Casablanca is a film most famous for its timeless story of great romance and sacrifice. It may therefore seem a strange place to begin to think about the ‘surplus humanity’ of today’s refugees, forced migrants and asylum seekers. Yet a revisiting of the film would show that it is, from the outset, concerned with the fate of the many tens of thousands fleeing war and persecution in 1940s Europe, and streaming into unoccupied French North Africa in the hope of finding some means of passage to the United States – just watch the opening scenes, as the southward flow of refugees is rendered in its inexorability, a flight in no need of further justification than that of escaping certain ruin.
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