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The film version of hugos epic tale of love honor and obsession. Location shooting provides beautiful scenes of the european countryside. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 11/27/2007 Starring: Liam Neeson Geoffrey Rush Run time: 134 minutes Rating: Pg13
Frenchman Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson), imprisoned for stealing bread, is paroled after nearly two decades of hard labor. A gift of silver candlesticks from a kindly priest helps him begin anew. Forging a decent and profitable existence, he finds success as a businessman and as the mayor of a small town. He even takes in a pregnant young woman (Uma Thurman) and raises her daughter as his own. When a former prison guard (Geoffrey Rush) recognizes Valjean, his past catches up to him. Director Bille August culls mesmerizing performances from his cast, but loses us with an ending that panders to teen audiences. The focus shifts dramatically, and uncomfortably, from the haunted Neeson and his hawk-like pursuer, to his daughter (Claire Danes) and her romance with a handsome revolutionary. After this narrative shift, the script leaves behind the Victor Hugo classic's themes of revenge and redemption to focus improbably on teen angst--hardly what Hugo had on his mind. --Rochelle O'Gorman
- This Movie Is A Wonderful Masterpiece...!!
I Was watcging this movie Once and when I saw the first 15 Minutes I Just had to Continue because of hoe seductive it was.
I recommend this movie to people who like differnet types of films and definitely DRAMA, this is a great (Catch me if you can" type movie but nothing like Catch me if you can. I have watched it tons of times and love it eack time. There are scenes in this movie that are really worth watching for everybody and the whole family....more info
Great Service. Delivery Time was fast and the product was exactly what I ordered. I was very satisfied....more info
- This movie is one of the best.
I have read over some of the other reviews, and I couldn't differ with them more. For one thing, 99% of all movies which are taken from books, do not ever live up to, or follow the book completely. That is the same for this movie. But, it does include all the main ingredients to make it a hit. The actors do an outstanding job with their characters, and the movie rolls very smoothly as the story is told.
I am a history teacher, and even though the events of the French Revolution portrayed in the moive are slightly off timeline, the content of the inner battle in all of the characters acurately portrays the French Revolution period. This is a movie about how a man can change, and does change, to be a giving and caring person. He is chased by the Inspector, who is brought up to live within the boundaries of the law, no exceptions. In the end we see the inspector dealing with his inner turmoil, about how to handle Jean Valjean, and he does it in the only way he can allow himself to handle it. All this follows exactly with the ideology of the period for which it took place.
I have shown this movie to my classes for the past four years. In most cases of showing movies in class, most of the kids fall asleep during movie time. I have never had any student not like this movie. Several have even gone to rent the movie to watch again, after we have watched it class.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone intersted in taking it at its face value as a great movie about life during that time period. But, it is not for those who want something taken exactly from the book....more info
- An Underrated Adaptation
I've been a Les Miserables fan for about as long as I've been a concsious being. I love the musical, the novel and several film versions. However adapting Hugo's epic novel (easily over a thousand pages) which spans several decades into a 2 hour film is a difficult task for anyone. The various made for TV miniseries have the luxury of time to present the story in something resembling it's entirty.
Given the challenges I think the creative team did an admirable job. Yes, there are some huge cuts (gone is Enjolras whose function is filled by Marius, Eponine, the Threnardiers) but the writers of the screenplay manage to streamline the story fairly well, keeping the focus on the fugative Jean Valjean's redemption. Imprisoned for almost two decades for stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean leaves prisona hardened criminal who takes refuge one night in the home of the Bishop of Dinge. Valjean repays the Bishop's kindness by stealing the Bishop's silver. When he is caught and brought before the Bishop, the Bishop tells the police that he'd given the silver to Valjean as a gift. He then tells Valjean took keep what he has stolen and take more besides, but that he must use the money to become an honest man. Valjean decides to start anew. He breaks his parole and we meet him ten years later as the mayor of a town and a small business owner. However when a new police inspector, Javert, arrives in town, Valjean is recognized as who he is and is forced to confront his past. Therest of the story follows Valjean as he attempts to save a dying prostitute (Fantine) and failing that, raise her orphaned daughter (Cosette) while he elludes the grasp of the single minded Javert. The novel and musical deal with many subpolts however this film narrows it's focus to the central relationship between Valjean an Javert, and the theme of sin and redemption.
