Combustible Celluloid
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With: Henri Marchand, Raymond Cordy, Rolla France, Paul Ollivier, Jacques Shelly, Germaine Aussey
Written by: René Clair
Directed by: René Clair
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 104
Date: 12/18/1931

À Nous la Liberté (1931)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Sound and the Flurry

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Rene Clair's Under the Roofs of Paris (1930) and A nous la liberte (1931), both released on DVD by the Criterion Collection, have been celebrated for over 70 years, but I found them a bit too quaint. Compared to his contemporaries Jean Renoir and Jean Vigo, Clair was a minor talent, though both of these films do contain innovative uses of sound mixed with silent film. Under the Roofs of Paris is a love triangle between a songwriter, a gangster and a beautiful woman, while À Nous la Liberté is about two prison escapees, the first who makes a fortune in sound equipment and the second who threatens to blow his cover. However, each disc comes with infinitely more interesting short films. The Roofs disc comes with Paris qui dort (1925), a silent sci-fi film about a group of Parisians who wake up to find the entire town frozen in time. The Liberte disc comes with Entr'acte, Clair's 1924 surrealist short originally shown between two acts of an opera.

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