À Nous La Liberté Movie Review
The story follows an escaped convict who schemes to becomes a wealthy businessman, only to be foiled by another con who shows up when everything is going well. There is much singing (and little dialogue otherwise) and dancing en route to the rise of the movie's theme, a lambasting of technology and modernization (or else it's a celebration of the legendary French laziness, you be the judge). It's ground that Charlie Chaplin would explore five years later in Modern Times -- earning him a plagiarism lawsuit in the process. (Clair's production company would eventually lose the suit as it was dismissed during the chaos of WWII, as is revealed on bonus materials on the Liberté DVD.)
As with many early talkies, the film emulates a silent, with many scenes where the only sound is that of the music. Sound effects weren't recorded unless the actors were planning to talk. It's a bit jarring to hear glass breaking in one moment but all sound to cease in the next. However, there's no doubting the pioneering set design and extravagant choreography evident in many of Liberté's scenes. Remastered from a 35mm composite print, the film looks better than ever on this Criterion disc.
Other extras put Liberté in its historic place, with deleted scenes (one including a surreal singing flower), a Clair short film called Entr'acte (from 1924), and a recent interview with Clair's wife.