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Les Misérables
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Reviews & Ratings for
Les Misérables More at IMDbPro »

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93 out of 124 people found the following review useful:

How did this film get missed by the Acadmey Awards?

10/10
Author: TexasRedge from Kingsport, Tennessee
8 April 2002

How did this film get missed by the Acadmey Awards? This was a delight to watch. Goeffry Rush does such a good job as the inspector that you forget he is an actor and you really begin to dislike him. This film was also perfectly cast, and it has a wonderful music score. I remember thinking to myself as I watched it, that this movie was going to sweep all the Academy awards at the time it came out(but it didn't-infact in was only nominated for one award -Best Music Score(which it lost to "Shakespere in Love").If you will recall "Shakespere in Love" destroyed all the competition at the Awards in 1998. What a SHAME because this film was 10 times better than "Shakespere in Love" in EVERY catagory. This is also one of my favorite films of all time. I own a copy on VHS which I will get out about once every 3 or 4 months and watch the Beautiful story of Jean Vel-Jean all over again. Looking back to 1998 I still AMAZED that Liam Neeson and Jeffry Rush weren't even nominated for thier roles in this film. This is a film that you and your family will love to watch over and over again. It gets 5 out of 5 stars- A perfect Film, A masterpiece

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89 out of 120 people found the following review useful:

Lord, Have Mercy!!

10/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
21 October 2005

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.

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64 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

An echo of greatness!

9/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
8 September 2000

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 Misérables 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 naïve...

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 Misérables" to go all around the world...

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68 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

Not the Book, but an extraordinary film

Author: Filmhowler from Kentucky, U.S.
14 August 2003

If you love the book, then you won't like the movie. You may notice that other people have noted this film as awful and stupid. All of their judgment is based on the fact that the film is not like the book. However, if you will watch the movie for what it is, NOT what the book is, you may find it is a WONDERFUL movie. The soundtrack is beautiful, the acting is great, and the message is heart-warming. I don't remember seeing such a fine drama in all my life. Not to be biased or discriminating, but if you are of the Christian faith, this movie is 10 times better. It is VERY good, even if it's different from the book. It is one of my favorite films.

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42 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Not true to the story... but entertaining for superb acting

8/10
Author: shanfloyd from India
14 March 2005

It is not possible to make a movie out of this marathon Victor Hugo novel (the original version I borrowed from library got around thousand pages and I had to settle for an abridged one) without leaving out some good portions. It is only to see what portions are left out and what are stressed. That depends on the director's or screenwriter's judgement. See Dumas' "Count of Monte Cristo" and you'll know what I'm talking about. That movie seemed to be based upon an already abridged version at the first place... such incoherent it was. What audience would appreciate is about making a good film, not following every bits of novel little by little. And that is why "Les Misérables" is a good film. It showed excellently what it showed. What is left out is left out, be it some characters that has no major relation to what the director thought to be the main story or some solitary incidents however interesting they might be.

It's got a nice star-studded cast. Geoffrey Rush is magnificent as Inspector Javert. If I am to stress one aspect of his totally excellent acting it would be his accent. I just loved it. Rush brought that vintage English accent instead of the expected French accent, that's I think became more suitable. Liam Neeson is an acting genius and I would place this one perhaps as his third best, behind "Schindler's List" and "Michael Collins" of course. He is definitely the obvious choice for such type of lead roles. The two main young characters of the film are played nicely by Claire Danes and Hans Matheson. Danes acted up to the standard of this film's allover acting level, which is quite good. Although somehow I feel Uma Thurman is a poor choice for Fantine. Her acting was not up to that level.

There are around 15-odd screen versions of Les Misérables including TV movies etc. The French production of 1982 by Robert Hossein was good and was definitely longer and more detailed than this. Many would disagree but I think this one by Bille August is better than that. Call it vulgar Hollywoodisation of old classics but still it's a worthy film on its own right, perhaps due to superb casting.

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23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

A ROUSING, MOVING CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE

9/10
Author: spencerthetracy
28 June 2001

One could make the snobbish mistake and try to evaluate this movie in comparison to the book, play, or musical. If one were to see the movie as it is, a well acted and directed tale of love, betrayal and passion, then one would NEVER be dissapointed. Liam Neeson IS Jean Valjean, Geoffrey Rush IS the maniacal Javer. Paris IS the city for lovers and broken dreams. This is a movie that sweeps the cobwebs out of your heart and MAKES you feel empathy and warmth for the characters. You want to see them happy and experience some sort of peace in their world. This is a movie that one thinks about for years. A true gem.

