Originally Posted by JimHull
But I do believe there is value in understanding the difference between the character who drives the efforts towards the goal and the character through whose eyes we witness the film.
Sure. Casablanca is just a really poor example of this dichotomy.
If Rick was the Protagonist, and by that I mean the character who drives the efforts towards the goal, then I think for the film to have the same sort of ending Rick would have ended up with Ilsa.
I disagree. Let's take a simpler example. Let's say that Luke fails to blow up the Death Star. He doesn't turn off his targeting computer, his torpedoes impact on the surface, and the D.S. blows up the moon with the rebel base on it.
Now, I think we can all agree that such an ending wouldn't be very satisfying, I'm not arguing that it's a better ending,or anything like that.
But it doesn't change who the protagonist or main character of the story is. Those elements are defined the the totality of the story - they aren't determined after-the-fact by the ending.
If Rick had gone through with the plan he told Ilsa, and gotten on the plane himself with her, handing Laszlo over to the Nazis, we all agree that wouldn't be a very satisfying ending, but it also wouldn't change the action of the first 98% of the movie. If you're relying on the ending to define your main character, then, it follows that you're suggesting that you can not identify the main character of a story if you missed the last five minutes of it.
That strikes me as absurd on its face.