Jean Valjean, convicted of stealing bread, is hounded for decades by the relentless and cruel policeman Javert.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Celia Johnson ...
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Magliore
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The Prioress
Christopher Guard ...
Caroline Langrishe ...
Angela Pleasence ...
David Swift ...
Troufiat
Timothy Morand ...
...
Magistrate
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Storyline

In late 18th Century (1795) France, in the middle of the French Revolution, the unemployed woodman Jean Valjean is arrested for stealing bread to feed his family and sentenced to five years in prison in Toulon. He tries to escape from prison due to the mistreatment of cruel Javert, increasing his sentence. Nineteen years later he is released but forced to carry ID that labels him a thief, making him unwelcome at inns and many other places but is helped by the kind Bishop Myriel that feeds and shelters him. However he steals his silverware in the dawn but he is arrested by two policemen and brought back to the bishop. The bishop tells that the silver objects were a gift and gives two additional candlesticks to Valjean. When the policemen leave the place, the bishop tells that he has bought his soul and now he should live an honest life. Jean Valjean becomes a well-succeeded businessman with the alias Madeleine, bringing prosperity to a small town by producing black beads that he had ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Drama | History

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Release Date:

27 December 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Elenden  »

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(Showtime)

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the book, Monsieur Thenardier identifies himself as "Napoleon's Sergeant." Ian Holm has actually played Napoleon himself in several films. See more »

Goofs

At one point, Javert and his officers wade through the sewers up to their waists in raw sewage. when they emerge, their light-coloured trousers have barely a stain on them, and are essentially clean. See more »

Quotes

Fantine: You know nothing of me. I am a stranger to you.
Jean Valjean: It was only a stranger who held out a hand to me... once.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Les Misérables: Musical Review (2013) See more »

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An interesting adaption
3 March 2000 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

An interesting adaption of the story. The screenplay writer John Gay has added about 30 minutes worth of backstory and recounts Valjean's initial theft of the bread, trial and almost 20 years imprisonment in some detail before getting to the scene with the Bishop, which is where the 1000+ page books _starts_!

He has included notable scenes and characters from the book - such as Marius' misunderstanding with his grandfather (played by John Gielgud) and Monsieur Madeline's housekeeper who never lies, Sister Simplice. However, he has also cut many others - notably the whole subplot with Thenardier's gang in Paris, practically all of the students' interactions and the character of Eponine. Further, he has chosen to include some scenes which I certainly would never think of as essential or even substantive, such as the convoluted means of getting Valjean back into the convent where he and Cosette spend 10 years.

The effect of these interesting choices is twofold: Firstly, this movie is very much Valjean's story, with many of the other characters given short shrift. (Javert is an exception.) Secondly, the pacing is somewhat uneven - inclusion of short scenes such as those with Marius' grandfather imply a more detailed backdrop to each of the other characters, but ultimately appear tacked on. Some of the "chase" scenes also come across as gratuitous and lack tension.

The fact that this is a made-for-TV movie comes out in a limited budget and the periodic fade outs between scenes.

On the plus side, Anthony Perkins gives a wonderfully controlled performance as Javert (standout scene for me was his confrontation with Sister Simplice), and Richard Jordan is sympathetic, if somewhat babyfaced even as an old man.

Lovers of that great "kids" TV show Press Gang (highly recommended BTW) will get a kick out of spotting a young Dexter Fletcher as Gavroche.


9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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