thing to consider that in our interactions with others and to be able to evaluate these types of things in our own lives as well.

  8. Casablanca was an interesting movie as it deals with a great deal of ethical issues and clearly illustrates how are worldviews can be fixed like Rick's is at the beginning of the movie. He is only thinking about himself and a narrow view of the world (level1). The arrival of Ilsa causes Rick to relive past pain but also to examine himself. Rick's worldview was blown wide open with the return of Ilsa and her husband Victor. Victor being a sympathitic figure to Rick cause him to go against his previous values and become the hero in the end. He sacrifices his love for Ilsa for a cause much greater than himself (level3).

    1. Good point on the forced pain causing Rick's worldview to be reevaluated. We avoid pain at all costs, but when I think about the shifts in my worldview that have occurred in my life, they often came after a period of discomfort or pain. I think the changes could be to your advantage or detriment…in this case it was for Rick's good.

    2. I find amazing how fast Rick was willing to change his word view after IIsa his former girl friend entered the scene. Makes me wonder if this is how world leader change our world views by introducing Myth to our reality. We grew up believing that people of the Soviet Union want to harms us when most Soviet's had no idea where the United States even even was. Or maybe in this case it had more to do with the power of love.

  9. In watching Casablanca I learned how myth can play a role in shaping our lives. Just as Rick allowed myth to shape his life we do the same at times. Rick believed that by moving to a new land he may find healing for the loss of a loved one. He continued to allow myth to further shape his life by believing he could protect his heart by not getting close anyone. We have myths that drive our lives as well. The rural community that I grew up in found it easier to not deal with though cultural issues by using myths to explain their misunderstanding of cultural differences. This caused people to draw lines in the sand based on myth not facts. Rick found the myth of a clean start in a new community to be full of myths about him as the towns people began to share stories of how they believed Rick had decided to reside in Casablanca.

    1. Kevin,

      You are correct about myths. They are around us everywhere and many are our own creations. Like Rick, as time has past my world views have changed and grown. Hidding from the world as Rick did is not a good choice but it happens to us all at times in our lives.

    2. Kevin, I think you hit it right on the nose, "He continued to allow myth to further shape his life by believing he could protect his heart.." It was a myth, both because it deeply shaped his life and because IT WASN'T EVEN TRUE! Well said!

    3. That's a good comparison of cultural myths in your own past to the ones in the story. Neither were accurate, or even fair, and yet are easily perpetuated. The rural ignorance continues to be passed on until it it is confronted; if not confronted with his past, Rick may have continued to live half-asleep like he was in Casablanca.

    4. You are right, Rick did allowed the 'Myth" to direct his life, he was hurting from the broken heart that his best way to protect himself from that was to keep himself detached from people and to only care about himself. Rick had to overcome his "Myth" to regain his life back.

  10. Casablanca was a typical, early Hollywood love story. I didn't find it life changing or morally challenging. Rick did what any good person in his position would do, he sent his love off with the person she should have been with in the first place, her husband. Personally, I think it was wrong of Ilsa to lead Rick on again, especially considering this was the 1940s. At that time, more than now, marriage was considered much more sacred of a union and something that should not be taken lightly. I understand why she fell in love with him in the first place, she was vulnerable and thought her husband had been killed but I would think when she found out he was alive, she would be over the moon elated and still deeply in love with him. But then again, this is Hollywood and that would not have made for a very good movie.

    1. Melissa, Very true, but then RIck didn't "get the girl" in the end. That makes it a very rare Hollywood film in any era. I've even had students who've been pre-conditioned to always have "love win" (even outside of marriage) get angry at the movie for breaking the mold. A mold that really needed to crack.

  11. “What I learned about the Four Levels of Worldview in Casablanca and their impact in my life.”

    Hmmm – the four levels described above make sense to me and make me wonder about my daily decisions. Do I rely too heavily on one vs the other? Do I not incorporate all options before moving forward with the best choice? As mentioned in the posting and readings, oftentimes we make gut reactions without ever realizing where that impulse came from. Eons of cultural, theological and moral ideals may be guiding our every move without any realization.

    On different note, I really do enjoy stories that incorporate all levels of worldview… but most specifically I love a story in which a character is readjusting their foundational worldview (hopefully for the better). This drastic change is really edifying when experiencing a story and one of my favorite to enjoy.

    1. Brianna, That's great! I want this article to "make me wonder about my daily decisions." It may be scary to see what we find, but our life will be richer, and truer!

  12. At first I had trouble following the movie at first, it had a lot of history that you had to know about to understand the details. But like I had said before, i don't understand why Rick would do anything different. Granted he would "have the girl" but i cant imagine living with myself knowing what he had done to Victor – someone who shares similar values, is fighting the same fight, loves the same one…is actually very similar to himself. It kinda reminds me of that stupid cliche …or is it a Sting song…'if you love something let it go'. Whatever the case, he "love" Ilsa so much that he understood what was best for her in the long run. He also what was best for him long term as well. Long term thinking though is not always prevalent in the world now a days, especially in a dangerous city like Casablanca. I have a feeling though that he was just fine..

    1. I agree with you Ash, I had trouble with the details at first, but you quickly realize that the details of the history in the movie have a ton to do with the moral issues. Also as you replyed to my post it was so nice to know where the cultural icons of the movie came from. I think it was best for him long term and that he was, indeed fine.

    2. By doing the right thing Rick was freed from the hurt the Ilsa caused him in Paris. He chose to be understanding and embrase what is right. Like you say he was probaly fine in the end. I tend to agree with that. Rick could move on a live rather then hide in the shadows of Casblance.

    3. Ashley, Well said, but your "i don't understand why Rick would do anything different" is a perfect example of a worldview statement. You simply can't imagine someone acting in any other way, when in fact, people act VERY differently nearly everyday.

  13. In Casablanca Rick starts out as a cold and impassionate person, who we latter find out is on the run from the Nazi’s and lost his love. When they both reappear in he is forced to confront his past. He could have continued with his “I don’t stick my neck out for nobody” act, but he lets the past go and ends up doing the right thing. Rick’s behavior at the end of the movie was more like that of what he was like during the flashback scene in Paris. Indicating that this may have been a very long emotional rollercoaster for Rick, who in the end is much more like himself of the past. In which he cared dearly for others in his life. I can draw a similar correlation in my life when my wife and I adopted her three siblings. While I wouldn’t call my behavior impassionate in regards to wanting to bring them into my newly formed family, I would say that I had to think more about others than I ever had in my only child life. Now 10+ years later, I can’t imagine what life would be like without them so close to us.

  14. I am not sure why I have never seen Casablanca. However I am in love with this movie. I reallize how selfish Rick was in the beginning of the movie and how easy it would have been for him to continue on with Isla, but he chose to be selfless and choose the right decision for the one person in the world that he loved the most. He chose to do whatever it took to keep her safe and happy and this was the ultimate sacrifice.

    1. I had never seen the movie either Elise! Black and white movies arnt usually something that excites me. This however was a classic that I was glad I saw. The librarian told me that I would watch a lot of parts of the movie that have become cultural icons .. ie 'Heres lookin at you kid'.

      It was a great love story! way better than the stuff they make now a days

    2. Elise,

      What Rick did in the end could only be described as heroic. He did what we all hoped he would in the end. As people in society we are all expected to do the right thing even if we stumble and fall at times. Rick was is a very dark place at the begining of the movie. His worldview changed quickly when Ilsa came back in the picture.

    3. I agree, "this was the ultimate sacrifice." He had everything within his power to do something different, but he didn't. I think Dave is right that this "can only be described as heroic."

  15. The Four Levels of Worldview in Casablanca were told in Rick's story. Rick chose to stop being cynical and quit conforming to the culture of "not sticking his neck out for nobody" long enough to do what was morally right. Rick's character had a history of fighting with/for the underdogs, but he lost that philosophy when Ilsa broke his heart. When Rick forgave Ilsa and realized that his love for her was greater than actually ending up with her, he returned to his foundational principles of helping others. Moral decisions, culture, philosophy, and myths/foundations impact my life daily, perhaps just not as dramatically portrayed in Casablanca, but I could relate to the story enough to pull from my own experiences. It's not always easy to do what you know is right in your mind when your heart wants something else. Sometimes it is easier to become bitter and cynical when you have been hurt. I'm pretty sure I've been "Rick" on occasion.

    1. Belinda you are right, it is not always easy to do what you know is right in your mind when your heart wants something else, however if you believe that things happen for a reason, good or bad, then this makes the decisions somewhat resonable at the time.

    2. Hahaha – I love that you coined the term "I've been a Rick"! Haven't we all? A lot of the themes you touched on were exactly what I wrote in my Casablanca worksheet. Sacrifice for what we want in the moment for a long-lasting gain is something that I know is the ultimate struggle. Why not eat the candy bar vs. the carrot stick? Why not help my older neighbor across the street even though he is so cranky and mean? Always trying to get less of me in my life and more of serving others and doing 'the right thing'.

