George Michael / Freedom Uncut
Four-year-old TV doc gets theatrical release
George’s “last work” is dusted down to promote the Older reissue
An ‘uncut’ version of the 2017 George Michael documentary Freedom will be released theatrically in June this year.
Freedom was first show on TV in the UK on 16 October 2017, two days after the appearance of the much-delayed reissue of Listen Without Prejudice (which had been held back in part to benefit from Freedom‘s appearance on the TV schedules). Both projects were conceived while George was still with us, but he didn’t live to see either come to fruition.
Freedom takes us through the now familiar stages in George’s career – Wham!, tight shorts, Top Of The Pops, Making It Big, Going Solo, Mega-stardom with Faith – before finally slowing down the frenzied pace in the very late 1980s when George attempted to step back from the rather crazy level of fame he had attained at that point. There is a particular focus on Listen Without Prejudice (presumably to promote the reissue of the album) and that court case although the documentary is overly reliant on celebrity endorsements with the likes of Liam Gallagher, James Corden and Stevie Wonder queuing up to listen to tracks such as ‘Praying For Time’ and telling us how good they are.
SDE reviewed Freedom at the time and concluded that is was a “disappointing documentary that skims the surface of a complex artist”. When broadcast in America (on Showtime) the LA Times reported that Freedom was “essentially a glorified sizzle reel stringing together interviews and TV performances any serious fan is likely to have already seen”. The Guardian in the UK called it “preposterous perhaps, but also honest and brilliant”.
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The directors are credited as “George Michael and David Austin” and when shown on TV in 2017, Freedom ran for 95 minutes. Then in 2018 a ‘Director’s Cut’ version, which ran for 114 minutes, was screened at over 25 festivals, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Raindance Film Festival. It won a total of five ‘Best Documentary’ awards. The newly announced Freedom Uncut runs for 108 minutes, meaning it’s actually six minutes shorter than the Director’s Cut shown in those festivals in 2018.
Given it’s nearly half a decade old, I always wondered why Freedom was never issued on blu-ray or DVD and it seems odd that Sony and team GM are scheduling a theatrical run all these years later. The press release makes no reference to the TV screening in 2017 and if you weren’t paying attention you might think this is something brand new. So why is this happening? The only answer I can come up with is they’ve dusted down this old documentary to help promote the Older reissue, which comes about two-and-a-half weeks after this “global cinema event”.
Freedom Uncut will be shown at cinemas from 22 June 2022 and tickets go on sale next Wednesday (27 April). It’s not clear how long the run will be but more information is available via the special Freedom Uncut website that has been set up.