Originally Posted by jonpiper
If that was the story goal, it should have been established by the protag by the end of Act 1. Right? It took quite a while into Act 2, before Rick could even think about that. I'm arguing that Rick is the main character in Casablanca. Rick's goals and struggle are what the story is really about, even though his goals are not the story goal.
On the other hand, Laszlo's goal (to get the letters) was established at or near the end of Act 1. This goal is not what the story is really about, but it is the Protag's goal. A neat, tidy goal for a Protag.
Think of it this way. The story goal in Casablanca, Laszlo's goal, provides the throughline for the story. Above this undercurrent, is the real story. Rick struggles with his memories and love for Ilsa and his other issues.
The protag and main character are usually the same character. In Casablanca they are not. This allows the writers to create a very complex main character, a character without a neat goal that drives him through the Second Act. Rick is a character whose character is slowly revealed throughout the second act.
That's the beauty of separating the protag and main character when the story warrents it.
Be hard to agrue that Laslo is the protagonist becase of how the movie ends. There is no hollywood cheap explosion or child like tear jerking moment...
it's just melancholy scene.
I'd argue that if Laslo was the protagonist there would be a bunch lame stuff, like a newspaper saying the 'war is over!' or a race to get to the airport -- with a final scene of Laso and Ilsa in a romantic embrace