    3. Belinda, Wow! That is almost a perfect summary, "Rick's character had a history of fighting with/for the underdogs, but he lost that philosophy when Ilsa broke his heart." I KNOW I've been a "Rick" on occasion too. The trick is to figure out what it is in YOUR story that drives you to that unhealthy strategy.

  16. After watching Casablanca and reading this article I have learned to go through life with greater awareness. As you mentioned we tend to "glide" through our responses. There are decisions I make and things I say that I may not totally be on board with, but I've been doing them and saying them for so long I just keep doing it. Being aware of my actions and recognizing the importance and implications that come with every decision and statement I make will help lead me in the right direction. More reasons and less gliding.

    1. It is amazing how many decisions we make without ever actually making them. They say that the road to t hell is paved with good intentions. Fortunately Rick found another path.

    2. I wonder how many times during a day we have the opportunity to change someones world view. But I have to think that more times than not we simply reinforce the existing cultural myths. I agree with you that we need to be cautious of our actions as they have a greater impact on others then we may know. It makes me want to reexamine the source of my believes to make sure the source was sound.

  17. Hi Nate, I agree with your assessment. A strong core of moral values will in the end determine the decisions that we make. This same core allows us to stay strong against life's adversities and temptations.

  18. In Casablanca, it is interesting to see how Rick's character changes from cynicism to self-sacrifice. Even though most of the movie portrays Rick as a cold and selfish individual, he did not seem to be the same individual when Ilsa first met him in Paris. Rick’s life experiences make him cold and unable to trust people. Despite his negative life experiences with the Nazis and Ilsa's love for two different man, his core morals remain untouched. When it came time to do the right thing, Rick knew that he had to renounce to Ilsa's love in order to achieve the greater good. He sacrificed his own happiness for the happiness of Ilsa and her husband. Reading this article reaffirmed me that a strong core of moral values is extremely important. This core is what allows us to stay strong against adversities and temptations.

    1. Andrea, I agree that "a strong core of moral values is extremely important." How do you maintain them in such a way that you don't wind up pushed off your core like Rick did?

    2. Andres, you raise a point that I thought of: What if the cynic was Ilsa? Did Ilsa lie to Rick that she still loved him to get Victor out of Casablanca? I don't believe that one can truly love two people the same way. Did Ilsa love Rick or her husband? Even though I raise these questions, I still enjoyed the great love story and Rick's amazing worldview transformation.

  19. I never thought that my stories have impacted or created my worldview. Casablanca gives us the ability to see how the stories we live really make us what we are and how we can change it. Rick changed his worldview because he was able to finally know why Ilsa didn't meet him that day in France. Would he have been able to change his worldview even if he would not have seen her again? It was refreshing to see the transformation in Rick and of course, everything turned out all right in the end, would the picture been as powerful if Rick would have been arrested? I like to see the good guys finish first.

    1. Becky, You raise a fascinating questions, "Would he have been able to change his worldview even if he would not have seen her again?" Most of us never do get an explanation of why people hurt us, let alone such a reassuring one. How do we "stay on story" when people hurt us deeply?

    2. Becky, I was waiting for Rick to get arrested at the end. I also enjoyed the transformation of Rick as his worldviews changed. Many people never change after bad things happen to them and they live a not so happy life. I wish more movies today can be made where "good guys finish first" instead of the "good guys finish dead."

    3. Your question about whether his worldview would have changed had he not been reunited with Isla is a good one. I wonder if Rick's story even been worthy of a movie had they not seen each other again. It also makes me wonder if people in real life have stories that aren't going they way they should or want, but they just need that one moment to alter their ending.

  20. Four Levels of Worldview
    What I learned about the Four Levels of Worldview in Casablanca and their impact in my life.” No matter how you may think you are making your own life, it has already been planned for you. Taking in consideration after this week reading, I now realize that I am in a culture if removed from I would be lost and without any worldviews. The four levels that has shaped my life that I was previously not aware of are Moral/Decisional, Cultural/Strategic, Philosophical/Presuppositional, and Mythical/Foundational. Which all are the mental things I have taken for granted. Without worldviews one would find it to be a struggle each and everyday just to survive spiritually. The movie also let me know how people and I can give up things that makes you happy to make others happy.

  21. I will admit, I have not thought much of worldviews or how/why, I make the decisions that I do every day, at least not until recently. I found the movie interesting and enjoyed the storyline. It left me wanting to know more about Rick's story in Spain and Ethiopia and what he was going to do next. The time he spent in Casablanca seemed more like an unfortunate detour and did not represent who Rick really was at his core. I did not think he "changed" at the end of the movie, but just got back in touch with whom he really was. That said, Rick's personal experiences obviously influenced his worldview for a period and he became a reflection of the city of Casablanca. Looking forward to this class and seeing everyone tomorrow night!

    1. Great insight Earnie! I really do think that these detours always seem pointless and so incredibly frustrating when we go through them, but once we are 'out' we can look back and see that God had a purpose all along. Never easy to go through the valley of sorrow and try to 'keep our eye on the prize' but it is this thought that usually gets me through whatever God has in store for me.

      See ya tonight in class! Looking forward to the interesting discussions to come!

  22. When I first sat down to watch Casablanca, I was not interested and couldn't understand why we had to watch the film and what did it have to do with the class as a whole? By the time the film was over all my questions were answered. I really enjoyed the film, the story line and the characters, including Rick towards the end. Rick started out a very self-absorbed individual, but after the many changes he experienced he realized that Ilsa belonged with Victor on that plan out of Casablanca. In order for his life to progress, Rick realized that he had to make a sacrifice for another human being, which is exactly what he did when he gave Victor his ticket out of town.

    1. Cassandra, I agree with you completely. I didn't want to watch an old black and white movie but I am glad that I did. This movie makes you realize that even people who are angry and closed off can change. Love is a powerful feeling that makes people act in unselfish way. This movie makes you feel good at the end.

    2. What made the story so powerful is the transformation of the main character, Rick. In the beginning you are not sure if you like him but by the end you are on his side. He showed high morals when he put his own feelings aside and did the right thing.

    3. I also did not understand why this class is so important. After watching the movie Casablanca I understand if we do not have worldviews we are of no mental existence. Rick turned out to have morals and had no regrets about helping Ilsa and Victor.

  23. Rick was in love and his world came crashing down when he realized he had lost Ilsa. He chose to become bitter and cold. When Isla came back into his life he allowed Ilsa to share why she decided to leave him. After understanding what influenced her decision he had a change of character. He showed kindness and valued Ilsa and Victors needs above his own. Even though it was a painful decision, Rick did what was morally right and gave the plane tickets to Ilsa and Victor. Just like sticking out my marriage was painful, in the end it was very rewarding.

  24. Growing up in a Christian home I was taught that divorce was wrong. However, when I hit some bumps in my marriage my views temporarily changed and I became selfish and wanted to take the easy road out by divorcing my husband. I kept telling myself that things would never change and that divorcing my husband was morally ok because so many people have taken that route. I found myself pointing the finger at my husband and never looking at my own faults. I fantasized about turning my miserable life into a love story like one you see in the movies by falling in love with someone new. I had my story all planned out, Mr. Right would find me, feel sorry for me and sweep me off my feet. Once I justified divorce was ok, I started telling myself other things like smoking and drinking were ok. God kept showing me in scripture that getting divorce was not a story he planned for anyone’s life. Through counseling, prayer, and work my story of conflict and drama in the end became a true love story…

    1. i LOVE this Kelly! Thank you for sharing you story. All too often we give into human weakness and quite without being able to see long term. Your determination was very similar in magnitude to the decision Rick made and it had just the same long term, selfless perspective.

  25. What I learned about the Four Levels of Worldview in Casablanca and their impact in my life is that society and the basic principles, morals and values taught to me as a child influence the decisions I make in life. Through self-examination and reading the scriptures and growing in my relationship with the Lord, my world views continue to change.

  26. (part 2) …Throughout the film, you watch him grow and change and in the end he ends up being selfless and gives Ilsa and Victor the ticket to freedom instead of using it himself. I think we need to realize as we go through everyday life that our decisions affect not only our own lives, but the lives of others as well. The movie made that point very poingtantly and it's a great lesson for all of us.

  27. What I learned about the four levels of worldviews by watching Casablanca first of all is the fact that every decision/action we make affects others and it affects our life paths. This has really made an impact in my life. For many years, I've gone through life with a childlike attitude, but not in a good way. I've made decisions just for the moment without thought to future consequences. I've also allowed others to make my decisions for me without a sense of ownership of my own life. As evidenced in the movie, the decisions Rick made affected his relationships and life choices. In the beginning, he was sort of stuck in a story of betrayal (level 4). He had a very narcissistic attitude and didn't care about anyone other than himself. When Ilsa enters the picture, she brought back old feelings for him. Rick realized that he used to care about something.

