When someone is incarcerated, that person’s freedom is gone. Where they go, what they eat, what they do is now in the hands of the prison instead of the prisoner. Two friends find freedom in the French musical comedy A Nous la Liberté (Freedom For Us) when a prisoner escapes and becomes a factory owner, living in fear that his past can be discovered and learning that freedom can come with stressful circumstances.
The tone of this movie is very jolly and feel-good. Filmmaker René Clair definitely put sound to good use in incorporating happy-go-lucky songs. What I found interesting about these songs is that they are placed very naturally without introducing them in a big dance number and epic music. It’s not like they’re even big musical numbers. They’re just there like when you hum a song to pass the time. So think of what kind of film A Nous La Liberté reminds you of when you think of assembly lines, sunny characters going off into the open road, chase scenes. Could it be a Charlie Chaplin movie? Write in which one was sued for plagiarism when it came out.
The best part that I liked about this film was the friendship between Louis and Emile. I was expecting to hear the line at the end “I think this could be a beautiful friendship.” But then this film would be suing Casablanca and there’s already enough lawsuits to go around! Whether they’re tending each others wounds or giving each other a good kick in the back when they’ve strayed off the path, it was a delight to see. There were a lot of funny moments such as when Emile thinks he’s hearing the flowers sing and then he discovers it’s a woman. But it’s not a woman…it’s a recording! If Charlie Chaplin had to pick any movies that show satirical humor towards the transformation towards the machine age, he couldn’t have picked a better one to be his influence.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy on YouTube that wasn’t broken. Here’s some scenes from the film to give you a better idea. You can watch the full film on Hulu: