Freedom Song Movie Review

Long and annoying have been the boasts of TNT of its status as "the best movie studio on television." With that celebrity narrator whose voice you know by heart and whose name always escapes you, TNT's advertisements for its latest western directed by Bill Pullman, or, in this case, Gandhi-rip off starring Danny Glover pop up right in the middle of the TV edit for an old movie that you could probably go without seeing and normally cause people like me to switch to the upper-channel echelon of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and The Movie Channel... where I don't have to bother about hearing from some moron boasting that their station produces really good "made-for-TV" movies as if this was something to be proud about.

Having finally caved in and sampled TNT, having sampled HBO on a fairly regular basis, I can now say without a doubt that not only is TNT not the best movie studio on television... it is by far one of the worst. With large payments towards directors who do not demonstrate fair ability, TNT seems to reward the kind of schlock-TV that has made "TV-movie" into a status symbol in the film industry.

A case in point is Freedom Song, yet another "based on a true story" TV-movie that is slightly above the limbo bar set by Lifetime. With shaky camerawork, a simplistic script, a simpler purpose and characters that seem to be cut out of the pantheon on the civil-rights movement clichés (the outsider, the old soldier who gave up, the subversive who has been fighting in his own way his entire life, and, of course, the narrator with a conflict that he has to get over), Freedom Song just is another example of why TV movies are only examples of what couldn't make the cut of the silver screen.

Freedom Song deals with the civil rights movement in the really deep south of Mississippi where Owen Walker (Vicellous Reon Shannon) is still sore over being spanked by his father because he accidentally walked into the Whites Only waiting room at the train station. His father didn't want to spank him, but was forced to by whites, and because of this his father has lost his own spirit for fighting for The Movement, only to watch his son grow into the person who eventually desegregates the Whites Only washroom (by staging a march on City Hall and getting the Freedom Riders to desegregate the place).

It's a plot so kitschy I have to remind myself that it actually happened.

Now I am of the generation (and race) that never had to deal with the Jim Crow laws, but this should not stop me from saying what needs to be said about "Freedom Song:" that it is a gimmicky movie-of-the-week quality made-for-TV movie that should have never been aired, let alone released on video. I've read the history books, I've watched Gandhi, Malcolm X, and Glory... all of them more than once... do I really have to see yet another flimsy excuse at filmmaking when I could just read the books (history ones, that is), and get at least as good of an idea at Freedom Song offers, or watch some incredible films dealing with racism, and get a better idea of the message behind Freedom Song?

Please. No more games, no more gimmicks, and, above all, no more claims that TNT is the best movie studio on television because, with films like Freedom Song, you can rest assured that it is not.


Comments

Freedom Song Rating

" Weak "

Rating: NR, 2000

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