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Freedom (Scott Hicks, 1982) prod. Matt Carroll for South Australian Film Corporation, Endeavour Communications Corporation, wr. John Emery (later known as Josephine), dp Ron Johanson, music Don Walker, Cold Chisel, design Herbert Pinter, ed. Philip Reid; Jon Blake, Jad Capelja, Max Cullen, Kati Edwards, Chris Haywood, Candy Raymond, Charles Tingwell, Reg Lye; fantasy road movie; Eastman colour, 35mm, 95 min. [Ron steals a Porsche.]
The screenplay was written by one of the rapidly increasing number of 'transgender' people. And it may make a difference to how you read the film if you know it was written by a man who wanted to be a woman. However, it's probably much more important to know that the producers (for some reason beyond my imagination) kept the screenwriter and director apart. They apparently disagreed from a distance about how the story should turn out. The writer, then John Emery, wanted there to be a tougher ending - like Easy Rider, he said - but the producers (and/or director) wanted a 'happy ending'. So it was art vs life, or masculine vs feminine if you like. And the feminine won. The totally undeserving little creep who is the 'hero' of this forgettable film gets to survive (though his Porsche doesn't) and even to go back and get the girl. There cannot be a happy ending ultimately (after the end of the story) because he's still on the run from the cops, but that's beside the fictional point as the film ends with the hero riding off into the sunset. There should have been some indication - and I imagine this is what John Emery wanted - that 'freedom' is a fantasy, and comes in IRL with a cost.
IRL - as they used to say in IRC - in real life, there were both a happy ending and an unhappy one. Happily, Scott Hicks (born Uganda 1953) went on to become almost as successful as you can be as a director, with his film Shine (1996) winning a Best Actor Oscar for Geoffrey Rush. [Geoffrey's own 'ending' is turning out unhappily, his brilliant career having been effectively terminated by the MeToo 'movement'.]
Unhappily, this was the last film (though only the second) made by Jon Blake's co-star Jad Capelja. She had become prominent with her appearance alongside Nell Schofield as the two girls who just wanna surf, in the (rather distasteful) Puberty Blues (Bruce Beresford, 1979). But she never went on the continuing stardom she may have imagined possible (according to Schofield) and suicided in her 40s.
It was also Reg Lye's second-last film. (He dies at the beginning of the last one, Molly, Ned Lander, 1983) It's a pity he has only a tiny part in this one: a few seconds and one line. He was a great character actor, unforgettable in Sunday Too Far Away (Ken Hannam, 1975).
Freedom is a technically proficient film with clear, sharp pictures, some acute editing, fluent, imaginative direction and an atmospheric soundtrack by Don Walker. Impressive packaging, however, cannot compensate for the manner in which Freedom disregards the promise cultivated at the start in the pursuit of ideas that are rendered sterile by a lack of coherence and purpose. Cinema Papers, 38, June 1982; 269-271.
Review by Jim Schembri in Murray 1995: 99; repr. from his review in Cinema Papers, 38, June 1982; 269-271.
Review by Peter Kemp in Filmnews, April 1982: 13.
Wikipedia page for Puberty Blues. And for Jad Capelja.
Garry Gillard | New: 24 January, 2022 | Now: 24 February, 2022