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Freedom (2014)

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Two men separated by 100 years are united in their search for freedom. In 1856 a slave, Samuel Woodward and his family, escape from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia. A secret ... See full summary »

Director:

Peter Cousens

Writers:

Timothy A. Chey, John Senczuk (story editor)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cuba Gooding Jr. ... Samuel
Sharon Leal ... Vanessa
David Rasche ... Jefferson Monroe
Kimberly Nichole Kimberly Nichole ... Barnyard Slave 4
William Sadler ... Plimpton
Bernhard Forcher ... John Newton
Jubilant Sykes ... Ozias
Anna Sims Anna Sims ... Mary
Aaron Bantum ... Jim
Phyllis Bash Phyllis Bash ... Adira
Michael Goodwin ... Garrett
Ben Thompson ... Willie
Gregory Russell Cook Gregory Russell Cook ... Clem
Daniel Gerroll ... Herbert Barton
Terrence Mann ... Barney Fagan
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Storyline

Two men separated by 100 years are united in their search for freedom. In 1856 a slave, Samuel Woodward and his family, escape from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia. A secret network of ordinary people known as the Underground Railroad guide the family on their journey north to Canada. They are relentlessly pursued by the notorious slave hunter Plimpton. Hunted like a dog and haunted by the unthinkable suffering he and his forbears have endured, Samuel is forced to decide between revenge or freedom. 100 years earlier in 1748, John Newton the Captain of a slave trader sails from Africa with a cargo of slaves, bound for America. On board is Samuel's great grandfather whose survival is tied to the fate of Captain Newton. The voyage changes Newton's life forever and he creates a legacy that will inspire Samuel and the lives of millions for generations to come. Written by Distributor

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Two men, 100 years apart, united by amazing grace.

Genres:

Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 April 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adira See more »

Filming Locations:

Connecticut, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Production One See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color (ACES)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Airing Nationwide on Showtime and The Movie Channel. See more »

Goofs

In the English Church, a man is seen wearing a hat. Never done in Christian churches: Women at the time were to have their head covered, while men removed their hats. See more »

Connections

Featured in Studio 10: Episode dated 22 August 2014 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Written by Wallis Willis (uncredited)
Performed by The St. Olaf Choir and Marvis Martin
Also performed by Phillip Boykin, Jeremy Pope, Roslyn Seale, Nesha Ward, Sumayya Ali, Geovonday Jones, Nikki Stephenson, Brandon Dennis and Billy Lowrimore
Conducted by James Lavino
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful and Haunting
5 September 2014 | by chipsarereadySee all my reviews

Australian musical theatre star, Peter Cousens, has reinvented himself as a film director, and his debut feature is not a cheap slasher horror or gritty suburban crime thriller, but a big budget drama tackling important social and historical issues, shot in the US with a big name cast. Aspiring filmmakers should be jealous. I know I am.

Coming hot on the heels of Django Unchained and other slavery themed productions, it is easy to dismiss Freedom as Twelve Years A Slave-Lite but Cousens' feature is a very different creature altogether.

Screenwriter Timothy A. Chey runs two plot lines in parallel. The first is set in 1856, following slave Samuel Woodward (Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr.) and his family as they escape from a plantation in Richmond, Virginia and begin their dangerous journey to Canada on the Underground Railroad. Not far behind throughout their journey is slave hunter, Plimpton (William Sadler).

Almost 100 years earlier, we meet ship captain John Newton (Bernhard Forcher) who is struggling with his faith and conscience as he transports slaves, including Samuel's great grandfather, to the New World.

This reviewer found the second plot line to be the least effective. Although developing a human connection to his cargo through a series of incidents at sea, Newton's final expression of kindness is to pen the hymn, "Amazing Grace", not save anybody from their hell-like future existence. I suppose the song does provide Samuel and family some comfort and motivation a century later. It may also have helped my understanding of the film had I been aware that John Newton composed the iconic song. Pardon my ignorance, I assumed it was written by God.

Samuel's tale, on the other hand, is a gripping tale of escape and near recapture, and I was willing Gooding Jnr. and co to get across the border throughout the whole 98 minute runtime.

Although not a musical, Freedom uses music, in particular singing, as a metaphor for the humanity that we all share. I was moved by some of the numbers, sung in their entirety, such as the joyous singalong between the escapees and a troupe of theatre performers, including Australian musical theatre headliner Tony Sheldon. Less successful were a few songs, performed out of context, musical theatre style, especially Samuel's wife Vanessa (Sharon Leal) breaking into tune whilst walking inside a church. The result was being snapped out of my engrossment and remembering that I was watching a film.

Freedom was shot on location in Connecticut. It looks beautiful, courtesy of cinematographer Dean Cundey (Back to the Future, Apollo 13).

The cast is wonderful. I have no idea how Cousens' managed to enlist such a lineup for his first feature. Cuba Gooding Jnr. really delivers in his best performance in years as his Samuel struggles between the choice of revenge or freedom. William Sadler is capably menacing as a slave hunter with ethics. Even one of my favourites, Terrence Mann (The Dresden Files, A Chorus Line) makes an appearance.

Peter Cousens has concocted a beautiful and haunting film which will appeal to a "Best Exotic Marigold" audience. Despite its religious undertones which frankly did not bother a non-believer like me, Freedom still has plenty to say about slavery, an issue which is just as relevant now as it was in 1748 and 1856.


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