  28. What I learned about the four levels of worldview in Casablanca is that their actually was a worldview. I had never really thought of movies in this light before and to what an impact they make in our concious and unconcious lives. Ricks narcissism in the begining due to being stood up, later fades as he becomes aware of why she left. Rick then realizes how hard this was not only for him but also Ilsa and reverts back to his old self. It goes to show although we might not understand the reasons why things happen we should not let them get in the way of who we really are.

    1. I also learned that there is a worldview. I never considered worldview as stories. Stories we tell ourselves, stories we create, stories we lived. I never thought about Ilsa loving Rick and being disappointed about having to leave him in Paris, but her response to Rick was genuine and heartfelt. I believe she missed him too. How different the movie would have been if Ilsa and Rick had gotten together.

    2. I've never looked at movies and thought about their worldviews either. It kind of makes me want to go back and rewatch some movies to see what their worldviews are. I agree that we can't let things get in our way. Even though bad things may happen, we can't let them change us into hard careless people, we need to accept them as life and let them make us stronger.

    3. It is interesting because his worldview was hidden and what people seen was what he wanted them to see. In the beginning he appeared to be selfish and cynical, and in the end the person with morals and a consious was revealed.

  29. Rick started out pretty selfish. He was put into the position to change. Ilsa changed his thinking and maybe helped soften his heart. Much of life change is forced upon us. The world views expecial self-sacrifice and be coming a hero are not something you wake up to one day and say" today I'm going to be a hero"
    For me having kids and expecially teenage kids has caused me to be come less selfless. I not sure about the hero part. The belief that we are sinners and saved by grace would indicate that our natural tendency is to look out for ourself. So I think God puts us in situations to change, like some of Ricks dilemmas.

    1. I agree, God tests us by allowing things to happen and by the choices we make in life. I am so glade I know the Lord and that even when I make the wrong choices he convicts me and I recognize my faults and ask for forgiveness.

    2. Good Post Jerry. You are correct, much change is forced upon all of us. I think it's when we don't listen to our inner voice, or worldview, that we find ourselves headed in the wrong direction or lost. Much like Rick ended up in Casablanca. And YES, you are a hero to your family!

    3. Although I don't have kids, I do have a niece that I help raise and consider one of my own. Until now it has taken me to realize the true meaning of selflessness. I truely believe that the situation that God puts us in are going to force us to make the decisions that are meant to be.

  30. Part 2 (My comment was too long so here is the second part)
    For me, I learned that even when my daily routine is very busy, I need to slow down enough to appreciate the blessing in my life and to express appreciation to others. I also need to take the time to periodically re-evaluate my goals and what is really important in my life. Unfortunately, many times it takes a death of a loved one to slow down and enjoy what they have rather than pushing onward in our normal manner without even realizing what or why we are doing so.

    1. It is very difficult at times to slow down and realize the blessings you have in life. It is unfortunate that the realization comes from losing someone or something, but that does happen very often. Hopefully time will allow this with the fast paced world we live in today. Great insight!

    2. Colleen your absolutely right, sometimes unfortunately it does take the reality of death to "wake us up" and remember whats important in life. Thanks for the reminder.

    3. I too have learned not to be selfish but only at the cost of nearly losing a loved one. I had to stop being selfish and honor her wishes. She was in a car accident and had given instruction not to do blood transfusion. Her husband was in a state of confusion and asked me what should he do and I replied, " give her the blood." I was being very selfish because if it took the blood to keep my sister alive and with me then I wanted her to have it. Now on the moral side of the episode I had to respect her wishes and just like Rick I had to make a right or wrong moral decision in helping my brother-in-law . I gave up my selfish desire and respected her wishes. She is still with us and the doctors was able to give her some substituted blood.

  31. What I learned in about the four levels of worldview in Casablanca and their impact on my life.
    The film Casablanca began with the character “Rick” moving through his daily routine on a superficial level. He did not seem to give much thought to anyone that he interacted with, but rather he brushed them off as quickly as possible. In fact, his motto was “I stick my neck out for no one”. As the film progressed, he seemed to become more aware of the struggles that others face. This was evident when he instructed his employee to roll a 22 so that the young couple would win the money that they needed. Finally, at the end of the film, Rick made a sacrifice by sending Ilsa with Victor on the plane. This action showed that he was acting as “should” vs. “should not”, or in a good vs. evil way. He knew at that point that the world was bigger than himself and that he needed to do the right thing.

  32. Rick made a huge change from the beginning of the movie to the end. He began as a man who wanted to be left alone and wouldn't do anything for anybody. Then hope came when Ilsa came back into his life, until he found out she was married and had been when they were together in Paris. Then resentment and anger rise in him. The night Ilsa comes to Rick's and tells him the whole story, there is a softening in rick. He still loves Ilsa, but realizes how good a man Victor is and that he deserves Ilsa rather than him. He makes the great sacrifice of giving up his love to another man. I think this film is a great example of how to live our lives. Not necessarily the first half where he was selfish, but when he softened. Sometimes in life we need to realize it isn't all about us. We should try to think of others first at times and be willing to sacrifice to make others happy; I believe in turn this will make us happy too.

    1. This is a great post! I think you are right on when you say that sometimes we need to sacrifice to make others happy. This can make us happy at times, it can make us feel at ease with our decisions.

    2. I agree that when Rick hears the complete story is when his charactor change takes a major turn. I think that although Rick may or may like Victor is he realizes what importance he plays in the defeat of the Germans.

    3. Great point, Hillary! I think if everyone were less selfish and everyone spent time trying to do something for others, that we would all be better off for it. It's remarkable to me the amount of change Rick went through in the sequence of the film. He went from being completely preoccupied and selfish to actually caring about someone other than himself and displaying passion for something other than his own motives.

    4. Hillary –

      It is amazing how Rick's heart turned from one of selfishness to one of good moral character and looking out for others and not himself. It was a good movie on doing what is right even though you it is not what one wants to do. A good lesson for all of us to live by your morals.

      1. As I mentioned in a different post, Rick selfishness was his way of protecting his heart. After Ilsa broke it by not showing up in Paris, he adopted this heartless sense of being, not realizing there's always another side to every story.

    5. Rick, Ilsa and Victor's lives are so similar to other people lives that I associate with in my life today. Most people have the wrong perception about life and things which causes us to misjudge one another. That is what happen wiith the characters of Casablanca, people misjudge the true character of Rick but in the end the harsh exterior that he carried around for so many years slowly shedding away and he let his vunerable side show when Ilsa came back into his life.

  33. I know the main characters were Rick and Ilsa. Rick allowed disappointment and heartbreak to harden his heart. I have interacted with people that like, Rck think keeping everyone at an emotional distance will protect them from future heartbreak. Ilsa fell for Rick when she thought her husband, Lazlow had been killed, I think on some level it was an attempt by her to forget her heartbreak of losing her husband and hero. I couldn't help imposing my worldview on the charaters of the movie. I was drawn to the untold story of Sam, the character and the actor that played him. in 1943, a black man having to call, everyone, Boss, Ma'am or sir had to have been difficult. However, considering the racial tone of that era, I was surprised at the major role he had and that the character was not a bufoon. I liked when the bar owner of the Blue Parakeet offered to buy Sam, and Rick siad I don't traffic human beings.

    1. Kim
      I've known people like that. Very hard to get close to, because of their past. It was very hard to get them to trust you.

  34. What caught my interest was the character that Rick portrayed. Initially he came across on the screen as a playboy with little care in the world except for his own selfish need. As we learn more about the character, we realize that he is actually a complex man. Mentioned in the movie that he often championed the underdogs, we begin to learn this man is a good guy. What I learned about the Rick is that he has each of the four levels of the world views but they may not be obvious. At the end when he was willing to let go of his love for a greater purpose, his moral character is clearly painted.

    1. I think it's kind of fascinating how forgiving we are as viewers. The entire first half of the film portrayed Rick as selfish, rude and not willing to care about anyone other than himself. But, as soon as he started to turn "soft", we tend to forget about the way he was. Maybe he was hiding his true moral character all along or maybe he didn't have any until the passion of love ignited it??

      1. I agree with you, most movies, Casablanca included, ask the viewer to belive that people change in an instant. When in fact, this is due to the fact that the movie must tell its story in a short period of time, and the measurement of time is very much lost in most movies.

    2. Mao –

      I agree with you Mao that he difinitely had a story to tell. He had morals that came out at the end of the movie by letting go of his love for Ilsa and sending her off with her husband which was the right thing to do.

