Update, February 29th: Sommer contacted me to let me know the Casablanca build will remain open for the foreseeable future – as long as visitors continue to behave themselves! – so if you’ve not already done so, done miss the opportunity of a visit!
Update, February 27th: TracyLynne dropped by to read this post, and afterwards IM’d me in-world to let me know she had, and that the chess table mention in the piece as missing, and which featured in Rick’s exchange with Peter Lorre’s Signor Ugarte where he is given the Letters of Transit for safe-keeping, has now been added. Thank you, TracyLynne!
It’s one of the all-time classic romance films of the 20th century, the tale of American Rick Blaine in Casablanca during 1941, trying to run his own bar and ostensibly stay out of the war. However, he is drawn into matters when his former lover, Ilsa Lund, now married to a fugitive Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo, walks into his bar, trying to find a way to reach the still neutral United States – and he happens to have the means by which they might do so.
At the time it was made, no-one involved in it expected Casablanca to become the iconic film we know it as today. But in the years and decades following its initial release in 1942, it has become adored for its leading pair of Bogart and Bergman, its many quotes, its memorable theme song and its atmospheric sets. And, until around the end of the month, Second Life users can immerse themselves in this cinematic legend thanks to TracyLynne Carpenter and Sommer Shepherd.
Sitting above Sommer’s full region of Nantucket Island, lies a beautiful recreation of some of the key locations from the film. It started life as the setting for an in-world party, but Sommer has opened it up for public visits, and it is a place any lover of the film or great and photogenic Second Life builds is not going to want to miss.
Teleporting to the build brings you to the location of the film’s iconic finale: the concrete of Casablanca Aerogare, where an Electra aeroplane bound for neutral Lisbon awaits its passengers. It is here, on a foggy night that Rick persuades Ilsa to board the flight with her husband rather than staying with him, warning her that if she doesn’t, she will regret staying. “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” Then, as the plane departs, Rick walks off into the fog with his new comrade-in-arms, Captain Louis Renault. Regarded as one of the finest endings to a movie (and one in places ad-libbed by Bogart), it is the perfect opening to your visit.
From the airport, you can walk down one of the winding streets of Casablanca, past the headquarters of the Vichy police, to Rick’s Café Américain, the central set of the movie, fabulously reproduced (
perhaps only missing the chess board – see the comment at the top of this piece – over which Rick first learns of the means by which he will eventually be able to help Ilsa and Laszlo), when Signor Ugarte persuades him to look after two “letters of transit” he has acquired, guaranteeing the holders free passage throughout German-controlled Europe.
But this is more than just set pieces from Casablanca, it is an imaginary glimpse into the making of the film. Cam along some of the buildings on the street leading to Rick’s bar, and you’ll find them to be wooden façades, propped into place from behind, indicating this is in fact one of the sound stages on which the film was made – albeit one lovingly blended into a suitable desert environment through the magic of Second Life.
Take a walk around the back of the set, and you’ll find film supplies, spare cameras, tented catering and make-up facilities, and the caravans which might have been used by Bogart and Bergman had they really been on location, offering them places to rest between takes or rehearse lines. Other hints that this is a film set can be found elsewhere, such as the camera and director’s chairs sitting alongside the arrival point, or the camera set up in Rick’s bar.
This really is the most marvellous build; one which shouldn’t be missed while there is the opportunity to visit. if you haven;t yet dropped into Rick’s Café Américain, neither Caitlyn nor I can urge you strongly enough to make sure you do. You may not encounter Bogart of Bergman when visiting, but if you love the movie, I can guarantee you’ll hear their lines echoing around you.
- Casablanca Sets (Rated: Moderate)