The lives of two brothers are profoundly transformed as they investigate the strange connection between their deceased father and a mysterious artist in Mark Garvey’s The Freedoms. The documentary’s subjects are brothers Callum and Simon Jones, whose father passed in their youth. So Simon took over the role of father to his brother, but Callum suddenly became lost in life. While searching through their newly inherited home, Callum discovers a photo of his father and an unknown artist named Hettie Entwistle. Curious about her, Callum meets another artist, Kitty Von Abrams, the only known expert on Entwistle’s legacy.
Entwistle was a prolific artist and activist in the 1970s and 80s. She is considered one of the most famous, unknown artists of her time. Unfortunately, before completing her final art installation, The Freedoms, she disappeared. It’s based on the urban legend known as Ley Lines — a phenomenon where if you draw a straight line across a map, both prominent and historic landmarks coincidentally fall along this imaginary line. However, some believe this is no coincidence that these landmarks were placed along that line intentionally, and it is said that these lines possess “earth energy.”
Entwistle’s The Freedoms falls along the St. Michael’s ley line in the United Kingdom. To achieve higher levels of spirituality, one would travel to each of the St. Michael’s ley line landmarks and perform an act of enlightenment or a “freedom.” Seeing his life going nowhere and learning that he has the same genetic disorder that killed his father, Callum insists that Von Abrams allows him to experience Entwistle’s Freedoms.
The Freedoms tracks Callum on his journey, who is joined by Simon (who will act as an observer), the director, cameraman Oliver Kent-Ledger, and audio engineer Máiréad Fitzpatrick. Kitty Von Abrams guides our heroes to each “Freedom” through a gentleman dubbed the Conduit (unnamed), who will act as their driver as well as the artist’s eyes and ears.
“…Callum insists that Von Abrams allows him to experience Entwistle’s Freedoms.”
The first stop is Hopton-on-Sea, where Callum must strip down and “cleanse” himself on the seashore. Pretending to drown, Simon is tricked into taking part and subsequent Freedoms for the rest of the trip. The next Freedom is at Bury St. Edmonds, where they must repeat the greatest name one thousand times. The siblings choose “Hettie Entwistle” as the greatest.
The tasks are not overly tricky and involve Simon and Callum searching for meaning in the stars, burning incense, and participating in an unfilmed Ayahuasca session. What’s clear is that with each successive Freedom, the pair are releasing various aspects of their lives to experience freedom.
I don’t want to get too deep into this one observation, but The Freedoms is promoted as a documentary. Getting about 20-minutes in, I surmised I was on a different kind of journey. So I’ll leave it at that. There’s fun in not overthinking what Garvey presents.
The documentary is more about the relationship between brothers Callum and Simon Jones than the actual completion of the Freedoms themselves. I liken it to summer camp. It’s that opportunity you have to escape one’s everyday routine and turn inwards and consider where life has taken us. This is a good time to seriously think about making drastic changes for the future.
The drama comes as the ailing Callum is forced to come to grips with the death of his father and his unfulfilled life resulting from it. All while Simon needs to loosen up, find the pleasure in life, and unload a secret or two. I found fun in watching the boys reconnect as brothers once I realized what The Freedoms really is as a film and story. So watch the movie, and let’s talk about it.
For more information about The Freedoms, visit Mark Garvey’s official website.
"…I found fun in watching the boys reconnect as brothers..."