    3. Mao, I also saw Rick as a playboy type of guy at the beginning, but as the movie progressed, I learned so much more about Rick. Even though he protrayed himself to be selfish and only for self, but in the end God opened his eyes to reality and made him take a look at his moral beliefs. Which in turn he gave his ticket to Victor because that was the right thing to do morally.

  35. First of all I want to say that I really enjoyed watching this movie. I was amazed to see all the changes that Rich went through to be the person he was at the end of the movie.At first, he seemed tough, liked to mind his own business and very neutral about politics…etc but he changed into a different person once IIsa entered the picture. I am not familiar with the four level of world views , but I learned from the movie that we go through life experiences that are sometimes good, sometimes bad. In the end, it is really up to us to chose the type of person we want to be.

    1. I would like to challenge your thinking on this one and propose that it's not just up to us to chose the type of person we will be. I think some of life sort of happens to us and while we choose how to react, we don't necessarily choose what happens to us. Just a thought – playing devil's advocate just for fun. 🙂

    2. I like how you said that we go through good experiences and bad experiences and we choose the type of person we want to be. That is so true! We may be influenced by outward things, but we decide if they are going to make us hard and callous or if we are going to let them make us stronger and remain good.

  36. The story took place during WWII at a time when worldviews were clashing with life stories. There were those that supported the Nazi's and those that secretly worked against the regime. In the beginning Rick was cynical and uninvolved until he and the love of his life, paths crossed in Casablanca. As he learned the truth of why Ilsa did not meet him at the train station, his story began to change. In the end Ricks moral core began to lead him to make the right decision and he helped Ilsa and Victor escape so that they could continue their resistance against the Nazi's. He used good moral judgement, and let Ilsa know that her place was with Victor and let Victor know that what ever happened it was circumstances and not meant to be. Renault, a top French officier in Casablanca in the end covered up that Rick had allowed them to escape and had shot the German officer.

    1. I wonder what it was that Rick had done in his past other than some arms dealings that were mentioned. It did not seem very difficult for him when he smoked that Nazi maybe it wasnt the first time.

      1. That is the one aspect of movies that I dislike over books, the lack of back story. In a lot of books that would have been fleshed out a bit and that allows you to relate to the character much more.

    2. I agree that in times of great turmoil, for example, war, we may see our worldview put to the test. It's easy to say what you will do when faced with a dilemma, but until we are forced to make a decision, we may not really know. Do the decisions we make on a daily basis give us the courage, fortitude we would need? I pray that they do.

    3. Deb
      Your comments are right on. Rick's morals steped in and he was able to make good decesions about every one involved.

  37. I really did not know the four levels of worldview until now. It was interesting to read and study the four views. I see Rick from Casablanca as making the right choice at the end of the movie by letting IIsa leave with Victor (her husband). That was the moral thing to do. I see that as Level I as a moral/decisional worldview. Rick had a choice to make. He could have had an ongoing romantic affair with Ilsa but let her leave on the airplane with Victor. I became a Christian had a young age and I would say for the most part I have led a “moral” life due to my relationship with God. I believe our culture defines who we are and who we become. We all have freedom of choice and if we choose to make poor choices, we will pay consequences.

    1. Linda,
      I too believe my moral responsibilities come from being a Christian at a young age. It becomes difficult at times when we are faced with this type of a situation. I believe our faith brings us to the "right" decision.

    2. Like we learned from our last class all choices have consequences both good and bad. Not only does culture influence our decisions but unexpected life events.

  38. Rick was selfish at the start of the movie because he had been hurt. He pulled himself away from anyone else that could hurt him. When Ilsa came back into the picture, he felt the hurt all over again but he realized how much she was willing to sacrifice for Victor. It did change him as a person and helped him to open up and realize the right thing to do. Many times throughout my life I have had to sacrifice my happiness for someone elses needs. There needs to be a balance between what your needs are and what you are willing to sacrifice. Too many times I find myself giving to others and not thinking about my own needs.

    1. I thought you were very honest with your post. I had to reflect on a time in my life when I did that as well, gave to others before myself. But I soon realized in my experience that I wasn't really helping anyone much less myself. Now I listen but only encourage and that seems to make more of a difference. Have you ofound the same?

    2. perhaps, Rick felt the same way, thats why he developed the saying "I put my neck out for no one." I think part of creating a healthy balance is self care. I am trying to give myself permission to say, "no"

    3. Shawna,
      I agree with you completely. It can be hard sometimes to give up what we want so that others can be happy, but after you do and you get to see the results of that sacrifice it makes it all worthwhile. Wouldn't it be such a great place if more people realized this and were willing to help?

      1. Some times it is difficult to make sacrifices in order to help others but it is such a rewarding feeling. God recognizes our sacrifices and in most cases abundently blessess those that help others.

    4. Shawna,

      I agree that there is a balance that is needed in our lives between making sacrifices and not cheating ourselves. If we do that too much, we end up bitter and unhappy.

      Colleen Lasher

    5. You make a good point in the fact that putting others first is a good thing but we must not loose sight of our own needs. We need to take care of ourselfes so we can be in good conditions to care for others.

    6. Giving of one self is a noble and good way to be and it is good that you are aware of it. So often the ones that give, give to much at times and get overwelmed. Giving is part of having a good story.

  39. Rick put the interest of Victor Laszlo above his in order for Victor to accomplich his quest in life by allowing he and his wife Lisa to escape from Casablanca. Rick had to put aside his true feelings for Lisa and do what is right.The inpact it has on my life is that I find it fascinating to put others interest ahead of mine knowing how much it would benefit that person at a critical time.

    1. I agree with you on what an impact it has on one's life when you put other's interest in front of your own. Rick could have very well went the other way and had an ongoing relationship with Ilsa. Good moral choice on Rick's part.

    2. It is interesting that you use the word fascinating in your comment about making sacrifices for others. Hopefully the others make good use of your generousity.

  40. I enjoyed the movie, however, I did not find it life changing. Perhaps I have missed something? I understand the Four Levels of Worldview, that is also interesting and makes a lot of sense to me. I do not find that putting other people's needs before my own to be that noble, it is part of life. My needs are not any more important than that of others. Yes, it was wonderful that he ultimately let her go, but that was the right thing to do. Rick did develop along the way, that was apparent and I enjoyed watching the transformation, but I was not as blown away as some of my classmates, I look forward to Thursday to learn what I missed.

    1. It’s not just that Rick put others’ needs before his own. When the circumstances are factored in, Rick’s decision suddenly becomes extraordinary. First, Rick had set up a pattern, a set of rules, dictating that he put his own interests above everyone else’s. This was reinforced daily in the city. If he didn’t follow his rules, then someone would be ready to take advantage of him, at least until he achieved a position of strength.

      Second, Lazlo had the one thing that Rick really wanted: Ilsa. Lazlo had her love, respect and commitment. These are things that any man wants from a relationship. Most of all, Rick wanted them from Ilsa. Granted, she said that she was willing to leave Lazlo to be with Rick, but there would always be a question in Rick’s mind if she had done that completely voluntarily.

      Finally, Rick had the opportunity to leave Casablanca. Everyone in the city was looking to leave, and Rick had the ability. It would not have cost him anything.

      Finally, Lazlo represented what Rick was against: selfless giving to a cause that would never offer any return.

      Based on the worldview he had at the beginning of the movie, there was not one reason for Rick to help Lazlo. In the end, Rick not only helped Lazlo, he did so at the expense of all the security and prosperity that he had worked hard to accumulate. Rick burned just about every bridge behind him to make sure that Lazlo and Ilsa were safe, and that Lazlo’s work could continue.

      Casablanca isn’t necessarily a life-changing movie. It’s a movie of a life that was changed.

      1. Hi Tom,
        I understand your points, however, it was too much of a stretch for me. I find it highly unlikely that given the same set of circumstances, in the "real world" , that Rick would have made the same decisions.

        Rick was too jaded at that point in his life. The viewer was lead to believe that there was a long history of making questionable decisions to get him to where he was at Rick's. Can people change? Maybe…..but I believe if it was the real world, the imminent occupation of Germany, he would have taken the papers and left with Sam (loyalty) as soon as he had the papers and before Ugarte was killed. However, if that had been the script, the movie would be a classic for other reasons.

        I am not trying to be cynical, it was a good movie and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow night.

      2. Tom, I'm not so sure Lazlow had Ilsa's love, respect and commitment. She was willing to leave him at the drop of a hat if Rick said go. Rick wanted her until he found out she was married and the story behind it. I think Rick is far more noble of a person than Ilsa in this case. He wanted to do what was right for others, she just wanted to do what her passion wanted her to do. She was thinking selfishly with her heart, not her mind.

