A Nous la Liberté (Liberty for Us) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Nous la Liberté (Liberty for Us) Reviews

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½ October 10, 2016
At first, it's a prison flick with all the inmates singing about the freedom they don't have. We see two of them plot their escape - but only one of them makes it. He manages to work himself from street busker to factory owner in a quick montage. His factory makes phonographs. When his old cellmate appears working on the assembly line (later ripped off by Chaplin, although he settled the lawsuit without admitting it), the boss thinks he is about to be blackmailed. But instead, his friend just wants help winning the girl of his affections. It doesn't work and soon a gang of crooks really do appear to blackmail the boss. In a twist that might only work in the France of the time, he abruptly donates his factory to the workers, let's his money blow away in the wind, and hits the road as a tramp with his friend. So, this makes it something of an anti-capitalist piece but blink and you could miss it. Renoir's The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936) hits the nail more squarely on the head. But Rene Clair's earlier film is an early talkie that still contains some of the lyricism and wowing art direction of the silents but I think I prefer his Le Million (also 1931).
June 16, 2016
Not my favorite Clair film, but it has a a lot of hear with a few comedic moments.
January 29, 2016
Classic 1931 French film from Rene Clair is quite amusing and has moments of inspired brilliance. there was even a lawsuit against Charlie Chaplin as the Production Company claimed he ripped off some scenes for "Modern Times". Worth watching for comedy or classic film fans.
½ July 6, 2014
Two con men try to escape from prison. One was successful and the other was recaptured. While outside, the guy who got out made his fortune by becoming a factory owner and eventually they reunite when the other gets parole. Complications though ensue. This is, by the way, a musical (though the music is fairly just okay). It's extremely well-crafted and there are some laughs. But unfortunately, I didn't find myself heavily invested in either character thus preventing me from completely falling in love with it. "Under the Roofs of Paris" was better.
½ April 4, 2014
An escaped convict becomes a wealthy factory owner. When his prison buddy finds him, hilarity ensues in this charming musical about choosing friendship over money.
September 15, 2012
Freedom Is Different Things For Different People

Okay, let's get this out of the way right now. This film was not plagiarized by Charlie Chaplin. A lawsuit was filed, but so what? As the audio essay included on the Criterion DVD points out, Chaplin was also sued by someone who claimed that his experiences in a mental hospital was the basis for [i]Modern Times[/i], and no one believes him, either. Yes, there are a few similarities, but only a few. By and large, they are two very different movies, not solely because this one is the story of two people, not just the lone Little Tramp. Besides, if you're looking at Great Themes of the 1930s, you're going to encounter plenty of works about the dehumanization of the Little Man because of industrialization. It was a theme which had been building for some time, and it's one which hasn't exactly gone away. In fact, there isn't even any evidence that Charlie Chaplin had seen this movie until the lawsuit; it's almost certain the suit was a publicity stunt by the original studio.

Émile (Henri Marchand) and Louis (Raymond Cordy) are fellow prisoners in France. They become friends, and they escape together. I kind of missed how they were separated, but anyway, Louis ends up building a career for himself as a phonograph manufacturer. He has a large factory, and he's covering up his questionable past. Eventually, Émile ends up as a worker in Louis's factory without knowing that it is his friend who is in charge. He sees Jeanne (Rolla France), a young woman who also works at the factory, and he falls in love with her. And, yes, he and Louis encounter one another again and continue their friendships, with Louis even agreeing to help Émile meet up with Jeanne, whose uncle is some sort of executive at the company. But all is not well, because a group of people from their past recognizes Louis and decide to blackmail him in exchange for not revealing his secret to the police.

Comedy, I think, is much more personal than tragedy. What makes people cry is universal; what makes you laugh is within you. That's why there are so many different kinds of comedies, or anyway that's my guess. It's one of the reasons I am less inclined to pick on people for not liking comedies I love. (Though one of the reviews of this movie that's up on the site at the moment is a negative review by an obvious troll, so let's discount that!) This movie is funnier than the French "comedy" I watched yesterday, but I don't think it's as funny as Chaplin's take on the same theme. And of course, in the end, that's what we judge comedies on most. The cinematography of a comedy may be excellent, the costumes superb, the score one of the best ever written. But if it doesn't make you laugh, well, that's death for your enjoyment of the movie. Dramas are easier; it's okay if they don't make you cry. Though of course, the plots of dramas have to make sense, and comedies don't.

It's nice to see a French comedy that doesn't rely on true insanity. The Japanese take a lot of grief from Americans for being weird, and it's true that there is a major cultural gap between the US and Japan. However, we actually derive more of our culture, from a historical perspective, from France, and I don't even know how it's possible for their films to be so different from ours. I have speculated before that France has been about experimental film pretty much as long as there has been film, and that it has included fiddling with plot. It is true, as I said, that the plot of this one isn't revolutionary enough to justify the plagiarism suit. The jokes are not even always clever; many of them are the sort of jokes that everyone makes in this kind of comedy. And, yes, it's worth noting that I liked it better than most of the more original French comedies I've seen. But that's another one of those things which makes me wonder about my own limitations as a critic--if I were capable being broader-minded, would I like French cinema better?

