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Critics' Choice
GEORGE MICHAEL SHINES IN FREEDOM
10/18/17

By Rhian Jones

The documentary George Michael: Freedom portrays the late singer as a genuine superstar who’ll be remembered exactly how he wanted to be: as a talented songwriter with integrity and heart. It’s well worth a watch.

The documentary, made before his untimely death in 2016, airs on Showtime on Saturday; it already premiered in Blighty earlier this week.

Commissioned by Sony Music and Channel 4, the story starts in the ’80s with the rise to fame of Wham!, the duo that brought some light relief to the charts during a time of political turmoil when the ultra-conservative Margaret Thatcher was in power.

After a string of #1 singles and albums, Michael embarked on what was to be a stratospherically successful solo career worldwide. Liam Gallagher—one of his many celebrity friends featured in the doc—called him a modern day Elvis Presley.

In addition to documenting the pressures of fame, his extraordinary talent and extreme self-assurance, the film focuses on the heartbreak Michael felt when his boyfriend, Anselmo Feleppa, died just months into their relationship. The tragedy fuelled an anger that was funneled into Michael’s famed 1992 lawsuit with Sony over the promotion of his second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice.

Michael didn’t want to appear on the album cover or in videos, and alleged that Sony didn’t make sufficient marketing efforts in response. If you fall out with your boss, Michael argues, you should be able to find a job elsewhere.

Sony knew a ruling in his favour risked setting a precedent that would allow other artists to break out of contracts. Michael, of course, lost the case and made only one more record over the last two decades of his life.