    2. I was not blown away either. I very much agree with you on the part about putting other's needs before your own not being noble. You, as well as I, as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, do this on a daily basis. But why do we do this? What makes us feel that this is what we should do? Especially since there are many people that don't put other's needs before their own. Something in our lives has shown us, taught us, that this is what is right. This must be part of our "worldview." That's how I look at it.

      1. I've been asking myself the same question lately, why do we (I) do this? My grandmother passed away last week and I traveled back to Texas for the funeral. It was an opportunity to celebrate her life and the stories that were shared really brought back memories for me. I was humbled thinking about how many people's lives she influenced just within our family, not to mention her other friends or acquaintances. The timing of this, along with the reading for this class, have led me to think more about who I am and why I'm the way I am. It's not easy, but it is amazing to remember all of the people that have influenced me (without realizing it in many cases) and recognize a part of them in me. I feel kind of like a patchwork quilt. 🙂

        1. Earnie, Wow! Talk about a significant time in your life to take this course. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, but I rejoice with you in the life of your grandmother. I think that we Americans think far too little of the legacy we are leaving those who come after us by living a dynamic life story. It sure sounds like your Grandmother gifted your entire family with a life well lived!

    3. Jeannie,

      I have to admire your response and look forward to hearing more from you in class. Your honesty is great. I agree that I didn't find it life changing, but I wonder if at the time this film aired it had more of an impact. It was a little to "hollywood" for me. War was much messier than that.

    4. I did not think that the "Rick" we saw at the beginning of the movie was really Rick. He was a symbol/extension of the selfish, narcissistic behavior that was the city of Casablanca. In my opinion, he did not change at the end of the movie as much as he became himself again. I thought Laszlo represented who Rick used to be and who he would later become. That is part of the reason Ilsa struggled to choose between them.

      1. Good point, i also thought that rick didn't as much change as a person, but change back into the person he once was. I think the character showed that while it is human to allow emotions to dictate your life at times, as in the case of rick, his morals were the deciding factor in the way he chose to live his life.

    5. Hi Jeannie, I understand your point of view. There are other movies where the transformation is drastic and life changing. In Casablanca's case, the story is more of a love story. May be the movie had a greater impact during the time when it was made but I have seen similar love stories where the hero sacrifices for his/her love.

    6. I didn't find Casablanca "life changing either". I think Rick was dealing with emotions just like the rest of us, only played out in a good story. I somewhat disagree though about doing the right thing always coming naturally. I think when emotions are running high, it's not always easy to think of others first. Hope it doesn't sound selfish — just being honest.

      1. i agree Belinda, doing the right this doesn't always come natural, especially when your emotions are running high. Look at it today, i don't know if i could have let her go for a greater good, i think it would be a hard decision for anyone to make a decision between, being with the one you love and letting her go regardless of morals.

    7. Jeannie I completely agree with you. Call me crazy but I was morality was always an expectation for me growing up. I cant imagine why Rick would do anything different. What kind of life would he lead having done what he had done to Lazio. I believe he always had it in him, he just wasn't in the proper environment to demonstrate his vulnerability.

    8. Jeannie:

      I agree with you. I was not blown away by this movie either. I thought it was a cheesy, early Hollywood predictable film. But, perhaps I missed something as well?

      -Melissa

  41. What I learned about the four levels of worldview in Casablanca and their impact on my life is how our unexamined presupposition affects our decision every day without us really thinking about it. There are tons of decisions that I have made without really thinking about them. Our moral, our culture defines every decision that I make and every actions that I take. I never once thought to reflect as to why I tend to make those decisions. Many times my experience definitely plays a role of how I look at life and helps guide my decisions. In Casablanca, where Rick got hurt through Ilsa not coming with him to Casablanca, he turns away from being an activist to only concerning about having a merry life and not fighting for causes that he feel are no longer worthwhile. There are times that my culture, my background pushes me to make certain decision on pertaining to certain issue. I can see that there are times, my decisions are based on culture and others are based on my personal experiences.

    I have seen many people where they take the road that Rick takes in regards to living a life of betrayal. He wants nothing to do with drinking with his customers and friends, due to his betrayal. I have gone through an experience similar in my life where my fiancé left me for no real reason. I could have taken the same route Rick did but I choose not to. It took time for me to heal but once that was over, I allow myself to meet new people again and treat them with the same trust and belief that they will show me and not based my decisions on that past experiences.

    1. It takes a big person to move ahead in life after such a significant disappointment. Good for you.

  42. As for me I feel lke 'Rick' with my past life…..I was hard cold, even cocky! I know what your saying, "no not you"; well yes i was like that! As I see as in ministry you have to listen not only listen but to hear people listening and then make a descision.
    This is what Rick finnally did..he listened!

    1. Well said – Listening plays a huge part in communication but unfortunately, this is the area where we often don't do so well. Rick in the movie finally listened to IIsa and that gave him the strenght he much needed to make the decision to let her go.

    2. Andre,

      Many people are still like your description of Rick, but many are finding their way through prayer and the strength of their faith. It is like an old saying that I heard many years ago which can relate to Rick "sometimes the best decisions are not the easiest". Rick set aside his own selfish needs for instant gratification and realize the good that Victor was doing. The world would be a better place if there were many more people like Rick in this world.

    3. I know exactly what you are talking about Dre. I have a t-shirt that totally sums me up. It says: I'm not the man I ought to be, but thank God I'm not the man I used to be. Thanks for being honest.

    4. I think many people can relate to your personal experience as we all have been "Rick" one time or another. Listening is a lot harder than it seems , but I'm glad that God has been able to work in you.

  43. The insight I gained about worldview from viewing "Casablanca" and reading the article, "Casablanca and Four Levels of Worldview" was mostly new to me. I was particularly challenged by the thought of "gliding through thousands of preconditioned responses…", as I think that is often my way of doing life. On another note, I also appreciated seeing that we can "change our story" by conscious planning and decisions to change. This was evident in the character, Rick, in Casablanca. Though he wrestled with his emotions, his relationships, and his views of life–ultimately, he chose to do the right (and more difficult) thing by helping Ilse and Victor to leave.
    Seeing the weaving of his story and changes in his attitude, and actions certainly was encouraging to me as I contemplate changes which need to be made in my life. Rick modeled transformation of heart, which ultimately was for the good of others. I appreciated the challenge to examine my views, attitudes, and actions, with the insight gained from thinking through Four Levels of Worldview, and anticipate this to be an ongoing process of transformation.

    1. "Rick modeled transformation of heart" I love that phrase. That is even truer than you know. Well said!

    2. I agree, it was an amazing transformation in Rick. Its surprising to see how people can really change you and affect you. I wonder, after reading through the four level of worldviews and reflecting to question, what it would have been if Rick had never allow the emotions of failure, guilt, or even betrayal to have such an impact on his life, what could have been?

    3. It is wonderful to know that we can change, we do not have to go through life bitter, disillusioned and cold. We can change. No matter what has happened to us, we can change that heartache into something good. It's not always about us.

  44. The worldview I learned about in Gary's article and the film Casablanca taught me a great deal. I did not understand what worldview really meant. I thought of this word as a political word that had nothing to do with the reality I live everyday. I am blessed not to have to worry about the corruptness of our leaders when it comes to my families survival on a daily basis compared to the corrupt way of the German dictatorship and the people of France and other countries affected.
    I own this movie and have enjoyed the film since I was young at heart as a love story and nothing else Today my perspective is so much wider and deeper I feel ashamed I had not thought of some of the things shown to me today and in this program at Bethel.
    The events in my life that are innate and the projected influence from my family, friends and society have scripted more in my life than I would have liked. I noticed during this journey that the decisions I made reflecting those events have been self centered but realize I was unaware what I was doing and if I had to make those same decisions today, the outcome would be completely different.
    Rick scripted his past into a life for him to survive, not only physically but emotionally. The wall he built was suppose to protect him from feeling close and trusting again. He was surprised that the mere sight of the one responsible for creating the wall would tear it down so easily.
    When he learned of the visa's and the two in need of them his mind told him to take the girl and run, because Victor would be captured any how and he did not care about the cause, so he thought. After many encounters from people who needed him and the witnessing of the oppression on people who just wanted to be free changed his view and his mind to listen to his heart.

    1. Amy, FANTASTIC insight" "Rick scripted his past into a life for him to survive, not only physically but emotionally." That is EXACTLY why we construct our worldview… to protect ourselves… to try to manage and/or control the heartache in out life. Well said!

      1. I had the opportunity to see Steve Scott perform in 1990. At the end of his short set, he paused and advised the audience to be “honest with yourself, with everyone around you and with God.” The act of re-evaluating my worldview starts at the first step: being honest with myself. If I don’t start there, then true change is impossible.

