Casino can mean many things, depending who you ask. Hollywood have shaped our perception of what these places really are, breathing a certain life into them, more mystery and intrigue than mere bricks and mortar. But, how exactly has casino representation really changed? What do the 20-something’s of today think compared to their grandparents.
How it all started
First, before we look at modern cinema, we must take it right back to the 60s. Yes, casinos were popular settings among the film noir and American noir movements. But it’s during the swinging 60s that more and more people had access to cinema. And for the first time, many of the general public were stepping under the neon lit archways of on-screen casinos.
The fans of classic cinema may remember casinos as glamorous hot spots, reserved for the well-dressed, eloquently spoken upper echelons of society. Take Sean Connery’s famous casino scene in the 1962 spy film, Dr. No.
In it, we see Britain’s best espionage agent, James Bond – 007, sits down to play a card game.
Opposite is his opponent. A strange, elegant, and well-spoken woman who dupes him almost effortlessly. Her confidence, wealth, and personal serving staff are all focal points you cannot miss.
She isn’t alone either. Each person around the table is sat in a fine suit or sparking dress, meanwhile smart serving staff carry silver trays stacked with martini glasses. The non-diatonic score is subtle, creeping, and hiding in the shadows – everything you’d expect from a spy movie. In these scenes, the casino is a far-away place full of glitz, whit, and riches.
For most movie goers at the time, an exclusive casino like this was something they’d never get to see. It was a prestigious place for the rich elite and lucky tycoons. All bright lights, fancy clothes, and sophistication. The casino’s purpose was to provide glamour and mystery, and James Bond’s Dr. No helped to propel the sparkling image of casinos into the mainstream.
A new take on things
Modern casino representation maintains a glamorous identity. But rather than all being an elitist club for the upper classes, they’re now any man’s arena to win.
This is mostly because the boom in industry, interconnectivity, and travel means most people could visit a casino if they wished. We can even play blackjack or spin slots from home via online platforms like Zodiac Casino. Decades ago, you may have had to travel hundreds of miles to sit at a card table. But now, you can simply log in and play in real-time using nothing more than your laptop. The casino has become inclusive – not exclusive.
This opening of the doors has helped breathe new life into on-screen casinos. They’re now somewhere to spin fresh plots, expand existing ideas, and set up bouts of action. Take a look at the massively successful Ocean’s franchise, or the more recent Black Panther movie.
Both use casinos to represent a setting where the underdog can come out on top. You’ll have to watch the films yourself to see if they do.
Now, let’s fast forward a whole 44 years from 1962s Dr. No. It’s 2006 and Daniel Craig is back on the silver screen as James Bond – 007, in the hit blockbuster, Casino Royale.
The entire backbone of this action-packed movie is built on a high-stakes card game against a mob banker. The fate of the world as we know it, rests on the hands dealt.
So, while the famously prestigious Casino Royale, Montenegro, still represents glamour, it’s a sign of something happening. These casino scenes become a moment to set up the following hours of twists, turns, and action. You can see this thread still being used over a decade later.
In almost any movie showing a card game, they’re usually one of the most pivotal and plot defining points. The casino setting represents game changing importance as well.
Today’s on-screen casinos have become the place where it’s all happening. They represent action, drama, twists, revelations, and everything in between. Who said it was all about the glamour anymore?