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

From the eyes of an innocent.

Author: psyka from Australia
22 August 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've never read the book. I've never seen any other versions. I never knew a thing about, not even how to properly pronounce the title, until I watched this movie. And even then I learnt the pronunciation elsewhere.

So I watched this movie expecting nothing but to finally learn what the often mentioned Les Miserables was all about. I have to say I love this movie, oh how I love this movie. The first time I watched it I was on the verge of tears almost from the start. Halfway through I had to stop the video to have a good cry :P for being reminded what a lowly creature I was and how shamefully I've lead my short life. Whoops, am I getting too personal? Sorry.

I work at a video store and I've lost count of how many times people have looked at the cover of Les Mis, made a face and turned away. How many times I've sadly shaken my head at that... Oh, how much they miss.

With no knowledge of the original story I watched this movie and thought it was absolutely wonderful, beautiful. And after reading the other comments made here I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the book. It sounds like it's so much better than the movie and my mind reels from the idea of that.

Good film. Damn, I would have hated it if it didn't have a happy ending :)

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Abridged yet effective

10/10
Author: Daniel Kincaid from Canada
1 December 2007

The first point that bears emphasis about the 1998 film adaptation of Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables" is that it is highly abridged. Even more abridged than abridged versions of the novel and even more abridged than the story used for the popular musical. Characters such as Éponine and Gavroche are absent from this adaptation. This will offend those looking for a closer adaptation of Hugo's novel, but it does not bother me that this film focuses on the story of Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Cosette and Marius. The basic story for those unfamiliar with it, takes place in 19th century France and follows a poor thief, Jean Valjean, who is relentlessly pursued by Inspector Javert, even after reforming his ways.

Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush are excellent as the reformed and generous ex-convict and his relentless pursuer. The rest of the performances are commendable as well, particularly from Uma Thurman as Fantine, Claire Danes as Cosette and Hans Matheson as Marius. Claire Danes, in addition to giving a solid performance, seems to fit well with the iconic image of Cosette that has come to represent musical productions of the story.

Visually this film is impressive as well with sweeping representations of Paris, Vigo and other locations and appropriate costumes. Basil Poledouris' score was also fitting for the story. The story, though abridged, still effectively gives us the touching tale of the plight of the poor in France, a reformed and ceaselessly generous convict, an overzealous inspector and those around them. I always enjoyed the clash of ideals and cat and mouse game between a reformed criminal and a man who clings to the ideal that no criminal can ever be reformed. This version of "Les Misérables" is recommended for those that are not uncomfortable with heavy abridgements to Hugo's classic novel.

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33 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie

10/10
Author: kk63 from Philadelphia
31 January 2003

This is one of the best movies I have seen so far. Some of the people gave negative comments because the actual book was not fully covered. If you keep the book aside for a while and analyze this movie, it is awesome in each and every aspect.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

good try, but I was disappointed with this version

Author: lschow310
5 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had seen the play and read the book, and became hooked on "Les Mis" for about a year. So when this movie came out, I was looking forward to seeing it.

However, I was disappointed in the changes that was made in this movie.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Marius was not the person who motivated the crowd into action. It was Enjolras.

Cosette did not meet Marius in a protest, but through Eponine.

And Eponine sacrificed herself because of her love of Marius. Where was that in this movie. In fact, where was Eponine--other than as a little girl playing with Azelma? She was an essential character, and she was reduced to a little girl in the background.

Also, when Fantine was sick, what was she doing with no pants on?

Javert did commit suicide, but it was not in front of Valjean. Besides, if Valjean would have witnessed it, he would have jumped into the water to save Javert--even to the threat to his freedom. In the play, Valjean did save Javert in another situation to the threat of his freedom.

And Valjean would NEVER hit Cosette, especially since he's been redeemed and he did take Cosette away from a life of abuse. He loved her. He knew that abusing her was wrong. So he would never have hit her--NO MATTER WHAT!

I know that movie adaptations do make changes from the book, and the play didn't exactly follow the book either, but the spirit and characterization of the play still matched the book. Not so in this adaptation.

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