        By “scripting” our worldview, we do the opposite; we lie to ourselves, and lock ourselves into a prison to suffer the consequences. A worldview is composed of thousands of small beliefs and values. Each one is either bowed in allegiance to the King of the universe, acknowledging that He speaks truth, or it has been constructed by a lie, and is in open rebellion. The lies come from either a sense of self-preservation, from the enemy or our own pride and arrogance. As a believer, it’s my daily job to examine what I believe, in a given situation, and hold it up to the light of scripture.

        If I let the lies take over my worldview, then I start to “script” my own reality. I doubt others’ motives instead of my own. The wrongs done to me overshadow what I have done to others. My sins become explainable, even reasonable. As time goes by, I will find myself in a story of my own choosing, not God’s. And, as Jay Sherman would say, “It stinks.”

        Above everything else, guard your heart.
        It is where your life comes from.
        Proverbs 4:23 (NIRV)

    2. Nate,

      How interesting that you focus on "morals" as foundational for the decisions we make. Certainly, morals are influential in our worldview and how we live. I appreciated your perspective and views about the movie as well as your personal application. Thanks for the great post!

    3. Amy,

      Thank you for sharing your depth of insight about yourself and about the key figure in Casablanca–Rick. I appreciated your views about changed actions and thoughts, which could/would lead to "different outcomes". How true this was in the movie scenario, and how true it can be in our personal lives. Great post–thanks for your vulnerability and candidness!

    4. Amy, this is great. I also did not know or even understand what the word Worldview meant I even went and looked the word up but, still did not get it until I spoke to another class member that help me understand what it meant. To be honest I still felt that this word did not mean anything to me until now that I have to read about it and work with it. Now, I am opening my mind up to know what it mean and understand what my own Worldview is.

    5. I love the honesty and the transparentness you have Amy. I am truely blessed to know you and be in your cohort.

  45. Good afternoon Jessica,
    I too never thought much about my Worldview, let alone know what it was and how it impacted my life and those around me. Who says knowledge is not important?
    I totally agree with you that our examination of worldview will be enlightening and may be a never ending process while living on this world planet in our current period of time.
    Thank God for helping all of us to change. Come Lord Jesus.
    Thanks for writing, Jessica.
    In Christ, Bob R.

  46. While watching Casablanca and reading Four Levels of Worldview I have found that I am ready and interested in taking a look at what has shaped my worldview thus far. The "map" of my life, I have feel, was plotted when I was young and I haven't given it much thought in the thirty some years I have been following it. I have always felt that the decisions I make are based on my desire to do what is "right" without really understanding where I got my idea of "right." In light of recent events in my own life I feel my worldview beginning to shift, so embarking on this journey of examination of that worldview I'm sure will prove to be enlightening.

    1. Hello, Jessica. I am so glad to see that someone has the same thoughts that I have on the word Worldview. This is a word I never thought about until now and to be honest I'm not even sure if I even heard of the word until now.

    2. I concur with you how easy it is for us to go on with life and not really linking our decisions to why. I haven't really thought to consider why some of my decision are based on my background and culture while others are from my experiences living here in the U.S. There are decisions I make that someone from my culture my question to as why I made them but it's really because of my experiences in growing up in the US.

    3. Hi Jessica, I find myself in a similar position. Different events in my life have prompted me to re-evaluate my worldview. I moved to the United States when I was fifteen years old and since that day, I embarked in a new quest. Some of the core values and beliefs that were instilled in me since I was a child have been re-evaluated and reshaped. In the end, I feel that this makes me a better individual. More aware of the world that surrounds me.

    4. I am definitely interested in reassessing my life map. I'm not sure I remember what I plotted way back when, but I think I am in need of some "recalculating." Overall, I too think I have generally had the desire to make moral decisions and done what was "right" based upon my upbringing, family, friends, and life experiences without fumbling too badly. I'm curious to see where it all goes from here.

    5. Thanks for posting this Jessica. I guess I never thought about where my beliefs originated from so maybe I will be taking a journey of my own. Good luck with yours.

  47. Good evening, having never watched Casablanca I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie. As far as how the movie impacted my worldview that is difficult to say. The time and setting of the film provided many incidents that prompted the change in Rick. He was noble and highly admirable at the end of the movie. Sacrificing for the greater good is something as a Mom I do on a daily basis. My new clothes are always the last to be purchased as the welfare of my kids is always first. The last two of my classes reviewed and discussed many global topics so in turn these factor into decisions that I make for my kids with their classes and discussions around the dinner table. So as Bob stated above I make many decisions throughout the day but usually with a purpose when it involves my family and my work.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it? And I agree. A good mother is the most sacrificial creature on the planet!

    2. Hello Jennifer,

      I too, had never watched Casablanca. What a great movie. I watched it several times.

      I hear what you have to say about what it takes to be a Mom and recognize the self sacrifice you make on a daily basis. Thank you and I give you my encouragement to continue on with your journey serving the Lord.

      I like the point you make that our Worldview impacts families and community, not just individuals.

      I get the understanding that these concepts of Worldview and Life Story are well worth the time it takes to study them.

      Your post got me thinking about Mothers and why us men need to treat Moms with love and tenderness.

      Thank you for writing.

      In Christ, Bob R.

    3. Jennifer,
      As a mother myself the sacrifices we make are ones we do not even think about at the moment. The decisions we make everyday are suppose to reflect Christ and the needs of our family hopefully affecting our neighbor. It is hard to think outside the box of our family and sometimes our family gets caught up in society; that is when we call for a family Bible study and our decisions seem to change based upon what God says.

    4. Jennifer,

      Many parents are self sacrificing. Is it the right thing to do? Is it a moral issue? Is it based upon our character? What defines a good parent and a bad parent? Some of these can questions can have a subjective answer but virtue is universal. Being kind and doing what is right is not subjective. You sound like an awesome Mom!

  48. I learned from both the movie Casablanca and the article Four Levels of worldview is that in the end all the decisions that you make are a result in the morals that you have. While there are instances were emotions might set you off course from your morals, like in the case of Rick in the beginning of the movie, in the end your morals it is the morals instilled by family, friends and culture that will ultimately decide which path in life you choose.

    1. Great insight. Emotions do play an important part in our lives, but can also knock us off the morals we want to be committed to.

    2. Hi Nate,

      In addition to the morals as influenced by our families, we really bring our personal experiences into how we make decisions. We have all made decisions in the past that were both good and really bad and hopefully we learned from those and how they not only impacted us, but others around us.

    3. Hello Nate,__I agree with you in Rick's case. Ilsa's influence, her confession to Rick that she loved him, had a profound impact on his decision to get her out of Casablanca. Your post tells me it is crucial to have a famliy, friends, and culture that love, support, and guide you in the right direction. I thank the Lord my"Worldview" includes the culture of God's Kindom.__Your post helps keep me on course. Thanks for writing Nate.__In Christ, Bob R.

    4. Nate,
      Yes our emotions are very strong. The course can be tricky without the constant reminder of Christ and what He did for us. Rick does not speak of God, but Elsa does. You can tell he is a sentimentalist from the beginning. We are very lucky to have a free country and a powerful, loving God.

    5. I agree Nate. Emotions are definitely hard to ignore when it comes to making decisions. In light of recent events in my own life I have found that the morals we make decisions based on are so different from person to person. Even people you thought were raised the same and had the same morals make decisions that you feel are wrong. The only way that I can make sense of some of those decisions is that some people have a harder time keeping on course despite their emotions.

      1. I agree Jess, trying to keep your emotions from running your life is one of the hardest things to do and is something that everyone has had to struggle with at some point or another.

    6. I agree with what you say in regards to your moral. However, I have seen people who feel they have been hurt so much that they become the oppressor to someone else as well. I have seen people who fled through persecution and then said I made it through all by myself, why do everyone else feel they need a handout. The hope is that the values and morals that have been instill on you are strong enough to help pull you through those rough situations. I agree with you, this is just something to think through.

    7. I believe that character may not be obvious but actions speak volumes. In people's quiet ways, their actions can impact the weight of the world to the people that it effects.

    8. Yep, emotions can definitely set you off into a tailspin. But I think you're right. Once everything calms down, most people are right back to the person they were before — just with more experience.

    9. Interesting post Nate. It made me think of the people I know that are lead solely by their emotions and little else. Being around someone like that can be exhausting for me… I just want to grab their hand and say" " Hey, you do not have to be tossed to and fro by your own silly thoughts that lead no where constructive." But this shows how analytical I can be at times and not exactly compassionate, huh? 🙂

    10. Someone once told me that I needed to stop making decisions off my emotions. I think your response is one that I finally identified with to separate moral decisions and emotional decisions.

