Here is a piece recently published in The Atlantic looking at the film Casablanca and its enduring effect on viewers 70 years after its first release. The essence of the article is summed up by D.B. Grady when he notes that Casablanca “is a product of its time, yes, but it’s a great film because it is also a product of all times.” I recommend the article not only because Casablanca happens to be my favorite film, but also because Grady’s program is itself interesting – why is the film so highly regarded and seemingly universal in its appeal?

On this point, though, Grady gets the film exactly backwards. “One reason for the film’s enduring resonance,” he writes, “is its absence of a moral compass.” He then proceeds to describe the film’s setting and cast of flawed characters, but misses the very heart and soul of the film – sacrifice. If Casablanca continues to resonate with modern audiences, it is not because of the film’s moral ambiguity, but rather because it so accurately reflects the world’s uncertainty, brokenness, and selfishness, and yet still manages to find a strong moral compass. Casablanca is powerful precisely because it reminds us that – even when the entire world seems to be on the brink of destruction – love and virtue can call men to purposes higher than themselves, and hope can still be found in the shadow of sacrifice.