Mr Freedom

BookMr Freedom

Mr Freedom



January 1st, 2022



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William Klein's Mr. Freedom (1969) is one of the most important American satirical films ever made, the tale of an American superhero with disastrously misguided priorities. Although it was made in France and with a largely French cast, Klein was an American ex-pat (and GI in France during World War II), and the film's primary topic is American culture. That the film is still so largely unseen (despite a Criterion Collection re-issue) seems to have something to do with a view of it as being, in the words of critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, "conceivably the most anti-American movie ever made". While this is not remotely true, it is indicative of the immense force of the film, particularly for American viewers.

Part of the argument of Tyler Sage’s entry into the Constellation series is that the film is no more "anti-American" than a significant number of others (Dr. Strangelove or High Noon are obvious comparisons) but is off-putting exactly because it highlights that which many moviegoers cannot tolerate having questioned: the ideological nature of American films themselves. It is mildly critical of American policy, but it is directly critical of American mass cultural output. Mr. Freedom is not some outrageous outlier but a part of a tradition as long as that of American arts and letters itself, one that uses satire and exaggeration to reflect on the excesses, foibles and dangers of the stories we tell ourselves.

Author Information

Tyler Sage was educated at Williams College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He's a filmmaker and writer, and has published fiction, criticism and essays on a wide variety of topics. He lives in Los Angeles.