7.7/10
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32 user 40 critic

À Nous la Liberté (1931)

À nous la liberté (original title)
Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 31 December 1931 (USA)
Seeking better life, two convicts escape from prison.

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(story and screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Henri Marchand ...
Émile
...
Louis
Rolla France ...
Jeanne
Paul Ollivier ...
L'oncle (as Paul Olivier)
Jacques Shelly ...
Paul
André Michaud ...
Le contremaitre
...
Maud - la femme de Louis
Léon Lorin ...
Le vieux monsieur sourd
William Burke ...
L'ancien détenu
Vincent Hyspa ...
Le vieil orateur
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Storyline

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 footsperry

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Le chef-d'oeuvre de René Clair

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 December 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

À Nous la Liberté  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
[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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Freedom for ever.
21 September 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Emile and Louis are two jailed friends who dream of freedom and plan to escape. Louis is successful and becomes a phonograph factory tycoon, after Emile finally breaks out he seeks work at Louis' factory. Tho initially the harshness of industrialisation keeps them poles apart, they both come to realise that friendship and being honest to oneself is far more rewarding than love or any sort of financial gain.

À nous la liberté {orginaly titled Liberté chérie} is a truly biting musical satire written and directed by the considerably talented René Clair. Filmed without a script, with Clair giving his actors free licence to improvise, the picture focuses on the dehumanisation of workers at an industrial plant. Shifting as it does from prison to this monstrosity place of work, the viewer is forced to wonder just exactly which is the prison of the picture? For workers trundle in to work, punching in to a clock and sitting at a conveyor belt for hours on end, they are merely robots for this corporate machine, life is indeed desperately dull.

Clair pulls no punches in portraying everyone who doesn't work on the shop floor as greedy capitalist schemers, one sequence literally see the elite grasping for Francs strewn by the mounting storm. This wind of change also releases Emile and Louis from their respective constraints, and it's thru this change that we the viewer are rewarded with a truly uplifting ending that closes the film magnificently. The picture was a flop on its initial release, managing to offend parties from various corners of the globe, but now in this day and age the film has come to be hailed as something of a French masterpiece, coming some five years before Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times {Clair's camp even wanted to sue Chaplin for plagiarism, but Clair actually took it as a compliment}, this clearly is the template movie for industrial indictment. At times devilishly funny, at others poignantly sad, À nous la liberté is a cinematic gem that all serious film lovers should digest at least once. 9/10


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