7.6/10
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33 user 43 critic

À Nous la Liberté (1931)

À nous la liberté (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Musical | 31 December 1931 (USA)
Seeking better life, two convicts escape from prison.

Director:

René Clair

Writer:

René Clair (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 Henri Marchand ... Émile
Raymond Cordy ... Louis
Rolla France Rolla France ... Jeanne
Paul Ollivier Paul Ollivier ... L'oncle (as Paul Olivier)
Jacques Shelly Jacques Shelly ... Paul
André Michaud André Michaud ... Le contremaitre
Germaine Aussey ... Maud - la femme de Louis
Léon Lorin Léon Lorin ... Le vieux monsieur sourd
William Burke William Burke ... L'ancien détenu
Vincent Hyspa Vincent Hyspa ... Le vieil orateur
Edit

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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

31 December 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

À Nous la Liberté See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Films Sonores Tobis See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Title translation: Freedom for Us. 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 »

Alternate Versions

In 1950 director Rene Clair re-edited and shortened the film based on existing prints (the Nazis had destroyed the negative). Some excisions include the singing flowers and the scene at the Luna Park. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Modern Times (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

Classic French masterpiece.
4 November 2003 | by uds3See all my reviews

Sobering indeed that this innovative and quite unique early French "talkie" has garnered but four reviews. This is akin to the Cistine Chapel going six months without visitors!

As any student of early film would have discovered, the premise of "A Nous La Liberte" was undoubtedly "lifted" and used by Chaplin in his revered MODERN TIMES. Others have mentioned this aspect.

The film is a satirical comment, almost a control experiment from one viewpoint, focusing on the ideology of big business, and in regard particularly to newly gestated industrial technology, just how the individual is viewed as little more than a means to an end. A resource to be used and no more. Clair poses the question, is the worker..the LITTLE man - any more or less a free-thinking and needful entity than the embittered prisoner serving out his time?

The film follows the fortunes of two ex-cons. One makes it to the top of the industrialised ant-hill, the other makes it to the nearest sheltered alleyway or park bench. Whilst Clair experiments freely here with music and song, the Metropolis-like buildings lend a sombre note to the proceedings at hand.

Stylistically dated perhaps now, and the humor betrays its thirties origins, nevertheless at its core the observations made still hold true. This remains a critically important cinematic benchmark not just in terms of early French cinema but also in terms of a director's extraordinary vision so many years ago.


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