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Free, or freedom, is more of a goal—or a concept—than a statement of fact.
Is anyone truly free? From what? To do what? The classic hero’s journey inevitably ends in some form of freedom from their former state but what happens next? What do they become?
Here are five films exploring what it means to be free.
The best movie of 2018. Queen, and most especially Freddie Mercury, told us they wanted to break free, which is the enduring message of this film. Break free, be yourself and to hell with those who don’t like it. Even if Freddie himself was only really free on stage.
Tilda Swinton switches sexes about 100 years into her eternal life. Free to be man or woman, free to live forever and understand the big philosophical questions, the story is left tantalisingly un-ended and unanswered for us. Only Orlando is granted a measure of peace. Darn that Virginia Woolf.
“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” Martin Luther King campaigned for freedom and it cost him his, in Selma. Like so many others who want freedom for themselves and their people, it also ultimately cost him his life.
The latest instalment in the Halloween story takes place 40 years after the original film and demonstrates that Jamie Lee Curtis’ character was never free of Michael Myers, not for one day in those four decades. He was incarcerated and she escaped—but both were chained to those events.
With we humans being a hurdy-gurdy of hormones, passion and doubt, it has long been a popular concept in science fiction to have a society where humans have been ‘freed’ of emotions. This movie, with Christian Bale, is an intelligent and enjoyable exploration of this freedom and its inevitable failure. I think it would have done great at the box office if it had not come out at the same time as a little flick called The Matrix.
Dead Poets Society
The late, great Robin Williams essayed a few roles where he encouraged freedom of thought. Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and even Patch Adams explore this, but never better than here.
Getting his students to speak from the gut on how they feel about Walt Whitman, whom they are told to revere, is one of the best school scenes ever. In this instance, we do know what happens next. Tragedy, when a boy does not feel free enough to tell his father his truth.
This article originally appeared in Magazine: FREE for Summer 2018/19, available for free while stocks last. Find out more about Magazine here.