The story of Yvonne in Casablanca is perhaps the greatest example of economy in storytelling that I've seen. She appears in only three scenes in the entire film, with this one the last of them. Her total screen time combined is probably no more than a minute. And yet, in those brief stretches, we see an entire character arc play out; and what's more, an arc that acts as a microcosm of the entire film. [...]
The same woman who was willing to compromise everything for her own security is realizing how far that compromise has made her fall; is realizing that she may never see the homeland she loves again; is realizing that she'd rather die a true Frenchwoman than live a traitor. It's the same type of journey we see Rick travel more slowly throughout the movie, and shows perhaps the film's most important motif: the choice between personal desire or safety and the greater good. How many people must have faced similar choices in the war -- to collaborate or die? Yvonne isn't just herself in this scene; she's representing scores of people as she faces hard truths and makes her emotional break.
Seven Inches of Your Time: