My Favorite Movies #36 – Les Miserables

Les Miserables - PosterLes Miserables

2012

Directed by Tom Hooper

Quick synopsis… The musical version of Victor Hugo’s epic tale of love and sacrifice, first produced for the stage in 1985, now receives the big-screen treatment. The bloody era of the French Revolution is the backdrop to Jean Valjean’s long struggle for redemption.

  • Don’t let the fact that Tom Hooper has gone on to give us the fever dream that is Cats.
  • This film is incredible.
  • One of the incredible things about it is that the actors are not lip-synching as they sing.
  • They’re singing live on set as their scenes are filmed.
  • This is different than movie musicals have been done in the past, where the actors will record their songs in a studio and their scenes in the movies basically become a music video.
  • Right away, that sets Les Miserables apart.
  • Hugh Jackman is Jean Valjean, who begins the film as a prisoner who has served his time, and then some.
  • As a prisoner, he’s under the watchful eye of Javert (Russell Crowe), who warns him as he goes on parole to learn the letter of the law.
  • Valjean, as an ex-con in 19th century France has no rights and receives no aid or sympathy from anyone he encounters, until he is invited to spend a night in a church.
  • From the kind bishop, he learns the meaning of grace.
  • And this is where we find the difference between Valjean and Javert.
  • Javert does not buy into the idea of grace, seeing legalism as the true path to righteousness.
  • Meanwhile, Valjean spends the rest of his life doing what he can to make up for his past and his mistakes, while understanding he can never repay his debt and that the grace granted by God is the true path to righteousness.
  • This play/film follows the lives of so many individuals.
  • But at the heart of it is this lifelong conflict between Valjean and Javert.
  • In the end, Valjean holds Javert’s life in his hands and shows him the mercy that Javert has never been capable of showing others, and it basically destroys Javert.
  • He just can’t reconcile it in his mind.
  • It really is a great movie and the music is fantastic.
  • If you like musicals, then this is one to see.
  • If you don’t like musicals, then avoid it.
  • Because it is literally nothing but singing.
  • Most musical films are just normal movies where people burst into song from time to time.
  • Les Miserables sees the characters singing every line of dialogue.
  • But it definitely works.
  • Sadly, I’ve never seen the stage version.
  • So I don’t know the differences… maybe some day.

Come back next week for a trip back to the 1980s when we take a day off with Ferris Bueller. I’m referring, of course, to the John Hughes classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

What did you think of Les Miserables? Would you recommend it to people you know? Do you sing along when Eponine heartbreakingly sings “On My Own”? Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Movies #36 – Les Miserables

  1. Les Misérables- I had to watch this film twice before knowing if I liked it. Yes, twice. After that 2nd chance, the rest is history. I am literally an obsessed Les Mis- I actually now own a 2nd copy of the film due to wearing out the 1st. I am still an emotional wreck, and do sing along to the songs usually when not watching. Even when it is songs alone, I am still in tears.

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  2. Ooo I saw this! (A rarity on your list sometimes) and I think I liked it? But it has Anne Hathaway so probably not 😂 I had no knowledge of the story and/or history and notoriety of it before I watched it so I’m not sure if I really appreciated it as much as one should.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this film and even own it. I saw Les Mis for the first time on stage a year before the film came out, so I was a little biased towards the theater actors, but I still like the film version. Saw it on stage again last April.

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