George Michael: Freedom is the documentary he co-directed, himself, last year, unaware at the time that it would end up screening after he passed away, on Christmas Day 2016, from heart failure.
An immense talent of singing and songwriting, he made some incredible tunes over the years, hitting the peak in 1990, for me. I was working that summer at Little Chef, inbetween school and University, just as Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 was being released. I was blown away with Praying For Time, even just hearing it over a crappy little radio in the washing up area out back.
So, what we need is a tribute to him which will last for all time… which we don’t get.
As a documentary, it feels very pretentious, opening with a brief intro from Kate Moss, and then going into a James Bond-style version of Fast Love, sung slowly by Adele – which would put anyone into a coma, and reminds me of when she was one of the worst things about Skyfall. I really hoped it was going to improve, since otherwise, it felt like a car-crash into Snappy Snaps…
What follows is the occasional words of Mr Michael – albeit most of which we’ve heard before, as it’s mostly sourced from previous documentaries, plus endless arse-kissing from celebrities as they listen to his music and comment on it, such as contributors include Naomi Campbell, Liam Gallagher (effing and jeffing because that’s all he can do – he certainly can’t sing!), Ricky Gervais, and the never-ending pain in the backside that is James Corden. Seriously, who on Earth thinks he’s even the least bit funny? They never to have a word with themselves. Oh, and it’s been a long time since Gervais was funny. So it’s like a Musical Celebrity Gogglebox. We already know the music is great, so these add nothing.
In fact, Corden observes that had he not done a ‘Carpool Karaoke’ with George Michael for 2011’s Comic Relief, he might never have been the big star in the USA that he is now. Oh, what a shame that would’ve been(!)
There’s occasional clips from live performances with Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, for example, but they’re just clips. I’d rather see the whole peformances uninterrupted.
Hearing Freeek! again, it reminds me how many radio stations playing it uncut during the daytime, even though it included the line, “I’ll be your inspirational lover, your one-fuck fantasy”.
George Michael jokes his life was a ‘waste of time’. Well, this documentary was pretty much the same thing. Best just to listen to his music, instead. And to that end, Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 is getting a re-release this Friday, not only in vinyl, but also as a CD boxset with 3 CDs and a DVD containing the 1990 South Bank Show episode, promo videos for Freedom! ’90, Praying For Time and Freedom! ’90 MTV 10th Anniversary.
George Michael: Freedom is repeated on Channel 4 on Thursday night at 10.50pm, as well as 4Seven tomorrow night at 9pm, as well as post-broadcast on All4. Following the documentary, and then also online is
George Michael: Live in London.
The documentary is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, though, but in the meantime, you can pre-order Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 on CD/DVD boxset and Vinyl, plus you can now buy the hardcover book, George Michael : 1963-2016.
Score: 3/10 – just for George’s comments and the music… until he’s interrupted by another celeb talking head
Directors: David Austin and George Michael
Producers: Lisa Johnson
Mary J Blige
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.