Ah classic movies. When you were a kid did you loath when a black and white movie came on the television? Did you immediately change the channel and find something exploding on the screen? Did you have parents that tried to school you on classic cinema or did you find it on your own after you grew up? When is the right age to introduce children to classic movies? Here’s looking at you kid.
The timeless classic Casablanca. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman When should someone be introduced to it? The movie was released in 1942, and the overriding themes of loved lost and apathy still holds true today. Common sense media has an age rating of 10+ for Casablanca. I’ll put a link to their review in the description below. If we are just going off the violence, sex and other adult themes shown on screen then ten is still high for me. If we are going off kids being able to understand everything happening in the film then my thoughts on when someone should be introduced are higher.
There is no barrier for me as far as violence, language or alcohol use that would prevent me from letting my eleven year old watch this movie. I would even let my four year old watch Casablanca as far as adult content goes. I highly doubt the four year old would even make it through the opening credits though. I think my eleven year old can handle the content and the story, but his limited life experience could hinder his understanding and enjoyment.
I can explain to my son about when this movie was made. Explain that it was made a year after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Many Americans even at this time didn’t see the need for focusing on the war in Europe. A prevailing thought was we should focus on the war with Japan since they were the ones who attacked us. Some even still favored a policy of isolationism. Casablanca tried to drum up support for the war in Europe. It was even backed by the war department. They wanted a movie to help promote the evils of fascism, and the dangers of remaining indifferent. Which the movie does in a fantastic way that doesn’t beat you over the head with the message. Casablanca is a fantastic love story first with war support on the next level.
This is a lot of backstory to take in when trying to enjoy a movie. Then there is the actual plot of the film. Two German soldiers are killed, who are never shown on screen, and travel documents are stolen from them. These documents allow a person to freely travel to the United States, it’s actually more complicated than that, but will leave it at this. The person who steals the letters is found out and leaves the documents with Rick at his bar. Rick then has to decide to use the papers to get himself out of Casablanca with Ilsa or let her go with Victor Laszlo.
Laszlo is a Jew who has escaped from a concentration camp. He is an inspirational figure who the Nazi’s want to recapture and bring back to Germany. What’s interesting to think about is how little the world actually knew what the Nazi’s were up to at this time. We knew something was wrong with what was going on in Germany, but not to what extent. In real life Laszlo would have been transported back to Germany no questions asked. How does a younger kid understand all of the concepts and themes going on during this film? I’m not sure they can. Once someone has studied history, they then can begin to grasp the desperation during this time.
Then there is the fantastic love story between Rick and Ilsa. Which is extremely powerful. My thoughts are, if you haven’t had your heart broken then you might not understand Casablanca. Everyone by a certain age has gone through a breakup, and has had their heart ripped out. Once you can empathize with the way Rick feels at the train station leaving Paris is when Casablanca will hit home for you, or it did for me.
So with all of this, when should I let my kid watch Casablanca? I think the appropriate age to understand the full weight is around 13-16 depending on the individual. I still think the love story might not have as much effect, but if they have a good grasp of history and are interested in it then I think they would enjoy the story.
Do you remember the first time you saw Casablanca? Do you even like classic movies? Still find them boring? If you have children when do you think you would introduce them to classic movies? Comment and let me know.