My friend Adi sent me this page of her Marketing text book. The comment below the poster says,
"Consumers often feel dissonance when purchasing products or services. It is that uncomfortable feeling of mixed emotions-- the movie makes me said, but I love Bogart and Bergman."
Not only was it really cool of Adi to send me this photo, but it's also incredibly true. We overcome the knowledge of emotions that may cause us to be temporarily uncomfortable in order to see the better parts of things, including our favorite stars, directors and scenes. This short statement is making a simple analogy to try to appeal to the Marketing students who might read the text, but within this simple analogy is a deeper appeal to people who enjoy what is actually pictured.
We know that in order to be worth while, a film has to have conflict. In order for us to love Casablanca, there have to be parts which we don't necessarily love. A few key moments in Casablanca for example, most people say, "I would have done this..." or "I would have done that..." but what makes the film great, is that the moments of dissonance occur.
Granted, I'm taking this statement and running. I mean I'm sure the writer of the text was not thinking, "Oh, I'm sure some Classic Film geek will be blogging about this some day so I better refer to Casablanca in order to have my work vaguely referred." Doubtful.
Conflict and drama rely on the juxtaposition of emotions, situations, people, personalities or really any two things. Sometimes, more than two. I am not a big fan of the word juxtaposition when I am describing films. Though, I feel that we all use it from time to time, I just feel it an "any film person's" word and slightly pretentious. I digress.
The contrast, though it may make us uncomfortable, irritable, angry, sad or the opposite of those things, it is needed. You would never be happy if you didn't know un-happy. You would never know agitation without desire.
When a film has a blend of ups and downs, timed correctly and rightfully administered, it is inescapable and memorable.
When I film is too bland or too rough towards the senses, chances are, it will lose you at some point, you'll check your watch or reject what is being offered.
Casablanca is a film where you cannot look away. It never asks you if you're alright with the situation, but it captures you and won't let go.
The film has it's own initial contrast, which I constantly bring up because the irony is too good: The film itself was a happy accident. The actors weren't pleased with the movie while filming, the writers didn't have an ending (they shot two because they couldn't figure out what was best on paper), many people threatened, or thought about leaving... and yet it ended up #2 on AFI's Top 100 movies of all time.
The end result was worth the dissonance. So, don't reject dissonance until it completely loses you. Whatever is around the corner might be the best thing you could imagine.