The acting is by far the film's greatest strength. Liam Neeson portrayes Valjean as a good man, but also a flawed man. Many actors fall into the trap of portraying Valjean as a saint- Neeson portrays him as a man struggling with himself and the world and attempting to let the best of himself dictate his actions. Geoffrey Rush is a perfect foil as Javert, a man who strictly adheres to a moral code. However his rules leave no room for extenuating circumastances and thus there is no place for mercy in his mind. These conflicting worldviews are the crux of the tension in the film. In a supporting role as Fantine, Uma Thurman is introduced to us as a prostitute desparately trying to support her young daughter who boards with a greedy innkeeper and his wife. We see her sell her har, her clothes and finally her body to support her child. Her health deteriorates. When we first meet her she is stressed looking, when she finally encounters Valjean she is a wreck of a human being. Looking at her worn expression asnd the sparkle that appears when she speaks of her daughter the viewer can imagine the beauty she was before the harshness of the world beat her down. Cosette, Fantine's daughter, never really knows the mother who loved her so much. Valjean takes her from the innkeeper and his wife (where we see her being neglected and abused) and raises her as his own. However he never tells her the truth about who her mother was or his own past. As she enters womanhood Cosette knows that there is something her father isn't telling her and is frustrated by his refusal to do so. When she falls in love with a young revolutionary (Marius) she feels the need to hide the relationship from Valjean who she knows would not approve. People criticize Claire Danes for portraying Cosette as "spoiled" or "bratty" while the character should be sweet and oblivious.I think Danes wisely shows Cosette's love for her adoptive father, her gratefulness to him for all he has given her but is also angry at him for underestimating her intelligence.
The film falters where it deals with the student uprising that preceded the second French revolution. It doesn't have sufficient time to explain the political motivations for events and therefore things feel hsatily brushed owver. As a character Marius appears to be a cypher. His actions seem completely unmotivated. The editing of these parts feels forced and hastily pieced together.
Still Billie August creates an admirable atmosphere and allows Victor Hugo's most important themes to shine through. ...more info
- they didn't...
Oh yes; they did.
Good points: Valjean and Cosette were nicely cast. Had they been given the right material to work with.
However. I'm not entirely sure the writers read the book before trying to write the script!
The romance between Fantine and Valjean. Ah heh. No way. There is No Way.
Next- this goes for the entire movie. Where are Valjean's inner struggles? This is what the book is About (that, and I think the insurrection might be an equally large plot point, though it takes, like, 1/30th of the pages in the book)! Here, Valjean is sort of "well, I'll be good because I have to be." It's not genuine.
The Thenardiers serve pretty much no purpose. No links to Marius's dad, they don't try to rob Valjean later on. Zip. Nada. They're there to abuse Cosette and that's it.
And while we're on the subject.
I don't like the glorified musical Eponine, but that certaintly beats no Eponine at all! You can't have Les Mis without Eponine. You just can't. It's almost like trying to have the insurrection without Enjolras.
So Why is Marius waltzing about making political speeches, pretending to be Enjolras? You can't have Les Mis without Enjolras... It's just not possible. Enjolras is the leader of the student insurrection. Marius is absent-minded and starry-eyed. Marius is not, as described in the movie, a "dangerous radical."
So Marius is, in one hand, a strong, chaste, and powerful leader. In the other, he goes and fawns over Cosette.
And Why is Valjean slapping Cosette? Valjean would Never, Ever slap Cosette! Montparnasse, sure. Then he'd give him a purse. (well, not exactly a slap, but the basic concept...) But Cosette?
And What is with them giving Cosette a gun? She'd Faint if she laid hands on a gun.
And Javert kidnapping Cosette? What?
And what was with that suicide?
Oh, yes. Valjean would just skip away after that. HE NEEDS TO DIE!
And as for Cosette and Marius? What happens there? It seems we'll never know......more info
- Screenplay butchery
This is a visually stunning movie but the screenplay did unpardonable things to the story. I can forgive rearranging things a bit to make it easier to film, but this changed fundamentals of the original moral message and of the basic natures of the characters.
Sadly, I don't think the Richard Jordan-Anthony Perkins version is available in its entirety. It looks campy, but the screenplay was far more faithful to the spirit of the novel....more info
- Good movie overall
After reading some of the reviews, I thought the movie was going to be disappointing, but I guessed I was wrong. I enjoy the movie a lot. The performance was good and full of emotions....more info
- Victor Hugo is spinning in his grave
The cinematography, the sets, the scenery, the costuming--all are lovely. I like all these actors.
But Jean Valjean punching Monseignior Bienvenu? Unbuttoning Fantine's corsette?
I feel dirty. And not in a good way. These alterations are worse than just gratuitous and titillating. They are contrary to the spirit and intention of the original.
Victor Hugo wrote a different story altogether. It was about redemption through self-abnegation. If the screenwriters didn't like what Hugo wrote, they would have been welcome to write their own story, and call it something other than Les Miserables....more info
- A Miserable Adaptation
Bille August's 1998 adaptation of the famous tale written by Victor Hugo in the 19th century: the Charles Dickens of French literature. A horrible adaptation that plunges the film into your typical melo-dramatic Hollywood fluff. A terrible film that shouldn't bear the title of such a great literary masterpiece.
The retelling of Jean Valjean's (Liam Neeson) tale as the ex-con whose escape leads to a chance encounter with a benevolent priest who sets him on a new course in life to do good deeds, is horribly mutilated in this watered-down version of the story. As with the recent 'Count of Monte Cristo' with James Caviezel, so many aspects of the story have been changed that there's little resemblance to the original work as intended by its author. Instead, we have the vision of poor writers who arrogantly presume to be more adept at writing a story than the most brilliant literary masters. The result is a screenplay demonstrating no talent or imagination: adding plots and themes that either obscure or completely undermine the author's thematic message. I will not go into detail as to those changes as previous reviewers have elaborated on that quite well.
The title and concept of a great story are here packed with Hollywood fluff to cover up the ineptitude of those who contrived this pathetic screenplay. Although the acting is quite good, the essential components of the film such as the screenplay, plot and theme are far below average and almost completely at odds with the original story. If you want to see a faithful adaptation of Victor Hugo's great story, don't see this film!...more info
- An echo of greatness!
Victor Hugo's enormous output is unique in French literature... He was described as 'The most powerful mind of the romantic movement' and his novel, published in 1862, continued to be widely read...
The plot - that of a detective - is as well the epic of the people of Paris... Its author claimed it as a 'religious' work, and indeed by means of its characters, sometimes a little larger than life, yet always vital and engaging, and by its re-creation of the swarming Parisian underworld, the main theme of man's ceaseless combat with evil clearly emerges while the whole gives a faithful picture of the declines and flow of life...
Hugo relives his youth in this vast novel, the culmination of 14 years work... He and Valjean share their most outstanding characteristic: their charitable heart...
The story contains glimpses of Hugo's disgust towards 'the treatment of the lower class French citizens by the government: Valjean, an ex-convict recently released from prison, but he is not given the opportunity to make a good living for himself; Fantine forced into prostitution due to the lack of money to pay her illegitimate child...
And towards the 'general injustice of the law enforcement system: Valjean sentenced to prison for stealing a loaf of bread; Fantine arrested for hitting a man of a higher class...
The symbol of France's greed that Hugo despises is Thenardier - the man that Fantine entrusts Cosette to - who betrays the trust by essentially making Cosette his personal slave...
The strongest emotions of "Les Mis¨¦rables are love and hate...
Javert and Valjean are both extremes, with a conscience incredibly strict...
