Remember when I (briefly) quoted the Marseillaise when I was talking about my Berlin trip the other day?
That’s because two weeks ago in French, we did an obligatory learning/singing of the French National Anthem. Needless to say, it’s been stuck in my head ever since.
I remember when I was younger, my dad used to lament the fact that The Star Spangled Banner (try translating that one into French for your professor, by the way–ROUGH) didn’t sound cheery. “Like the Marseillaise.”
I must say, the Marseillaise definitely sounds cheery–peppy, patriotic, appropriately dramatic at times, catchy and sing-songy at others. But it turns out that it’s actually an incredibly bloody, gory, violent song. Let me share some brief translations:
“against us tyranny’s bloody standard is raised”
“they are coming into our midst to cut the throats of your sons and consorts”
“let impure blood water our furrows”
In any case, la Marseillaise playing on constant loop in my head for two weeks has got me thinking a lot about one of my favorite movies, and more specifically, one of my favorite scenes in that movie. One of the first indicators that I’d gotten over what were sometimes rough early days with la vie français was when I started feeling sad and defensive when faced with reminders of the Nazi occupation of Paris. (Not that that happens often…just when I was in a museum or taking notes in class or something.) So, the clip I’m about to share is just another reason to love Casablanca even more–I can now appreciate this scene with my new sense of on-loan patriotism.
It’s impossible to decide who I like most in this scene. Victor Lazlo for his unbreakable, earnest devotion to defeating the Nazis in every possible way? “Stick my neck out for no one” Rick who allows his loyal musicians to play the Marseillaise in a room full of Nazis, openly defying them? Ilsa, so evidently consumed by her inner struggle, but here so clearly full of admiration for Lazlo? Or Yvonne, who’s finally seen the light and proved her French patriotism? If I’m being honest I probably like Captain Renault the best, just because he’s there, and as any fellow Casablanca fans know, one of his many glory moments immediately follows this scene. “I’m shocked–shocked–to find that gambling’s going on in here!”
Okay, I’m getting carried away. I’s just so beeaaauuuttiiffulll. I could watch this movie over and over again. All day. Every day.
Vive la France, indeed.