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I have collected about a dozen versions of Les Miserables on film, and this is by far the best. The production is brilliant, the entire atmosphere created is totally faithful to the book, the characters perfect. And then there is the score - overwhelmingly emotional when called for. I wish a copy of Magnes soundtrack was available, I have to rely on the audio I have taken from my DVD which I had created from video. Can't praise this film highly enough. It's leagues above the next best - the Charles Laughton version. I won't even stop to mention some of the terrible American versions that have appeared in recent years. They are in my collection because I can't stop collecting but that is about the only reason! It took me five years to put myself through the Musical version of Les Miserables, but I was pleasantly surprised - it's good. But compared to re-reading the book or watching this film version it is pale........
The Robert Hossein's version of Les Miserables is undoubtedly the most faithful adaptation to Victor Hugo's novel. Lino Ventura is great as Jean Valjean as well as Michel Bouquet as Javert and Jean Carmet as Thernardier. All the actors are well characterized and the darkness of the film gives the story the right atmosphere of misery and sadness. The whole story is squeezed into the three hours film, so the events happened quickly, but remaining faithful to the original story. If the film had been two hours longer, it would have been perfect. Other adaptations that I consider good are the 1934 starring Harry Baur, the 1958 starring Jean Gabin and the 2000 version starring Gerard Depardieu.I consider regular the British adaptation starring Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins. I consider as bad adaptations the 1998 version starring Liam Neeson and the 1935, starring Federich March.
I've seen quite a few versions of Les Misérables but this one is for sure one of the best. Maybe the 1958(Jean-Paul Le Chanois) version with Jean Gabin as Jean Valjean gets close to it but Lino is literally awesome! The 1985 TV adaption is about 218 min long - 30 min longer than the 1982 cinema release and split in four parts. So take your time, it's worth it! 9/10
Robert Hossein offered the public a great version of Victor Hugo's novel.
read the book many times and I only regret that the movie (and even the TV
version more complete) has to cut some of the action, or the film would
to be at least 6 hours long.
The actors are all well chosen. from the always perfect Michel Bouquet to Jean Carmet and Candice Patou, very moving, and Christine Jean, very beautiful. But most of all there is Lino Ventura. He is Jean Valjean, he doesn't only play the part. I guess in his real life, he was a kind of Valjean himself, having a difficult life in his youth. This movie has been made 20 years ago and it's now a classic. No one could tell it's already such an old movie, the message is still the same since Victor Hugo's time. The story is out of time and this movie version is too.
A compelling version of the Victor Hugo novel that should be sought out and viewed by fans of other versions and the novel. This theatrical release is not as complete as the longer television version broadcast in 1985, but nonetheless gets you hooked. Hossein is as faithful to the novel as possible. Film features a wonderful and human portrayal by Ventura as Valjean and does not betray the ending of the novel the way American and British versions have.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe the darkest and most artistic version. Very sad, very
heartbreaking. It is book-faithful as possible, and has a wonderful
cinematography. It has a lot of adorable little Brick moments.
Lino Ventura's Valjean is the only one who rivals Jean Gabin's. He's a very good choice for this role. A real actor, not a star. And I cried for him. The end is even more sad than in the book. He dies totally alone, in a ghost-house. The last scene evokes the first - but this time Javert says: "You are free now." (Or something like it, my French is limited.)
Javert is also great. The only thing I miss is the sideburns, but the actor has his personality. He's cold, always calm, always honest. Not your usual "bad guy" interpretation. No, Javert was not a bad guy. His end proves it. (Besides, it was beautifully directed - you see him write the letter and then you only see his hat, his coat and his nightstick at the parapet...)
Thénardier is okay, but he doesn't seem really evil, just misfortunated. Mme Thénardier is book-like, and yay! she dies in jail, and Éponine steals the crucifix from her hand. (Brilliant little scene.) Cosette is so... well... cold. Like she had no feeling. It's not a surprise such a girl forgets Valjean... Marius is quite okay, at least he isn't ugly, but his hair is totally '60s. Enjolras has an EARRING(!) and is black-haired, but pretty. Courfeyrac is win. Combeferre has red beard and glasses, and looks like my ideal Colline (from Puccini's La Bohéme). Grantaire exists, drinks, and dies together with the others. Gavroche is perfect, and sings Little People! in French. Really! Éponine is ugly and miserable, isn't emo, and is pretty book-like. Azelma... exists. Fantine has dark hair, but otherwise she's OK, her transformation is quick, but artfully done. Nuns are OK. Fauchelevent too. (No graveyard scene, however.)
Maybe the most beautiful scene is the first attack. It's a long, silent scene in slow-motion, with a sad music. It seems Peter Jackson stole a LOT from this...
Hossein is a great director. This is the only Les Mis version that is actually an art movie, not just an adaptation.
Absolutely worth watching, but beware, very, very depressing.
Generally, while none really(apart from the truly outstanding 1934 film, not just the best version but one of the best films of the 30s) are as good as the book Les Miserables is well served, with only the 1998(actually started off really well but the second half really lets things down) and 1952 versions left wanting. This Les Miserables is one of the best versions, nothing is particularly wrong here actually but for personal tastes Enjolras could have been better developed and while entrancingly beautiful Christine Jean was a little too bland and cold for Cosette. It is one of the most faithful adaptations, the darkness and emotions in the story are intact as is the ever-resonating message. And this is not just in the details, which are there and recognisably and developed well, but also in spirit. Of scenes that are done particularly well, the standouts would have to be are the cleverly shot and affecting barricade scenes that are second only to the 1934 film in excitement and the final scene which you cannot fail to be moved by. The film is incredibly well made, with very authentic costumes and sets(with the sole exception of Marius' hair), as well as atmospherically scored and beautifully directed. The script is intelligent and brusque, very like Victor Hugo's own writing itself, and it takes its time to develop its characters in a tense but tragic way. Valjean and Javert are still the most interesting characters but plus points also have to go to one of the best depictions of the Thernadiers of any Les Miserables adaptation and also the genuinely moving one of Eponine, one of the characters that holds the story together. The acting is very good, especially from the noble and charismatic Valjean of Lino Ventura, a menacing, strong-principled but conflicted Javert of Michel Bouquet, Candice Patou as an Eponine that we feel pity for and the oily but never too sadistic or too buffoonish Thernadier of Jean Carmet. One shouldn't forget Evelyne Bouix's moving Fantine and Françoise Seigner that is pretty but every bit as oily as Mrs Thernadier, and Frank David is not creepy or bland and doesn't come across as a pretty boy as Marius. In conclusion, excellent film and adaptation. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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