DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

A NOUS LA LIBERTE (director/writer: Rene Clair; cinematographer: George Perinal; editor:  René Le Hénaff; music:  George Auric; cast: Raymond Cordy (Louis), Henri Marchand (Emile), Louis. Rolla France (Jeanne), Paul Olivier (The Uncle), Jacques Shelly (Paul), Andre Micaud (The Foreman); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Clifford; The Criterion Collection; 1931-France-in French with English subtitles)

"An engrossing satire on modern society's belief in the new industrialization age, showing the Machine was not mankind's salvation."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An engrossing satire on modern society's belief in the new industrialization age, showing the Machine was not mankind's salvation. It's the classic film that inspired Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936). The heady film of French director Rene Clair ("Le Million"/"Under the Roofs of Paris"/"Beauties of the Night") impressed with its startling images of mass production on the assembly line and humans acting like robots in a factory setting. Its leftist radical politics was delivered with an easygoing breeziness and its intermingling of song throughout made it feel uniquely like an operetta.

Cellmates Louis (Raymond Cordy) and Emile (Henri Marchand) attempt an escape from prison, but Emile is caught. Relishing in his freedom, Louis goes from a gramophone salesman to the top management position of running a successful gramophone factory by putting into practice the work habits he learned in prison. When Emile is released from prison he finds work in the factory and soon discovers his former cellmate is the plant director. It eventually leads to Louis turning the now automated factory over to the workers to run by themselves, as the police finally learn that Louis is an escaped convict and the felons must flee--happily taking to the road as carefree tramps.

The sublime pic on the dehumanizing of mankind relates prison life to work conditions in the factory. The film's producers sued Chaplin for ripping off A Nous La Liberte for his Modern Times, but Clair refused to go along with the suit and stated he took Chaplin's pic as the highest form of flattery. This got him a lifelong friendship with Chaplin.

REVIEWED ON 9/19/2013       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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