Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Les Miserables - The Miserables

1998 by Bille August

Jean Valjean, a young man is arrested for stealing bread, and spends 20 years in a jail. While on Parole he promises to change to a new man, because of the kindness of a Bishop. 9 years later, he turns up as a wealthy industrialist and mayor of a small town. The new police officer to the town, Javert, had earlier worked in the jail and has doubts about the Mayor and has pledged to bring out the truth. Javert, though sincere, is too uptight and performs as a perfect employee for the system, without any kindness for even the suffering. Valjean promises to take care of the young daughter of a poor woman,who had worked in his factory. When an innocent man is arrested as Jean Valjean, mayor himself announces in the court that the man is innocent and the court should be checking on him. Valjean leaves the town with all his savings, finds the daughter of the dead woman, Cocette, and sneaks into Paris, where he works in a Convent and brings up his daughter. Javert is always on the look out of Valjean, who actually will not leave the convent at all and protects Cocette like his own daughter. In 10 years, when Cocette grows up into a beautiful young woman, she falls in love with a young revolutionary, Marius, whose group has big plans against the King. Javert is working to thwart their attempts, but still has plans to find out Valjean and through his informers finds all about Cocette and Valjean. Valjean wants to leave to England with Cocette, who actually is worried for Marius. Valjean goes to the riot site and asks Marius to return to Cocette, but is finally caught by Javert. Valjean pleads to Javert to arrest him and leave Marius. He promises to Javert to come back to him, after taking the injured Marius to safety. When Valjean returns, Javert is impressed by his honesty, lets him free and then kills himself. Valjean walks back as a happy man.

Based on the famous Victor Hugo novel, I am not really sure if the movie turned out great. Of course, I havent read the original novel. But I was sure that something was missing, when Javert commits suicide after letting Valjean free. That scene lacked any backing of the story or script. I was thinking, why should he do that. He is still a great police officer and by leaving him free, he finally show some kindness, can pretend nothing has happened, letting Valjean and daughter to escape to England etc. After all the mistake of Valjean is not a big crime, just stealing bread, and nobody other than him shows any interest in finding Valjean. But he kills himself. But then, this is the failure of the movie may be. Sure this must have been well explained in the novel.

Having said that, Les Miserables is still very good, excellent settings, photography and some beautiful acting, especially by Jeoffrey Rush as Javert and Liam Neeson as Valjean. Jeoffrey Rush is so good that we really start hating his character. Excellent performance. But Uma Thurman, as the mother of Cocette, was a poor choice.

However, I got really curious about this story and hence did some search and understand now, that there are many changes on the script from the original novel. Anyways, Les Miserables is a good watch. 

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