      1. Excellent! Separating moral decisions from emotional decisions is exactly what Casablanca is about!

  49. Four Levels of Worldview in Casablanca: Impact on my life.__Gary: I enjoyed reading your intriguing article, Casablanca and the Four Levels of Worldview: Why Everyone Meets at Rick’s. Doing so made me realize how important the relationship is between worldview and making decisions. It unnerved me to learn that so many of the decisions I make, some being more important than others, may be made throughout the day without any conscious awareness of why I make them. I wonder then, what kind of impact I am having on other people, let alone myself. I now accept the responsibility of building a biblically based world view on God’s truth gained from having a sound relationship with Jesus Christ. As I rest in Christ, I pray that my worldview will be constantly transformed, creating decisions in accordance with God’s larger-than-life will.__-Bob R. ___

    1. Wow! You got all that from one post and a movie? That's awesome! It is a little unnerving isn't it?

    2. Bob,
      I couldn't agree with you more. Society takes us so far from God's truth and way that if we are not in constant prayer and Scripture reading I find the enemy tries to creep in. Worldview hits home closer than I thought, I am glad to realize this today as to prepare the future generation.

    3. Bob, Your insight about the Worldview in Casablanca, and your comments of personal reflection were touching. I appreciated the focus on "transformation" in your last sentence–as it seems we are all on a journey toward transformation as we follow Christ each day. This, over time, will hopefully bring our Worldviews more in line with God's truth, as we actively engage in life.
      Thank you for your wise words–and may God guide and bless your thoughtful decisions!

    4. Bob, this is deep I like it never thought about it in this way. Building a biblically based worldview is something I am going to look into to guide my own life. Thank you this post it's great!!!

  50. Tom, Wow! Excellent insight! I agree. I don't think anyone's worldview changes easily, nor by "choice." Instead, something in their life creates environment where change is possible. It can be something that "happens to them," like what happened to Rick. However, it can also be change they initiate, like your decision to keep asking yourself the question, "If I truly believe what God says about this situation, then what will I do?" Eventually that practice itself will change you. -Gary

    1. Exactly, it is our personal experiences which influence decision making and "world view".
      I look forward to this class on Thursday. Interesting forum.

  51. While observing the transformation of Rick Blaine, it struck me that worldview change comes only from necessity. People can be restless, and will change things that are more or less superficial. We decide to try a new career, hobby or perhaps even different experiences in the hopes of perspective expansion. However, human beings don't change their worldview unless events demand change. In Rick's case, he saw that there were unstoppable forces at work in Casablanca that were not going to allow him to remain as he was (withdrawn, cynical and purely self-interested). He was trapped between his love for Ilsa, and the growing presence of the Nazi Germans, and neither would allow Rick to not be involved.

    In my own life, events have occurred which demanded that I review my central beliefs: what my actions showed that I thought to be true, not necessarily what I stated was true. This re-evaluation happens regularly, sometimes daily. It's one of the ways that God refines and conforms us to His image, if we are open to His work. As I grow in Christ, I am continually going back to scripture, then asking myself, "If I truly believe what God says about this situation, then what will I do?" Through this process, I pray that the forces needed to move me to action will become decrease.

    "How can you say that you're not responsible?
    What does it have to do with me?
    What is my reaction, what should it be?
    Confronted by this latest atrocity
    Driven to tears…"
    – Driven to Tears by The Police

    1. I like your analogy Tom, I agree with your point that worldview change comes only from necessity. Remarkable circumstances draw out some incredible results from people. An incident or event usually is the catalyst to change.

      1. I think you hit a key point, Jennifer. The worldview change only needs a catalyst; often, the person who experiences the change knows in advance that something is wrong. They may not be able to articulate it clearly, but the need for change is known.

        An example that I can identify with is Drew Carey. He struggled with his weight, and used that to fuel a successful comedy career. If he didn't think his weight was an issue, then he would not have even mentioned it. However, when he found that he could no longer fit in clothes sold off-the-rack, that was the inciting incident for him to make a lifestyle change. It took an external force for him to make the necessary changes.

        In Casablanca, Rick had set up defenses to protect himself from the pain of losing Ilsa in Paris. Rick positioned himself as owner and manager of an establishment where he could isolate himself. He gave Sam strict orders not to play "As Time Goes By.” If Rick could have been honest with others and with himself, he would admit that he was grieving the loss of relationship with her. Yet, when there were several inciting incidents, only then was he able to make the necessary changes to his story.

    2. Good post Tom. Very interesting ending too… that you pray "that the forces needed to move [you] will… decrease."

      This leads me to wonder about our nature and if we are able to acheive a certain 'level' so to speak of spiritual and intellectual maturity in which we are able to change without God prompting us in a dramatic fashion. Which in turn leads me to ponder Job and all the dramatic ways that God allowed events into his life and the purpose of those events and the millions of ways God used it to teach not only Job, his buddies and the Devil but also the world over, about patience, character, and dozens of other lessons beyond me.

    3. Tom,

      Great post! I really appreciated your reflective and personal insight. Your portrayal of the character of Rick was helpful–and it was easy to see the conflicts he must have experienced in his situation. I appreciated your comment …"events have occurred which demanded that I review my central beliefs…", because it seems we all can struggle with the reality and truth of our beliefs and how we respond to situations in our lives. I liked the reminder to look to scripture–and then take action. Thanks for your candid comments!

    4. Tom,

      Very well written! I posted my response to the movie very late and I did not review yours or anyone elses. You did a very detailed explaination I of alot of my thoughts.

      Jerry

    5. Hey Tom,

      Good post! I agree. I think some of us have the capacity to reflect on our worldview without outside prompting or interference, but more likely, there is some event or action that leads a person to change their worldview.

  52. Another way to approach the multiple levels of a character's worldview is to understand the moral virtue and vice that motivates the character. I have yet to do a formal analysis of Casablanca but from what I remember from multiple screenings the values in the film that each character confronts are selfishness v. selflessness; or put another way perhaps more in keeping with Casablanca's themes: self-preservation v. preservation of others. All successful films are really about a single set of values and the natural consequences of choosing the virtue or the vice in the lives of each of the main characters. Those same values can be layered however in the various aspects of a character's life, not unlike what Gary explains above w.r.t. worldviews. For instance, Rick's life is a composite of layers–personal, family, professional, and political, and in each layer or sub-storyline, Rich has a goal that becomes a moral motivation. Personally: Rick wants to be shown respect; Romantically: he wants to be loved; Professionally: to be paid; and Politically: to be neutral. In the first half of the film Rick's value of self-preservation in those four character sub-plots drive him toward tragedy. But during the second half of the film, after he realizes the error of his ways, he moves toward a resolution that requires him to embrace the opposite value: the preservation of others, or selflessness. This is a transformational arc that Rick follows, and because it rings true for the audience on all those different layers or story levels, the film sticks with us. All of this is explained in my book The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice for Box Office Success (http://www.moralpremise.com)

    1. Stan,

      Thank you for your insight on this. I absolutely love your book. Thank you again for sending me a copy. Your concept of moral premise has been extremely helpful in my connecting ethical decisions to film narratives. Your comment here, "All successful films are really about a single set of values and the natural consequences of choosing the virtue or the vice in the lives of each of the main characters," is a great encapsulation.

      I actually have you referenced in a series of posts I am doing next week on worldview in It's a Wonderful Life. I'd love to send it to you in advance if you'd be willing to read it and jump in early with a comment. Key Payton and Jim Hull have been helping me try to make this material more helpful to filmmakers. I would covet your help on this as well if you have the time.

      Hope all is well for you and yours this Advent,

      Gary

  53. Oops, Jim! I re-looked at my Dramatica Dictionary, you are so right, and I'm glad you "caught me" on that missed distinction! Your clarification exactly demonstrates the kind of rigorous precision that makes the Dramatica Theory so one-of-a-kind among story paradigms.

    As to worldviews, Gary, I hope all this is helping flesh out how often humans have both conscious and un/subconscious worldviews; e.g., how Scout in *To Kill a Mockingbird* can so support her father Atticus's fight against an anti-black racist, even while nurturing all sorts of her own anti-weirdo prejudices against her odd neighbor, Boo Radley.

    As Jim has pointed out, good stories force their main characters (and we hope those in the audience as well) to pull up and try to examine their closely held un/subconscious worldviews — that inner "je ne sais quoi" that *might* be contributing to their difficulty in solving the Story Problem.

    Of course in most good stories this is typically not a clinically detached analysis; most often, instead, this "examination of my own worldviews" happens in a character's desperate, last-ditch effort to figure out "what else could possibly be perpetuating this problem?!?!"

    Tommy Lee Jones's climactic process in *The Fugitive* (where he is the Change character, costarring with a Steadfast/starring main character) is among many great illustrations of this kind of sudden, cathartic realization of a flawed worldview.

    Key

  54. @Key

    As someone who has a deep passion for design and information architecture I appreciate your kind words about my site. Glad to see someone has found value in it!