Liam Neeson is cast as the gentle Valjean who takes the twist of fate parlaying it into personal success and moral rehabilitation... He changes his ways to become years later the much-loved mayor of Vigau, and as a caring businessman he struggles to forget the past and manages to redeem his soul becoming benevolent, giving manual and financial help to the weak, sick and poor...
After nine years, Valjean was horrified to discover that Javert - a former guard of the Quarries of Toulon, where he served almost 20 years - has arrived to be the head of Vigau's police force...
Valjean's desire to protect the employees from bad influences leads him to fire (indirectly) one of his workers Fantine - turned prostitute... He assumes responsibility for raising her daughter Cosette... He becomes a father figure and soon forces the choice of sacrificing his own freedom for her happiness...
Geoffrey Rush plays the icy chief inspector Javert, the man who tries "to live his life without breaking a single rule." When he is given the job of spying in the barricades and Valjean gives him his freedom instead of shooting him, things begin to fall apart for him...
The action of mercy of Jean Valjean causes him to doubt the solid base of his existence... He is in emotional agony unable to betray his convictions... He sees too late the truth...
Valjean's legendary physical strength are enough to stir his suspicion that the town mayor is a fraud... He is less villain than a man driven by his own hard concept of justice begging permission of his superiors in Paris to investigate the mayor, the man he believes is a convict...
When he thinks he has made a mistake in identifying Monsieur Le Maire as the 'convict' Jean Valjean, he insists on informing him that he has denounced him unjustly and that therefore he must be dismissed: "You must punish me", he says, "or my life will have been meaningless." (A key line in the film).
Uma Thurman approaches the self-indulgent character of Fantine with admirable restraint, giving a certain level of charm and charisma to the film... She gives her sick mother role a good amount of realism demonstrating her character's frustration and pain exquisitely...
Fantine's misery overwhelms her as she sells her body to support her child... Being in a wild state, enraged at how she is a helpless victim of misery, she is arrested after being humiliated by several would-be customers, but Valjean intercedes on her behalf overriding Javert's authority...
When Valjean helps her, she begins to rediscover hope... Her joy at the thought of having Cosette with her is great... But the shock of Valjean's arrest and the discover that Cosette is not there, are too much for the poor creature...
Claire Danes plays the teenage Cosette who realizes one day that she has become quite beautiful... She disobeys her father's rules by secretly sneaking out and seeing Marius - a charismatic young Parisian revolutionary - with whom she fell in love...
Cosette spends her childhood as a servant girl at the Thenardier's inn, horribly mistreated and constantly terrified... She grew up in a convent, innocent, pure and a bit na?ve...
Peter Vaughan is excellent as the compassionate bishop whose act of generosity turns an embittered Valjean around...
Bille August tries to capture the essence of Hugo's morality staging its political turmoil strongly enough to give it contemporary resonance, keeping the eternal three elements: the bishop handing over the candlesticks; Fantine's collapse; Marius crying out: "To the barricades!"
History doesn't change, as Voltaire once remarked... But what we need from it, does... Valjean's story is not unique, it's universal... In other world, it's contemporary... There are certainly enough "Les Mis¨¦rables" to go all around the world...
- This is an excellent movie one of the classics.
This is an excellent movie one of the classics. Our family enjoyed watching it together. One act of kindness changed the main characters life. Great moral to the story....more info
- Lord, Have Mercy!!
Wow, pinch me.....I must be dreaming.
This is a Grade A exhibit of how you can still make a terrific movie today without profanity, tons of violence and/or sex.....AND how you can make a picture which carries a good, moral message. This is one of truly rare modern-day films that actually espouses mercy and forgiveness instead of revenge.
This is simply a solid film with a very satisfying ending....satisfying to people who aren't in love with edgy, nasty endings.....such as almost all your professional movie critics. So, if your favorite critic didn't give this film a good review - and most did not - please ignore it.
In addition to the involving storyline and excellent acting by Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes, the viewer is treated to some beautiful European countryside scenery. My only complaint of this film is the shoddy treatment it received on DVD. No extras and so-so sharpness. Like the movie itself, it deserves more respect. Hopefully, a Blu-Ray will come out and give us the sharp transfer this film deserves.
