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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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Clair's À nous la liberté is a wonderful satire of modern mass production, magnificently shot, directed, decently acted and with impressive sets. The satirical content is stressed but not too on-your-face. The main reaction to the film is delight.
Some of the sequences were an obvious inspiration to Chaplin, whose masterpiece Modern Times resembles this film quite a lot both in the way it looks as well as thematically.
The picture and sound quality, at least in the version shown on Finnish TV, are superb which is surprising considering the age of the film.
The music is good and well used, except the songs which are slightly irritating. Still, this is a great and pleasing film with a very amusing scene in the end, taking place at the opening of a new factory.
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