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"Les misérables"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Les Misérables" More at IMDbPro »"Les misérables" (original title)

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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Better than most...

Author: the-singing-ringing-tree from Melbourne, Australia
9 March 2004

I've seen this version more times than I'd like to admit, and I have to say, that as an introduction to Les Miserables, this film is the most accurate guide you will find if you want to understand the book. Although the character of Eponine isn't as well developed as it should have been, this should not lower people's opinion of the mini-series because unlike other versions, It performs well AS A WHOLE. Gerard Depardieu played a wonderful, emotive Valjean and I found his portrayal to be deep and sincere. Virginie Ledoyen made the character of Cosette seem easily led, air-headed and a little bit stupid. WONDERFUL! It was a refreshing change to see a bit more thought put into Cosette than the usual Waif-Like heroine that is seen in other adaptations. John Malkovich is competent as Javert, but doesn't inject as much feeling into the role as I had expected. In this respect, Geoffrey Rush did a much better job in the 1998 version. The only thing I have found which I have enjoyed more than this mini-series, in regards to consistency with the original book, and character development is the musical, and that's probably because my school is performing it this year....all in all, I would recommend this to anybody who needs some guiding before wading through the book -I know I did!

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A confident and intelligent production.

Author: Stuart Fernie ( from Tain, Scotland
28 January 2001

One of my favourite versions, second only to the 1934 adaptation.

Six hours in length, Depardieu as Valjean, Malkovich as Javert, rich in detail and emotionally engaging - what more can one ask?

As with the 1934 version, this treatment is very full and therefore retains the strength of the original. It contains a number of alterations to the original narrative, but remains faithful to the essence of the characters, though I found Valjean's obsessive behaviour toward Cosette somewhat exaggerated, and too little emphasis laid on his sense of duty, responsibility, and lack of self-esteem, as his motivation.

The direction is crisp, the script intelligent and engaging, and the acting convincing and moving.

Depardieu is an excellent Valjean, articulate and ultimately tragic, while Malkovich is entirely convincing and gives us an unusually "human" Javert. Christian Clavier is splendidly scheming, selfish and low, while Virginie Ledoyen is suitably appealing as Cosette.

This is a confident and intelligent production which is not afraid of its origins.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

The Best English-language version

Author: corey judd ( from New York, New York
16 May 2001

I am American, so unfortunately have only seen the 3 hour English-language version. I am an avid fan of Victor Hugo, who I consider the greatest literary master of all time, and am particularly fond of "Les Miserables", a novel which literally changed my life. I hate the American versions of this story, which completely bastardize this great story, so imagine my delight at finally at long last seeing a version that actually retains the true spirit of the original. John Malcovitch is a wonderful Javert, although I also think Anthony Perkins did a fine job in the 1978 version. The entire cast, though, was uniformly superb, especially Charlotte Gainsburg as the pathetic Fantine, Virginie Ledoyen as both Cosette and narrator, and of course Gerard Depardieu was just perfect as Valjean. It was also a pleasant change to hear mostly French rather than British accents, giving the whole film an authenticity other English-language versions don't have. Please tell me that the complete 6-hour French-language version will be available on DVD soon. This is definately the version I recommend Americans to see.

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19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

AIR IT AGAIN!!! The best telling of the story, next to the musical

Author: Angela Rabatin ( from Perryopolis PA USA
14 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am totally surprised that this movie isn't shown anymore, and also surprised that hardly anyone has reviewed this. This is the best I have ever seen from Depardieu, and Malkovich is almost as good as he was in Shadow of the Vampire. The rest of the cast is wonderful.

In terms of story, it's pretty faithful to the book from what I can tell, but unfortunately they do not really go into detail with Eponine's death, but at least they get Gavroche's death right, unlike the terrible Neeson/Rush version.

Hugo would be proud of this one.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Best Adaptation I Have Seen

Author: Lauren (sailortrinity08) from Virginia, United States
9 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of the movie adaptations I have seen, and I have not seen the 1934 French version, I must admit that this is the best one yet. I thankfully watched the six hour original French miniseries and loved it, despite not being able to understand more than three words every ten minutes. Pity they have yet to subtitle it.

Gerard Depardieu is near perfect for Valjean in stature and voice, albeit I wanted to smack the script writer for deciding he was obsessively in love with Cosette. Christian Clavier was a perfect Thenardier; he was slimy, cruel, and self-serving. My only bone to pick concerning him is the way he was attempting to kill people right and left (Valjean and Marius to be precise) in moments where he wasn't supposed to if we're going by the book. Veronica Ferres was of the perfect build for his wife, but she was just a little too pretty, and attempted to make out with her husband on at least three occasions. Charlotte Gainsbourg was a nice change of pace for Fantine. She was generally very mousy and truthful to the novel, except that despite going to a denture and wig maker, she only sold her hair, not her front incisors like she is supposed to. I must also say that Asia Argento was the spitting image of Eponine, save for that dress of hers, which appeared far too expensive for a dirt poor family, whether or not it was torn in places.

