Review: Mr Freedom
Mr Freedom: Who needs subtlety when we’ve got angry sloganeering?
Film Title: Mr. Freedom
Director: William Klein
Starring: John Abbey Delphine Seyrig
Running Time: 90 min
Clad in starred-and-striped cod-quarterback regalia, Mr Freedom (John Abbey) takes aim at an African-American family dinner before travelling to late-1960s France, where “anti-freedomism is at an all-time high”.
Will the jingoistic crusader manage to save or shoot “the reds, the blacks, the Jews, the maybes, and the don’t-knows”? And will his all-American Cornflake breakfast set him up to defeat the nefarious Moujik Man and the inflatable Red China Man?
Agitprop doesn’t get more bruising or broadly hilarious than William Klein’s 1967 satire, Mr Freedom , wherein gospel choirs sing odes to “freedom” over images of sex shops and lynching. A radical comic book pastiche sprung from anti-war sentiment (Vietnam, Algeria) and the film-maker’s new chums among the Paris Left Bank, it has, despite contemporaneous markers (Serge Gainsbourg is Mr Drugstore), never seemed more scathingly relevant. Its anti-imperialist underpinnings are suddenly more mainstream; its superhero deconstruction is a very modern theme. The film prefigures The Tick in its dangerously meat-headed protagonist, Team America: World Police in its callous destruction of half of Europe, and Flash Gordon in its lurid hues.
Who needs subtlety when we’ve got angry, inverted sloganeering: “What we got we keep; it’s all ours; back home when there’s too much wheat we burn it” or “Empty wallets? Empty parking lots? That’s not my style!”