Sweet Liberty

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"Michael Burgess wrote a book about the American Revolution. Now, Hollywood's come to his town to make a movie of it -- Plunging him into a summer of madness."
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 1 hr 46 min
  • 5.8  (2,937)

Sweet Liberty is a 1986 American comedy film directed by Alan Alda also starring himself in the lead role alongside Michael Caine and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film tells the story of a college professor, Michael Burgess (Alan Alda), who has written a historical book about the Revolutionary War. When a Hollywood film crew decides to make a movie based on his book, Michael is excited to see his work on the big screen.

The film crew invades the small town where Burgess lives with his girlfriend, Faith Healy (Linda Thorson), who is also the mayor of the town. What follows is a comic adventure as the town and Michael come to grips with the realities of making a movie. Michael initially has high hopes for the adaptation of his book, but soon realizes that the film's director, Elliott James (Michael Caine), is quite happy to change the source material into something that suits his star, actor and Michael's love interest, Gretchen Carlsen (Michelle Pfeiffer).

The film raises many questions not only about the art of filmmaking but also about the act of writing history. Burgess initially finds the idea of the movie adaptation of his book exciting, but he quickly realizes that his vision for the story and the director's vision are vastly different. Elliott wants to create a Hollywood blockbuster, while Michael wants to tell an accurate account of the Revolutionary War. This leads to a clash of sensibilities that threatens to ruin the movie and Michael's reputation.

The film also raises important issues about the role of historical accuracy in art. One of the key themes in the movie is the question of just how much creative license a filmmaker should take when adapting a historical event for the screen. This is a question that is still very relevant today in contemporary Hollywood.

Sweet Liberty boasts some great performances from its leads. Alan Alda is excellent as the bemused and out-of-his-depth Michael Burgess, and Michael Caine is great as the slightly sleazy director, Elliott James. Michelle Pfeiffer is also excellent as Gretchen, the star of the film-within-a-film, and Michael's love interest.

The humor in the film is subtle and smart, with Alda's script poking fun at both Hollywood and academia. There are plenty of great lines and funny moments to keep the viewer entertained throughout the film. One of the standout scenes in the movie is a town meeting where the filmmakers try to explain the changes they plan to make to Burgess's book. The scene is hilarious and incisive, poking fun at the tension between commerce and art.

The film's production values are excellent, with some beautiful cinematography and music. The film's score, composed by Bruce Broughton, is a highlight, perfectly capturing the tone and whimsy of the movie.

Overall, Sweet Liberty is a funny and insightful film that raises important questions about the role of art in society. It's a quiet, understated gem that deserves more recognition than it has received over the years. The film's examination of the creative process, the clash between artistic vision, and commercial pressure is as relevant today as it was in 1986. Alda's script is sharp and witty, and the performances by the film's leads are excellent. If you're a fan of smart, funny, and engaging films, then Sweet Liberty is definitely worth checking out.

Sweet Liberty
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 46 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.8  (2,937)