I personally was not happy with John Malkovich's portrayal of Javert. The way he annunciated very slowly and monotonously EVERY SINGLE WORD, made the movie and the dialog drag. Being that I also did not understand exactly what he was saying, it was twice as boring. Enrico Lo Verso was also horribly miscast. He was far too old, and had a rather frightening smile, to say the least. Someone really needed to do something concerning his hair as well.

I also have to comment on Steffen Wink as Enjolras. Though the successive movies seem to move alternately closer and further from the novel's depiction of him. This was perhaps the closest yet, though it still was not truly the character. Wink smiled and laughed way too much, and did not seem totally engaged in and serious about the insurrection. But at least he was blond and believably young-looking this time.

The actual plot of the movie stayed closer to the novel than any of the other movie adaptations I have seen. I was particularly fond of Eponine's death scene. It is definitely worth the $20 you pay on Amazon to get the French version, if only to watch Asia Argento die. It's very dramatic and heart wrenching, and was the only scene in the entire six hours that made me cry. Even in barely being able to understand what she said, I could hear in her (apparently dubbed) voice and see through her expressions that she regretted a great deal of the bad things that she had done. The theme of redemption permeated the scene. The blood effects actually seemed realistic as well.

There were some senseless alterations, however. For one, why was Gavroche living with Marius? And did anyone notice that Gavroche was the same age when Valjean brought little Cosette to Paris as when she was seven or eight years older? And why did we have to change the bead factory to a fabric factory? It's such a USELESS alteration. And why was Fauchelevent fighting with the National Guard when he's supposed to be dead? And why doesn't Mme. Thenardier die in jail like she's supposed to? And why, to be my nit picky purist self, did they build the barricade outside of the Cafe Musain instead of Corinthe? And why, even in a six hour long miniseries with added scenes not in the book, could the screenwriter not find time to put in the end of the barricade scene, Enjolras' death in particular? His character and his death are symbolic and support one of Hugo's major themes in several of his novels: the idea that someday perfection and progress will come, but they cannot happen with the world in its current state. And yet, somehow, in all of the movies, his character plays a very small role. The closest was in the 1958 French version that kept his death scene identical, even if it barely developed his character the rest of the time.

In regards to technical issues, the only one that stood out to me concerned Asia Argento. At first I thought I was imagining it, but the closer I looked, the more I noticed her lips did not sync up with the audio. I suppose she must have been speaking English or Italian and was dubbed in French, but the fact that it was noticeable was very disappointing. As much as I loved her appearance and her acting, perhaps it would have just been better to have a French actress in the role. However, despite the sloppy dubbing job, her dubbed voice was particularly well chosen.

Overall, despite my aforementioned list of annoyances, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I recommend it to anyone who has a thorough knowledge of the story and can deal with not understanding all of the dialog. Otherwise, you might end up very, VERY confused. I know nothing about the English version, but at half the running time, I find it hard to believe it would be nearly as good.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

If I met that Javert I would die of fear.

Author: tuulitex from Estonia
11 December 2006

seriously. Malcovitch's Javert is the creepiest, darkest, truest, most tantalizing Javerts ever on screen. and that's why it was so good. I agree on comments about Eponine's scarce appearance on screen and left-out death scene but.... does that really matter. Javert was the best character in the book, the rivalry and chase between him and Valjean is the key thing. I mean, if I ever dared to direct (a completely amateur version ) of Les Miserables, I would concentrate most effort on finding a perfect Javert. that's that. I sorta disliked some surroundings. even the war scenes and sets seemed just way too clean somehow. and especially Seine, oh come on, there should be bodies floating in it, garbage, dead rats and stuff, instead Javert seems to be walking into unused mud bath water. there was a lot more ugliness in the book's France. but I can still never forget this series.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Good adaptation, but cut short... Spoilers ahead

