A famous left-wing satirical comedy about two ex-convicts, one of whom escaped jail and then worked his way up from salesman to factory owner, where he oversees a highly mechanized ... See full summary »
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A famous left-wing satirical comedy about two ex-convicts, one of whom escaped jail and then worked his way up from salesman to factory owner, where he oversees a highly mechanized operation where the workers are reduced to mere automatons. Fearful of being exposed over his past, at first by his friend and later by another gangster, the owner chooses to give his factory to the workers, then escapes with his friend to the freedom of the open road. The production company for "A Nous la Liberte" was for more than a decade embroiled in a lawsuit claiming that Charles Chaplin had seen their film and plagiarized many ideas from it as he developed "Modern Times." Written by
When Charles Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) premiered, the original distribution company of À nous la liberté, Tobis, wanted to sue. Director René Clair refused to join such a suit, saying that he considered it a compliment if Charles Chaplin based his film on René Clair's, but the suit went ahead nevertheless. Tobis, sued United Artists and Charles Chaplin for plagiarism. The suit, with separate segments in France and in the US, went on for more than a decade, right through WWII. Charles Chaplin, at the request of his lawyers, finally settled, but never admitted to the charge. René Clair stayed aloof from the affair, and he and Charles Chaplin, whom he greatly admired, remained friends. See more »
[Voice over Singer]:
Liberty is the happy man's due / He enjoys love and skies of blue / But then there are some / Who no worse crimes have done / It's the sad story we tell / From a prison cell
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I know this film is hailed as a masterpiece and I know Chaplin's Modern Times owes a lot to it but that doesn't mean the film worked for me. Clair's satirical look at factory workers and their owners who are willing to exchange them for machinery is suppose to be a comedy but I'm not sure which part of it is. Having now seen the film for myself, I can see why the original company went after Chaplin because there's no way in hell that this film didn't influence Chaplin and his masterpiece. However, to me it seems Chaplin saw a technically brilliant but soul less film and made a much better picture. Credit should be given to Clair because the technical look of this film is brilliant and the music score is top notch but that's about as far as my admiration goes. There wasn't a single time in this film where I laugh and I only cracked a smile a couple times. The film is clearly spoofing the factory workers yet I could never see any of the spoof Had you not told me this was a comedy then everything on screen comes off as drama because it doesn't seem to me that there was any attempt for laughs. Another problem I had was the dialogue, which was great but at the same time it kind of went against what was going on in the scenes. The movie is filmed in a silent manor and in my opinion it probably would have worked best as a silent movie. The spoken words because somewhat distracting from the technical side of things so it came off to me as Clair was either making a silent film and later decided to make it sound or the film is just uneven.
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