movie film review | chris tookey

Taking Liberties

  Taking Liberties Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
7.86 /10
Narrators: Ashley Jensen , David Morrissey . Participants: Mark Thomas, Clare Short
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Directed by: Chris Atkins
Written by: Chris Atkins

Released: 2007
Origin: UK
Colour: C
Length: 88

Michael Moore has a lot to answer for. This new documentary is in his polemical tradition, and shares the fault of many in its genre by not examining the facts closely enough, or acknowledging that there are at least two sides to almost every question.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Taking Liberties calls itself ďthe most important film of the decadeĒ, which immediately calls into question both the film-makersí probity and their sense of proportion. It constructs a powerful but much too familiar argument that ever since 9/11 Tony Blair has been busily dismantling our civil liberties. Some of this may be new to someone who doesnít read a newspaper or listen to the news.

It would be churlish not to sympathise with the film-makersí anxiety to retain our privacy and right to a fair trial, free speech and imprisonment without torture. It is a bit churlish of them, however, to ignore the very genuine threat of terrorism and suggest that we are all merely victims of the Prime Ministerís authoritarian tendencies.

When it comes to New Labour being brutish and economical with the truth, there is a cornucopia of evidence for the film-makers to draw upon, but they seem unable to distinguish between the significant and the trivial. They do the usual thing of pouring scorn on politicians by having a monotonously sarcastic, sub-Ian Hislop commentary, which inadvertently makes you sympathise with the person being sneered at.

Then thereís the kind of clever-clever editing which isnít all that clever Ė such as juxtaposing Blair saying that we donít live in a police state, next to footage of British police throwing their weight around. This kind of editing tactic is used to conceal the fact that the film-makers have no grounds whatever for saying that Britain is a police state. The film too often goes for the easy laugh, and cheats when it should be clarifying.

Similarly, the film fails to investigate the story in any depth. For example, they show us the police apparently over-reacting to peaceful protesters, but there is no attempt to discover why the police were behaving this way, let alone where in the chain of command the decision to do so (however daft or sensible) was made.

There is a tacit assumption that everything in Britain happens because of some edict from the Prime Minister, but no evidence is produced to support that hypothesis. And Iím quite sure Blair himself would admit ruefully that he wishes governing Britain were that easy.

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