One of the all-time great comedy classics, René Clair’s À Nous la Liberté is a skillful satire of the industrial revolution and the blind quest for wealth. Deftly integrating his signature musical-comedy technique with pointed social criticism, Clair tells the story of an escaped convict who becomes a wealthy industrialist. Unfortunately his past returns to upset his carefully laid plans. Featuring lighthearted wit, tremendous visual innovation, and masterful manipulation of sound, À Nous la Liberté is both a potent indictment of mechanized modern society and an uproarious comic delight.
Perhaps the most elegantly rendered feature film of the very early days of sound production (barring, perhaps, Chaplin’s CITY LIGHTS), Clair’s classic is such a seemingly effortless blend of romantic melancholy, bitter social criticism and gentle surrealism, that its many aesthetic qualities tend to overshadow the film’s astounding technological innovations in the poetics of sound.