The freedom, and the desire for freedom, portrayed in Freedom is that of African-American slaves of the 19th century, the hardships of the transportation from Africa, the sales, the plantations and their owners, and the possibilities of escape.
This is a very worthy film, a strong message about freedom, linked with the religious conversion of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace. While many audiences appreciate this kind of film, critics tend to be very cautious, not wanting to be identified with a religious-themed film, expressing over-sensitive remarks about the social and religious messages.
Be that as it may, many audiences would be very interested in the two stories in Freedom, that of the slaves in the 19th century and the story of John Newton in the 18th century. The two plotlines are intercut throughout the film, but brought together at the end where the main slave taking his family to freedom is linked to John Newton.
Cuba Gooding Jr has a substantial role, (different from the many straight-to-DVD action films in which he has appeared for so many years). He is also one of the executive producers of this film. He plays Samuel, who organises plans for his family’s escape, for his elderly mother, his wife (who is actually the daughter of the vicious plantation owner, mixed-race) and his son.
The film shows in some detail the various steps for escape via the Underground Railroad and the wide range of dangers and difficulties en route to the Canadian border and freedom, at a time when legislation prohibited anyone helping the slaves escape (the setting being the 1850s, before Lincoln’s abolition of slavery).
The story of Newton and his influence on William Wilberforce was seen in the film Amazing Grace, a film to be recommended. Another film on Britain and slavery, social and political attitudes, which is worth seeing is Belle.
- Peter Malone, ACOFB
Freedom: Starring Cuba Gooding Jr, William Sadler, Sharon Leal, David Rasche, Terrance Mann, Jubilant Sykes, Tony Sheldon. Directed by Peter Cousens. Rated M (Mature themes and violence). 98 minutes.