A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.
“And when two lovers woo
They still say, 'I love you.'
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.
“Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date.
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate.
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny.
“It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by."
The tune of "As Time Goes By" is one
of Casablanca's most important themes, but the
words are sung only on two occasions. Sam sings the first two verses
at Ilsa's request on the night of her arrival with Laszlo in Casablanca.
Rick, who has forbidden the song in his bar, reacts angrily, but
he catches sight of Ilsa just as he begins to reprimand Sam. The
song becomes the occasion of their re-acquaintance. Later, Sam sings
the last two verses during Rick's Paris flashback. As the song plays,
Ilsa and Rick stand beside the piano and Rick fills glasses with
champagne. Ilsa is noticeably distracted, and presumably she has
already learned that Laszlo is still alive. Rick casts a glance
at Ilsa that suggests he knows something is bothering her, but he
doesn't mention it in the dialogue that follows. In this case, the
song marks a missed opportunity to tell the truth and prevent years
The actual lyrics of "As Time Goes By" are also significant,
since the message of the song suggests that the world is a complicated place
full of continuous change, but that one thing remains constant:
timeless, enduring romantic love. Casablanca does
not accept these words at face value but puts them to the test.
The passing of time is one of the film's main themes, and the question
of whether love endures is one of its central questions. Before
Ilsa shows up in Casablanca, Rick seems to have given up on the
possibility of a pure, timeless love. Ilsa's confession of love
in his apartment complicates the picture, but at the movie's finale,
time, not love, triumphs. Time and history, in the form of the war,
dominate the present and steer the future. If the love between Rick
and Ilsa does survive, it will do so only as memory. The significance
of the words of "As Time Goes By," therefore, is that they are ultimately
false. The future canand does bring situations
that interrupt love, and the fundamental things don't always apply.