The movie concludes on the note of idealism which seems to be one of the two choices in this kind of movie. The phonograph factory becomes so automated that it's supervised by two guys who technically spend more of their time playing cards than actually working, and that means that everyone else has the time to do whatever they want, aided by the profits they have as stockholders in the company. (Which they are because of a wacky but satirical sequence involving wind.) This is the dream of automation; eventually, we hope, no one will have to work and machines will produce everything we need. I read something not long ago about how freedom means knowing that you don't actually need to make a living. Only in order for the stock of the factory to be worth anything, someone has to keep buying the phonographs. We can't all coast as stockholders; it's easy to say that not everyone needs to make a living if you can afford not to work yourself.
½ July 25, 2012
Very funny, very sweet. A very early sound film for France; part of the fun is to see the parts that Chaplin, Lucille Ball and others 'borrowed.'
March 30, 2012
I love films of the early 30s, especially those of Europe, where the soundtrack was not only a recording of auditory data but a layer just as important as the image. However, in this case I agree with the Time Out Film Guide that this is worth seeing for historical reasons, both to understand Clair's fame and his subsequent eclipse. Part of the problem here is that Chaplin pretty much superceded this with Modern Times. Great, great sets. Also Sacha Baron Cohen's character in Hugo comes from here.
March 18, 2012
great comedy classic or classic comedy u descide
February 19, 2012
Finished this film this evening. A lot has been said about the similarity between this and City Lights. This one is much more life-affirming. And, if you've seen "The Artist" recently, that would have been good for preparing your attention span for this movie. The montage where the prisoner goes from escape, to selling records on the street, to selling records in a small, then large store, to making phonograph machines in a large factory, to owning many factories is a good example of what an effective, economical montage looks like.

It's no wonder this 80 year old film is a classic.
½ January 26, 2012
Didn't hold my attention. I'll have to rewatch it someday when I'm less distracted.
½ October 28, 2011
Early comedy which goes far beyond its "message" - because it's funny and engaging
October 23, 2011
looks like a good comedy
October 22, 2011
Looks really funny, but not as much as Modern Times, my personal pick for funniest movie ever.
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2011
Going beyond the usual Clair vs. Chaplin debate, A Nous la Liberté is a superior film in terms of satire and criticism. The neoliberal motors of the "organization and progress" motto carry the idea that "work is liberty"; not only that is a lie, but also an idea carried out by modern industrialization enterprises and factories. Addressing such hard topics in a comedic, slapstick way is one of the most unusual moves I've ever seen in cinema (Chaplin may have thought the same). Hence, the ending is a hilarious irony: the substitution of labor by machines and capital caused the exact opposite result. That's the motto of exploitation: "either you accept my preposterous wage or you can eat dust".

½ June 3, 2011
In René Clair's "A Nous la Liberté," Henri Marchand and Raymond Cordy are woefully miscast as two ex-convicts. I had high hopes for this picture, but ultimately the humor fails to produce laughs and the satire is misguided and disconnected from the truth.

The tone of the movie is sharply uneven and that's likely due to the fact that the movie had no shooting script and the actors were forced to improvise. This ultimately leads to the fragile and disjointed structure. I have no idea why René Clair trusted these actors to build the foundation for his movie - they simply do not have the screen presence or charisma to carry a film. On that basis alone, the movie is not effective and thus I cannot recommend it.

With that said, the score provided by Georges Auric is one of the positive aspects of this movie, as it attempts to match the movements of the assembly line. It almost makes up for the lack of chemistry between Marchand and Cordy.

René Clair shows glimpses of promise and with better actors he might have pulled this off, but his lack of vision is accentuated by the lack of truth in the messages he attempts to portray.
May 28, 2011
This movie brilliantly mingles between silence and audio. It also drives home the point which it is satirizing without sacrificing any of the comedy that comes a long with a satire.
½ April 23, 2011
What the hell! The factory is automated to a 'T' and all the workers are now supervisors, drinking wine, playing cards, fishing. Fishing!! Come man, we all know they should have been fired, rendered homeless due to their useless skills (making phonographs, ha, ha, ha) with many heading towards suicide. Instead of them fishing by the river at the end, all the excess and redundant labour should have been throwing themselves in like lemmings.
April 14, 2011
René Clair's A Nous la Liberté is a sweet and simply pure slapstick entertainment that works on a lagre scale. The cinematography i amazing, it's a industrial satire with all the amazing machines and all the fuzz of following them. This was five years before Charlie Chaplin's Mordern Times, it deals with the same theme.
½ January 20, 2011
Extremely funny. It has the feel of Marx brothers, Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin. This preceded most of those, but one can't go wrong when compared to them.
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