- May not be true to the book, but good nonetheless
I don't give very many movies 5 stars. There obviously has been a lot of criticism that this adaption doesn't follow the real story. But if you go into the movie with no expectations - and better yet if you are not familiar or only have a passing notion of the original story - then I think you'll see that this movie is well deserving of 5 stars. I think the greatest surprise to me was seeing Uma Thurman in a dramatic role. Brilliant and inspiring performance. In fact, they couldn't have done a better job with the casting. The only small criticism is that the movie seemed dark - in terms of brightness/contrast - and I had to select a brighter picture setting. I don't know if that was deliberate or just a bad transfer. ...more info
- A Moving Masterpiece
I never cease to be touched by this film; it's one of the few movies I can call "powerful" without being overdramatic.
The story centers on Jean Valjean, a convict -- how his life was transformed by the action of a selfless clergyman, and how his own life transforms those around him. It is very much a story about hope, the rarity and value of selflessness and true love and how it transforms the soul more readily than punishment, and the salvation of the human condition.
The first act always makes me cry. It's one of the most powerful moments in a movie for me -- more of a spectacle than all the battle scenes ever filmed. When those police drag Jean back to the bishop and toss him down at his feet, and that precious man hands Jean the silver candlesticks, I always expect for that shocked feeling to be weaker. It never is.
Although the beginning of the movie is a jaw-dropper, the ending of the movie is just as striking and, in my opinion, the most beautiful portion... the image of the inspector are indelibly etched in my mind.
This movie is also quite lovely. The first parts of the movies are filmed in the gorgeous countryside, filled with lush vegetation and lovely old trees. When the movie changes to Paris, it seems less realistic and more like a series of sets... combined with the love story, it helps to set the movie a trifle off-balance. These are niggling concerns in the end. The theme, characterization, and plot ultimately emerges unscathed.
As powerful and wonderful as this film is, it should be watched after reading the book. It colors one's perception and fleshes out certain character behaviors. Certain things had to be cut to fit the running time, which I could understand (don't worry, this doesn't mean "plot holes"). I certainly don't think the theme suffers too much. Jean always acts selflessly -- makes mistakes through his fear, yes, but in the end always acts on what he knows is right.
Read the book. Then watch this movie. It will make you think about your actions in an entirely different way....more info
- Good for a movie
If you have read the book then you will probably be disappointed in this film due to how they change the plot to git in the time allotted for the film. However if you enjoyed the play, and did not read the book, then you will probably enjoy the film. The casting was fantastic and the scences were well done....more info
- A classic adaptation of the great book
Perhaps the greatest novel ever written now has a modern adaptation for film. Liam Neeson is the new standard for Jean Valjean and the supporting cast is equally impressive in their roles. It is my new favorite for film adaptations of a favorite classic. Moving and emotionally charged as the novel, this film adaptation will be hard to match. It is rare indeed that hollywood improves in remakes but in this case they have exceeded my greatest expectations. Very well done....more info
- Les Miserables
I came across this movie at Church of all things. Our Pastor used clips to supplement the service one day. So my Husband was curious to see it. Wow, what a movie, we real liked it. The time period and story really was intriging and unpredictable. I am glad we have it in our collection at home.Great lessons and entertaining as well....more info
- 3.5 stars out of 4
The Bottom Line:
This version of Les Miserables is well-acted with good production values and a fine sense of what to cut and what to keep from Hugos' mammoth novel; it's a worthy adaptation and a very good film....more info
- Les Mis -- The Movie
Great movie -- all star cast. A must see for anyone who doesn't know the story of Les Mis. A great introduction for learning what the story is about. I highly recommend seeing this before attempting the book or seeing the stage play....more info
- Les Miserable movie review
well, Liam Neeson has done great again! I still enjoy watching this movie even after the 1st time I seen it years ago. ...more info
- Most Enjoyed Of All Adaptations
This particular film version of Les Miserables is arguably the best of the many I have viewed, and the acting is well done. Though no adaptation is completely thorough, this one conveys the heart of the story, which is love, sacrifice, grace, and forgiveness.