    Just a quick little slight correction to the concept of the Main Character's Approach. Most Main Character's are unaware of the justifications that drive them — that's the purpose of story, to unravel them and present them with the option of carrying on or adopt a new one. So it's not so much that a Do-er sees the problem coming from outside or a Be-er sees the problem as relating to their attitudes. It's more that their justifications are leading them to approach problems either externally or internally.

    Both Rick in *Casablanca* and William Munny in *Unforgiven* have taken to drinking as a way of coping with their own problems. Neither is really aware that their problem requires them to change themselves (Be-er), it's just that their own blind spots have developed this preference for a particular coping mechanism.

    It's a subtle difference but an important one. Your explanation of how stories often challenge a Do-er to Be more and a Be-er to do more though is absolutely correct. In both *Casablanca* and *Unforgiven*, the Main Character is driven to take action — one for the better, the other for the worse.

    @Gary

    Thanks for giving me an opportunity to elaborate on some of these ideas. If you find anything worth linking to on my site, by all means do – I could always use the traffic!

  55. Just an addendum to my note that "neither the [Do-er or Be-er] Approach to problems is ALWAYS correct… some stories will challenge a Do-er to practice some Be-er Approach styles, while other stories will challenge a Be-er to practice some Do-er Approach styles."

    A universally frequent acknowledgment of this truth is the "Serenity Prayer" credited to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and adopted widely by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. It says:

    "God, grant me the

    Serenity to accept the things I cannot change (a Be-er Approach);

    Courage to change the things I can (a Do-er Approach); and

    Wisdom to know the difference" (a balance between these two Approaches, often forged via a story that pulls the starring and costarring characters between the two extreme poles of these approaches until they find a middle ground).

  56. My ears are burning!

    While I never thought of Maximus living for eternity, it certainly works in describing him as the classic Steadfast Main Character. When determining the Resolve of the central character within a complete story all that matters is comparing where they ended up at the end of the piece with where they began. If they maintained the same worldview they began with, then regardless of any backtracking, they are thought to be Steadfast in their Resolve. Your description of him starting out for eternity, wavering, then finally realigning for eternity is a great example of this steadfastness.

    As far as Tony Stark goes (first Iron Man), those first 30-45 minutes in the cave are Backstory and not part of the actual story itself. Part of the purpose of Backstory is to describe how the Main Character developed the justifications that end up motivating them throughout a story. His experiences within that cave created the drive within him to be the classic superhero Steadfast Main Character for the remainder of the film. Instead, it is his friend Rhodey (Terrence Howard) who has the significant Change of character, exemplified by his hanging up the phone during the climax. With this act he became an accomplice of Tony's, sharing his worldview on how to best approach fighting the bad guys.

    Most of the time films make reference to the Backstory (flashbacks, dialogue, etc.) but don't actually portray it on-screen. Because the first Iron Man was an origin story, it only makes sense that his Backstory would become part of the action.

    1. Jim,

      Okay, I admit it. You're right. I had not thought of the back story element of Iron Man. Even better, I can see that you're right about Gladiator as well. I LOVE your take on this. It IS a great example of a steadfast character who transforms the people around him.

      I think you've pointed out a blind spot in my approach. In using film to teach worldview I've gravitated toward films that emphasize dramatic worldview changes. This is rather ironic, in that (as Key pointed out) the Main Characters in many of my personal favorite films (above) are Steadfast.

      Thanks providing some much-needed expertise! (You too, Key). It is the exact kind of conversation I had hoped to evoke in this blog.

      Please jump in again… and again.

      I obviously need the education!

      Gary

      PS Care to do a guest post to help drive people to your site some time?

      1. Gary and Jim:

        Thanks for bringing me into the discussion! Jim, as a script consultant and long-time Dramatica advocate, I more and more frequently recommend that my screenwriting clients and friends visit your site and immerse themselves!

        While the Dramatica.com site continues to offer prose explanations of "Dramatica Theory" concepts, Jim, your photo- and video-illustrated explanations make the theory much more approachable and vivid. Thank you!

        To both of you, something else I think is very relevant to the whole "worldview" discussion: The Dramatica Theory's insistence on knowing whether your main character is instinctively a Doer or a Be-er.

        In story after story, this divide hugely determines where a problem-confronting main character will tend to look for solutions, and in which direction his or her worldview change (or growth) will likely need to go.

        Do-ers tend to see the story problem as coming from outside themselves (so they act outwardly against it), while Be-ers tend to see the story problem as probably, somehow, related to their own attitudes and approaches (so they seek ways to rethink things and adjust themselves).

        But neither Approach to problems is ALWAYS correct; thus some stories will challenge a Do-er to practice some Be-er Approach styles, while other stories will challenge a Be-er to practice some Do-er Approach styles.

        In both cases, these main characters are growing toward a more-balanced worldview, where they recognize that some problems lie outside us, but many lie within; and that while sometimes we need to take action to solve problems, there are unquestionably other times where the best solution is to do some serious introspection and alter our prior views.

        So Jim, I commend Gary to your "starter" article on "How Main Characters Approach Problems" —

        http://storyfanatic.com/articles/story-structure/

        — and I am trying to get through reading your other articles on The Main Character.

        Finally, this is just another example of how complexly variegated worldviews are, and how many different aspects of worldview have been (and I hope will continue to be) examined through screen stories!

        Key

  57. Gary:

    Among my "newer" favorites is "The Lives of Others" (2007), the film which one that year's German Oscars. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend.

    As to characters and their multiple "worldview levels," Jim Hull (storyfanatic.com) has posted a robust article on "What Character Arc Really Means."

    http://storyfanatic.com/articles/story-structure/

    Hull offers a penetrating analysis of how many different ways writers can actually blend in and defend their worldviews in stories, and why we should avoid thinking that every worthwhile movie has to have a gloriously happy ending and a massively transformed main character. (As evidence, your "best" list above still contains its fair share of "steadfast" main characters and tragic, semi-tragic, or bittersweet endings.)

    Hull's article focuses on this common myopia among screenwriters (Christian AND secular): That the only kind of meaningful change is that of having the main character UTTERLY transform his/her worldview by the end of the story.

    And yet many a successful-and-enduring film (including several on your "best" list) centers on a main character who "grows" or "deepens" in the worldview with which s/he originally began the story; s/he grows, but does not "transform/switch worldviews."

    (Yet, still, there is always SOME "worldview-changing" character in stories where the main character "remains steadfast," and it's almost always the primary co-starring character.)

    For both the above points, consider "The Fugitive", "Iron Man", "Gladiator", "Sense & Sensibility", "The Iron Giant", "Forrest Gump", "Amadeus", "The Silence of the Lambs", "Braveheart", "Saving Private Ryan", "Whale Rider", "Chinatown", "Star Trek" (2009), "Crimson Tide", "Moulin Rouge", "Field of Dreams", "Wall-E", "Being There", "Searching for Bobby Fischer", :Akeelah and the Bee", "Almost Famous", most of the James Bond films, and many more.

    In terms of screenwriting craft, it's crucial for us to have the full range of worldview-presenting tools in our boxes, and the "grow" or "transform" distinction should ALWAYS come early in our storyforming considerations.

    Keep comparing cinema, stories, and worldviews!

    1. Key,

      Well said. Thank you for introducing me to Hull's work (and website.) I like his emphasis on growing and deepening by overcoming. It certainly fits a lot of great films, and is a lot more common in life than worldview changes. If a protagonist is "a character who pursues a goal and is changed by the journey," then there are a lot of ways to make it work. Of course, it works if there is a strong moral premise, that is challenged by conflict, obstacle, and complications along the way.

      Forrest Gump seems to be a great example of what Hull preaches. Lt Dan and Jenny change dramatically, while Forest functions more like an antagonist creating their change. Forrest changes too, but in the "growing and deepening" sense Hull references.

      Thank you!

      Gary

      PS I probably would have left Maximus (Gladiator) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) off Hull's list. Like Rick in Casablanca, Maximus loses his story only to rediscover it. He starts the movie living for eternity, loses his soul living for revenge, and ends the movie living for eternity again. And I don't know about you, but I think Tony Stark is a fairly typical protagonist. His his hedonistic lifestyle never changes, but his "vocational" worldview changes dramatically. What do you think?

  58. A good film for similar evaluation would be my all-time favorite, TENDER MERCIES, starring Robert Duvall. His APOSTLE would be good as well. I use Tender Mercies as one of the films that can teach us about faith in my class<Faith Goes to the Movies.

    1. Paul,
      Tender Mercies is a gorgeous film. It's on my list of 41 classic films everyone should know. I never thought about the 4 levels in it, but you are absolutely right! How often do you teach your Faith Goes to the Movies class. It sounds great.
      Thanks for your help on this,
      Gary

Comments are closed.