Author: Daniel Crowley from United States
12 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After hearing several rave reviews of this movie, I was anxious to get my hands on a copy. When I finally did, I must say my reaction was two-fold. Overall, I was impressed with this film and it is the best version of the story I have seen yet. The film its self is beautiful. The costumes and scenery are authentic and lovely, the music fits the mood, and the script was well written. I must admit I have to question some of the casting decisions. While I admire John Malkovich, I found his Javert a bit subdued. He acts like he has just taken a Valium and is sleep walking through his part. The actor playing Marius is wrong on so many levels. His appearance and acting are a bit on the creepy side. The female characters fare a little better. The usually forgotten character of Eponine is returned and played by Asia Argento. Argento plays the part true to Hugo's description. I felt both pity and contempt for her. The real jewel of this film however lies in Charlotte Gainsbourg's Fantine. Her portrayal as a soft spoken, fragile waif who is destroyed by the world around nearly moved me to tears ( I am rarely moved enough to cry). Depardieu's Valjean was credible; he was not my favorite Valjean, but he did fine. Unfortunately for me, the only adaptation that I was able to get my hands on was the very edited English language version. Some of the scenes they choose to leave out were important to the plot. I was especially angry at the fact that they left out the death of Eponine. Without her heroic death, the audience is left thinking Eponine was a villain, rather than a product of her environment, but good none-the-less. Also missing is Enjorlas's death which is another tragic moment in the novel. The way I see it, this film could have been the definitive version to me if only the English adaptation could have been about an hour longer and tied up some of the loose ends. The French version of this same film is unedited (and unsubtitled, alas), so I think I would suggest that one before this version.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

the best adaptation

Author: hugobolso-1 from Uruguay
7 October 2003

This is the best adaptation of the novel, isn't perfect, but is far superior to the version I'll have previouly seen, with a nice cast. It could be perfect but have two failures 1) Miscast: Enrico Lo Verso is too old for being Marious, who was an ideal student, who suffered all the third and fourth book. He isn't naive. The seccond miscast is that Mrs Thenadier is too pretty, but it's irrelevant. 2) The seccond thing that I don't like it, is that in the last page Jean Veljean said to Cossette her mother name, in the miniseries, it's told in the middle.

In facts is an excellent mini, the best screenplay, nice script, superb cast, but with a big miscast in Loverso who isn't the naive, idealistic and insugure Marious.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

An enjoyable, honest and serious series

Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
22 March 2005

I'm not a big fan of costume drama's and the actor Gérard Depardieu. Normally that should have been enough reasons for me not to watch this series. On the other hand, the novel is a classic in literature and this time it isn't the tale of some rich princesses who have broken a finger nail and want to commit suicide because of that. This is about ordinary people and their efforts to survive and to make the best out of their miserable situations. Anyway, I decided to give this series a chance and I'm glad that I did, because it was a lot better than I ever expected.

It tells the story of Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food and who is now released after serving nineteen years in a labor camp. At first he's avoided by everybody, because he once was in jail, but than he meets Bishop Bienvenu, who gives him shelter for the night and something to eat without asking something in return. The bishop's compassion and humanity restore Jean Valjean's faith in the goodness of people and helps him to go back to an orderly life. He changes his name to Monsieur Madeleine and soon becomes a wealthy industrialist who's a popular citizen. He even becomes the mayor of the small provincial town where he lives. In the meantime he has also met one of his workers, Fantine, who was fired from his factory because she had a child. He saves Fantine's daughter out of the hands of a mean family and raises her like his own daughter. But not everybody believes he is such a good, loving and caring man. Javert is a police officer who has made of hunting Valjean like a wild animal his main occupation. He's convinced that every man who once was a criminal, will always be a criminal and he'll do anything to get him behind bars again...

This series should not only be seen by the people who once read the book or saw the musical. I haven't read the book and I didn't see the musical either, but I certainly could enjoy this series. I guess everybody who has at least a bit of interest the hardness of 19th-century life for the ordinary people will enjoy this. Another reason why you could enjoy it is because of the good and convincing acting by all the characters. As I already said before in this review, I'm not a fan of Depardieu, but it has to be said: He was very convincing in his role as Jean Valjean.

All in all this is an enjoyable, honest and serious series that is worth watching when you are interested in the story. Personally I liked what I saw and that's why I give this series a 7.5/10.

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17 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Faithful to the novel?

Author: CarmelaG
26 January 2003

I have read this novel several times and I was stunned that some of you found this a faithful version. I am referring to the miniseries that aired in the US with Depardieu and Malkovich. Maybe the French version - twice as long? - is more true to the novel, but the version we saw here was shockingly distorted.

Yes - all of the characters were there, but their roles were often twisted beyond recognition. One GLARING example: Eponine. If you have read the novel, you know that she is one of the most heroic characters, sacrificing herself for Marius. Did I miss something here? They turn her into one of the villains. Gavroche's role is also misrepresented. If they were going to take all that time, why not do it as Hugo wrote it? It is also very odd to make Cosette the narrator, as she is deliberately one of the weaker, more insipid characters in the novel. And Valjean was never in love with Cosette. He is genuinely an adoptive father.

Depardieu is beautifully cast as Valjean, but John Malkovich (I'm a fan, too) plays Javert as if he were simply mean - with none of the nuances of the tortured character that Geoffrey Rush portrays. The 1998 Bille August film is by far the superior interpretation, despite what he leaves out. And the musical theater version is the best of all, faithful to both the plot and spirit of Hugo's masterpiece.

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