In particular, Liam Neeson inhabits the Jean Valjean character quite well, and Geoffrey Rush is just the one to play rigid, uncompromising Jabert.
Of all the various film adaptations of this story, this version is this reviewer's favorite, with the 1930s version, starring Frederich March, running a close second....more info
- Good...but different
Les Miserables is an extremely long book and it is very hard to make it accurate to the true story. I've seen a lot of movie versions of the story and this has to be one of my favorite adaptations. It obvousily doesn't hold a candle to the muscical, but what does?
Liam Neeson does a superb job as Valjean. He by far was the best Valjean I've seen on screen. Goeffery Rush was equally good as police inspector Javert And Uma Thurman played a very good Fantine. Claire Danes did a good job as Cossette, but she often annoyed me. I was pretty upset that they completely forgot about Eponnine(who is one of my fav characters) because she puts a little more intrest in Cosette and Mauris's relationship.
one of the biggest reasons i liked this was cause not everything was like the book and it had a couple of changes that i liked. The ending was pretty bad, but what can ya do?
Overall, a pretty good movie, but i would beware if ur a purist.
- Striving but not really succeeding
It's obviously not easy to compress for the screen something as complex, vast, and subtle as Hugo's novel, particularly when the focus of the book is internal and a movie is necessarily something that is focused on the external. Coupled to these difficulties comes the inevitable Hollywood fixation on test market inputs, happy endings, and schlock-horror-thrills violence. The result is a movie like this, which starts moderately well and then ambles off the rails around the mid-way point.
Liam Neeson is an accomplished actor, but you wouldn't necessarily know that from this movie. His Jean Valjean lacks nuance, perhaps because he's forced into portraying situations that are at times in conflict with the essence of who Valjean is supposed (pace Hugo) to be. His redemption scene is brief and superficial, and his supposed inner torment during the crucial trial scene (in which he ultimately elects to confess his true identity in order to save the idiot in the dock) resembles nothing so much as a man trying to determine which flavor of ice cream to select from the freezer. The only bright spot is Uma Thurman's performance, which is both unexpectedly accomplished and deeply moving. If only Neeson could have produced a performance to match this would have made the movie worth watching.
As for the fabricated love-story conclusion which owes nothing to Hugo and everything to Hollywood, the less said about that the better except for the masterful camera work, in which Valjean's spiritual euphoria is brilliantly conveyed by a long tracking shot that gradually opens up from the gray of the quayside to include finally the features of Paris and the open sky.
If you enjoyed Hugo's book you'd be much better off seeing the French version with Gerard Depardieu, or better still find the wonderful 1990 interpretation starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, which avoids all the normal pitfalls of bringing a huge book to the screen while capturing the essence and subtlety of Hugo's masterpiece. ...more info
- New Version of a Classic
I heard that Les Miserables was possibly the best book ever written, so I bought the DVD. I was not disappointed. Of course, the book was written a long time ago, so the story is a little stilted, and does not hold any real surprises--until the end. It was thought provoking and entertaining, which is all too rare these days....more info
- Horrible adaptation
This adaptation just omits the core of the story, what make it a huge: study of social structures (the living strategy human race uses), how religion in the past creates that structure pointing people to the infinite (or life evolution, and personal role in this continue task we all are doing, even if we don't see it). Religion was needed in the beginning of all societies, pretty tied to social production system (feudalims, capitalism, etc.)
In that process it shows historical aspects, and how those mechanisms do not work. Men's degradation cause the proletary, women's decandency cause the hungry and child atrophy's due to ignorance.
The main character (and time he lives) and is the perfect mean to represent the whole society.
All of this great picture, going up and down to different social layers, their principles, their evolution, their problemas, is completely lost in this adaptation.
French adaptation to screen is much better than this one, but very short (although is six hours movie) and many things are changed from the original text.
So, I think there is no good adaptation out there, as far as I know. ...more info