Les Miserables (Part I) (1909) Poster

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Hugo's characters seem to be actually living their various lives before one
deickemeyer29 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
An interpretation of a scene from "Les Miserables." It is the one where Jean Valjean is taken into his home by the Bishop, and rewards the good man by stealing his silver, and when the gendarmes arrest him and bring him back to the Bishop's home he is presented with the candlesticks and allowed to go, with the injunction that he must do good and not evil henceforth, for his soul has been bought for God. The principal character, Jean Valjean, is admirably acted and correctly follows the story even in the minute details, with the exception that Hugo sends him out of a window, while the film producer has him go out through a door. The general makeup, the acting and all the minor accessories proclaim the leading actor to be what his passport says he is, a galley slave and a dangerous man, and when he raises his iron bar over the head of the sleeping Bishop it seems highly probable that he will strike, if the slumberer is so unfortunate as to rouse from his sleep. The acting is all so vivid and follows the story so faithfully that Hugo's characters seem to be actually living their various lives before one. From the stealing of the loaf for which he was sentenced to the galleys for nineteen years, to the time when he leaves the Bishop's presence scarcely comprehending what has occurred, there is something about the character which appeals to one and which makes it seem real and sincere. It seems a correct interpretation of what Hugo meant, and it increases one's interest in the book itself. While there is always danger in reproducing anything of this kind that many in the audience have not read the book, there is, on the other hand, a possibility that interest will be aroused which will cause those who see the picture to read the book and thus become acquainted with one of the masterpieces of literature. In this particular picture the staging could not be better since it follows the book itself. The costuming is a feature worth attention, and unquestionably it is as accurate as it can be made. The acting is in harmony with the subject and follows the book closely. The picture is one of the best from the Vitagraph studio and is well worth seeing, not only by those who are fond of motion pictures, but those who are fond of good drama as well. - The Moving Picture World, September 18, 1909
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