Saturday, October 4, 2014

World War II, Vichy, and Casablanca

In HIS/GOV 322, we have begun to study France in World War II, a complex and highly charged topic that has introduced us to the collaborationist Vichy regime established by Maréchal Philippe Pétain and the Free French forces led by Charles de Gaulle.  We learned that most administrators in the French colonies remained loyal to Vichy before the Allied invasion of November 1942.  This seemed the perfect opportunity to screen Casablanca, set in the French colony of Morocco.  In the film, Captain Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains, serves as the Vichy prefect of police in Casablanca.  Corrupt, cynical, and a self-serving opportunist, Renault collaborates with the Nazis before deciding to join, with Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine, the French resistance in Brazzaville.

After class and the film, we discussed history, film, travels, and food (good and bad) over dinner at a bistro in Montmartre.

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