In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives for ever.
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In the book, Monsieur Thenardier identifies himself as "Napoleon's Sergeant." Ian Holm has actually played Napoleon himself in several films. See more »
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 »
I should have known. The scoundrel joins up with the fools.
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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.
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