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Mr. Freedom

William Klein
France  1967 / 95’
Ulrike Ottinger's choice

An American sheriff from the South (John Abbey) becomes a patriotic superhero called Mr. Freedom: brutal and racist, he uses the word "democracy" to justify his raping and pillaging. He is not alone, as he works for Freedom Corp., which sends him to France to protect that country against a certain Red China Man. This leads to a clash of two opposing forces. Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum called William Klein's trigger-happy satire of imperialism and Cold War rhetoric "the most anti-American film ever made." Suspecting that Mr. Freedom might have problems even with festival distribution, the director decided to show it at Avignon's theater festival in 1968, where it sparked lively discussions. Fueled by the countercultural ferment of the late 1960s, the film is now a testament to the mood of that era, and its cast included some of the icons of the time: Delphine Seyrig, who provided a parody of a Bond girl, Philippe Noiret, and even singer (and Klein's friend) Serge Gainsbourg.

Adam Kruk

William Klein

Born in New York, William Klein moved to Paris in the 1940s, where he studied painting under the guidance of Fernand Léger. He quickly abandoned painting in favor of photography, however, and he focused especially fashion photography. A prized portrait photographer, his work has graced numerous covers of Vogue, and he has also published photo stories about various cities (capturing the Prix Nadar in 1957 for his album New York), making him one of the most recognized photographers in the world. He has been directing films since the late 1950s, mainly documentaries, but also commercials and feature films (Mr. FreedomThe Model Couple).

Selected filmography

1958 Broadway by Light

1966 Kim jesteś, Polly Magoo? / Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? / Who Are You, Polly Magoo?

1967 Mr Freedom

1969 Muhammed Ali, The Greatest

1999 Messiah

Cast & Crew

director William Klein
screenplay William Klein
cinematography Pierre Lhomme
editing Anne-Marie Cotret
music Michel Colombier, Serge Gainsbourg
cast John Abbey, Delphine Seyrig, Donald Pleasence, Jean-Claude Drouot , Serge Gainsbourg
producer Guy Belfond, Christian Thivat, Michel Zemer
production Films du Rond-Point, O.P.E.R.A.
sales Arte France
language English, French
colouration colour