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George Michael-Freedom Uncut ★★★★



Directed: David Austin, George Michael

Cast: George Michael, Liam Gallagher, Nile Rodgers, Naomi Campbell, Ricky Gervais, Mary J Blige

Release: June 22nd, 2022

George Michael’s life and career were remarkable and even more so when you think he was 53 when he tragically passed away in December 2016. At the time of his death, he had been working on a documentary on his career called Freedom, the film was partially completed in 2017, and the full version will be released in the UK on June 22nd. The film charts George’s years in Wham with Andrew Ridgley and their incredible rise to fame and chart-topping success but largely focuses on George’s transition to a more serious artist and the gargantuan critical and commercial success of Faith and Listen Without Prejudice between the late 1980s and early 1990s which remain perhaps his best known and loved works.

This film perhaps comes closer than many others to capture the human side of George Michael, his desire to be loved and the toll some of his losses had on his private life and career. With the film largely from George’s perspective from archive interviews and footage, this is an eye-opening portrait of a creative artist at the peak of his innovation and the fallout that comes from flying so high at such a young age and the toll it can have on your private and public life. Of course, the songs are well known but seeing the story of some of his most well-known tunes and a glimpse at his creative process is fascinating, showing how ground-breaking an artist he was, blending elements of Pop, Gospel, Soul and R&B and becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time. This film captures the essence of George Michael’s warts and all being a funny and moving portrait that’s not afraid to make fun of its subject matter.

Focusing on this part in his life, in particular, gives the audience an idea of how hard he struggled to be taken seriously, especially in the aftermath of the success critically of Listen Without Prejudice. While in the years since his death, there seems to have been a re-evaluation of his artistic merit, perhaps at the time, his achievements in music were under-appreciated. This film further reinforces his influence and prowess as a songwriter. The legal dispute with Sony Music forms a key part of the film and how integrity was an important facet of his character.

These interviews show the warmth and love towards Michael and his reverence from many of his peers. The interviewees are a who’s who of huge names from Elton John and Stevie Wonder to Nile Rodgers, Liam Gallagher, Naomi Campell, Ricky Gervais and Tony Bennett. We also get a glimpse at many of the collaborations across Michael’s career with the likes of Mary J Blige, Paul McCartney, and his performance of Somebody To Love at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert.

Freedom Uncut is a moving and profoundly heartfelt tribute to George Michael, largely told by the man himself. It offers a fresh look at many of his best-loved works and key periods in his career, breaking down many records in ways that will surely delight fans and newcomers alike. Above all, this film unlocks the transformative power of his music and soulful, distinctive sound showing it came from a place of loss and sadness to transfix a global audience. Not that we needed reminding of George Michael’s legacy, of course, but this film will shine a fresh light on an enigma of a man who was often perhaps unsure of himself but who found love from his fans. Indeed, his legacy and music will live on, and this film is a testament to that.

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