Les Miserables (TV Movie 1978) Poster

(1978 TV Movie)

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10/10
My favorite movie
mikebull8 September 2005
This is my favorite version of all the movies. Very good! Anthony Perkins is wonderful as the obsessed policeman and Richard Jordan seems as thought this part were written just for him. This version focuses more on Jean Valjean than his daughter which I personally liked. This version covers most of what the musical just blows through. The Version with Liam Nieson focuses more on the relationship with Jean Valjean and his daughter Cosette. This is a movie worth watching over and over again, however, you need to give it your full attention or you won't like it. It is sad in parts but shows what can happen to a person who is determined to succeed. A great rags to riches story.
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10/10
THE BEST VERSION OF THIS MUCH LOVED CLASSIC
Kim-6816 February 1999
This is the best version of this classic by far. Richard Jordan gives one of his best performances as Jean Valjean. His scenes in the prison are heartrending. And he certainly knows how to draw you in and make you feel a part of it all, you can feel his suffering, his pain and the scene with the priest as he turns himself around is heartfelt and dramatic, he is definitely by far one of the best character actors that ever was. Anthony Perkins is great as Javert, cold, grim and unforgiving and the two of them together, they are great. Angela Pleasence gives a great performance as Fantine and of course John Gielgud, what can you say about someone that is a living legend, because you know whatever he does you know it will be outstanding. So I would highly recommend this one to anyone that loves the classics and not the version that just came out last year, to think they would try to do this classic again where there was already an outstanding version of this story once before was outrageous.
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10/10
On par with the novel - my highest praise
jj-4624 February 2002
Les Miserables is one of the greatest novels ever written. As many of you will agree, it is very rare for a movie to approach a novel in quality. This is one of the exceptions. There are many versions of this film - if you have to choose one, choose this one. Fantastic acting. Perkins is exceptional as Javert, and Richard Jordan has never given a greater performance as Jean Valjean. Watch this film - you will thank yourself for it.
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Well done for its time
bmccoy-38 October 2003
I saw this version of the story many many years ago and loved it. I still have never seen the musical nor the new film. I watched this version again recently for the first time in many years and while it suffered slightly from the usual low budget aspects of a lot of TV movies, the acting was excellent and Tony Perkins was absolutely amazing as Javert. My 15 year old son had never seen any version of the story and watched it with me and he was mezmerized by the film and loved every minute of it (this from a kid who can't sit still for 5 minutes unless there are explosions and robots and blood and guts everywhere).

BTW, the bright-eyed young Marius who resembles an older Elijah Wood was played by Christopher Guard, who was Frodo in Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings".
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7/10
An interesting adaption
chl-63 March 2000
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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Difinitive portrayals of the leading characters
GoonerMan29 December 2000
This is a great story and for me this is the best screen adaptation of it. Although Geoffrey Rush puts in a decent performance in the newer film release (1998), Anthony Perkins' Javert simply cannot be bettered with his steely, cold personality and determination. Jordon also does well with the Valjean character, emitting a personality of pride and restraint in the face of adversity. The story moves on at a decent pace and provides good characterisation without too much lagging.

Overall this is a fine production and I personally find it vastly superior to the latest film incarnation with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush where I didn't particularly like either of the portrayals of the leading characters, even though they were well-acted. This version may have the obligatory TV Movie feel to it, but it still manages to rise above its Big-screen counterpart.
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8/10
One of the Saddest Stories of Injustice and Obsession
Claudio Carvalho17 January 2016
In the Eighteenth Century in France, the unemployed woodman Jean Valjean (Richard Jordan) is arrested for stealing a bread to feed his family and sentenced to five years in prison in Toulon. He tries to escape from prison due to the mistreatment of cruel Javert (Anthony Perkins), increasing his sentence. Nineteen years later he succeeds to escape and is helped by the kind Bishop Myriel (Claude Dauphin) that feeds and shelters him. However he steals his silverware in the dawn but he is arrested by two policemen and brought back to the bishop. The bishop tells that the silver objects were a gift and gives two additional candlesticks to Valjean. When the policemen leave the place, the bishop tells that he has bought his soul and now he should live an honest life.

Jean Valjean becomes a well-succeeded businessman with the alias Madeleine bringing prosperity to a small town producing black beads that he had learnt in the prison and then the becomes the major. His life changes when Javert is assigned the chief of police of his town. Javert arrests the beggar Fantine (Angela Pleasence) accused of prostitution but Madeleine asks him to release her and brings her home. He learns that she sends money to a couple to raise her daughter Cosette. Meanwhile Javert travels to Paris to denounce Madeleine, but he learns that Jean Valjean is arrested. But Madeleine confesses the truth to the court and releases the man. Now Javert will take him back to Toulon. What will Jean Valjean do?

"Les Miserables" is one of the saddest stories of injustice and obsession ever. The Victor Hugo's novel is a touching extensive novel and should be mandatory its reading for teenagers. This excellent film omits many details but it is very faithful to the novel as a whole. Maybe it is the best version ever made. Anthony Perkins is fantastic in the role of Javert and Richard Jordan has a great performance in the lead role of Jean Valjean. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Os Miseráveis" "The Miserables")
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Memorable!
gee-1515 February 2000
I saw this version of Les Miserables when it first aired. I was eleven or twelve at the time and I think my parents made me watch it with them. I expected to be utterly bored and ended up being utterly transfixed, even at that young age, by the powerful story. Even though it's been years since I've seen "Les Miserables" there are scenes from this movie that still stand out in my mind. Highly recommended.
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10/10
A Moral Masterpiece by Victor Hugo
Umar Mansoor Bajwa8 September 2007
This TV serial adaptation with Richard Jordan as the protagonist rises above the earlier version of 1952 and the latest release, as well.

The great novel by Victor Hugo corresponding to the tumultuous times of the French Revolution, serves to underline the starkly moribund consequences that directly result when there exists a colossal disparity of moral and economic values between the privileged class and the commoners. The screenplay is vivid and emotional outpourings are soul wrenching, but above all, it is Richard Jordan as Jean Valjean who has portrayed the patriarchal and lofty character created by Hugo to its complete magnitude. The story is bred with great upheavals of the turbulent revolutionary era which add epic dimensions to this memorable novel.

The novel is the crowning glory of Victor Hugo and the TV serial adaptation is the highest mark of Jordan's career who steals the show, many a times by his smoldering performance, while leaving Perkins (Javert) far behind.
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Only The Best Version there is!
TessDCat8 May 1999
I have the new version (with Liam Neeson as Valjean) and it was pathetic, and almost blasphemous to Hugo's great book, if compared to this one. This one of John Gay is THE best adaptation. Richard Jordan also did perfectly to give life to Valjean, you can feel the misery and redemption of Hugo's Jean Valjean. Perkins was also perfect for the tough-principled sinister and cold Javert. If you have seen the new version and not this one, you've been cheated.
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10/10
One of Richard Jordan's best performances
Kim-6812 February 1999
One of Richard Jordan's best performances. He put his all into this role. He really knows how to get to the heart of you. Especially the prison scenes, those are very dramatic and you can see how Valjean suffered just by watching Jordan. He brought this character to life. Anthony Perkins is also does a great job portraying Javert, cold and grim. This is definitely the best version.
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10/10
Fantastic!
Firedoomcaster10 January 2008
I saw this movie only 10 minutes ago. Someone lent the DVD to me when she saw that I liked Les Mis. I was amazed by it! I have always loved the Character of Javert and Anthony Perkins gives an excellent performance. One of the best I have ever seen! I am currently reading the book and he looks exactly as I imagined Javert to look, especially in the navy/black costume, top hat and cane. I love some of the humor added to the movie, especially the grave digger scene. Richard Jordan in the role of Jean Valjean evoked great sympathy for the character and becomes a hero that anyone would want to cheer on. I don't want to say any more as I could give away the plot.
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10/10
A Great Tribute to a Literary Classic
calypso-1028 October 1999
Very few classics make it to the big screen with the same penmanship that made them classics in the first place. Glenn Jordan and John Gays sure does! Superb acting on the part every actor and actress. I just watched it for the first time in twenty years and I'm amazed at how well it was really done. Tony Perkins gives one of his very best performances. Very realistic in every way. Too bad this picture had a very limited release(TV). If this classic is still required reading then this picture should surely be required 'watching'. Good ole Victor Hugo would be quite proud of it I'm sure...............
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10/10
a very entertaining piece
glenxxvi17 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
i first saw this in about 1999 and i thought i was brilliant. i have never read the novel and i haven't seen any other film adaptations but this one is good enough for me. i might watch some other film versions of this in the future just to see how they compare but i think this is really good.

FIRST - it doesn't rush into things. it takes it's time to explain why valjean was placed in prison and leads us up to the events to follow TWO - all of the actors are very good, especially the leads, Richard Jordan is superb as Valjean and Anthony Perkins is excellent as Inspector Javert, a very tenacious character who has nothing on his mind but the apprehension of Vajean, so much so he even argues with officers above him to stay on his case.

THREE - it's a good chase movie. Every now and then through the film Valjean's freedom is threatened and the viewer has the sense that he may be captured at any time. this effect tends to wear off on repeat viewings but when you see this for the first time it is very suspenseful. this film may be nearly two and a half hours but it isn't boring at all.

FOUR - very realistic. i like the way this handles the time periods, not only can you watch the main story and enjoy it but you can get a sense of how things were in the late 18th and early 19th century. in today's terms there was nothing, no cars, no TV or radio, no computers and you get a sense that if you were living in that time period it would be very boring indeed.

FIVE - this is so good you don't want it to end. this may sound weird to some but the first time i watched it and i saw the credits coming up i thought, 'is that it?' i didn't realise that it's two hour and 17 minute running time was up, i was so engrossed with it, i realise that javert was dead and so valjean's apprehension was no longer imminent, however, i just feel that it could have gone on a few more years and have him into a few other adventures, perhaps until his death almost.

if you haven't seen this, then do so. this gets 10/10
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Reading now, this one is more to the story
drkriley7 October 2004
I just watched a portion of the 1998 video and thought "I don't remember it being with Liam Neeson, since Jean Valjean isn't white-haired after the trial of Champmathieu. And now I found that yes this version is the one I remembered before...which was EXTREMELY fascinating the first time I saw it...which is why I am now reading the book...both movie versions are good, but the 1978 one is better...I need to see it again to compare more accurately with the characters of Cossette and Fantine...the 1998 version is not satisfying about Cosette being a selfish little child in the escape from Javert, nor as a spoiled teen in Paris, ...but I haven't read far enough to make greater comment...KJR
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Still moving after all these years....
ZR RIFLE19 April 2002
I saw this when it was originally telecast in the late 70s on TV as an Hallmark special presentation, and I never forgot it. What a relief to find it's available on video. However, I'm disappointed that the available VHS version has been cut down to 2 hours – the original telecast on TV divided it into 2 showings (2 consecutive evenings), about 3 hours apiece, if I remember right. Not including commercials, I would estimate the original (uncut) version was about 4-5 hours. So, in the VHS version, the story moves VERY fast to squeeze it into 2 hours. Still great to watch, but again, it's very trimmed down and every scene moves very quickly. It would be great in the future if it would become available in the original uncut version on DVD or a 2 or 3-set VHS version.

After reading all the comments about the newer Liam Neeson version, I'm not interested in seeing that one at all. Who cares about "action & special effects," when all you need is great writing and great actors to carry the movie? If action & special effects is what you're after, watch Die Hard or Terminator 2, not this.
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Truest to the Book, But Not Recommended
This was the truest adaption from the book to screen that I have seen, but the character of Eponine is missing. (You do see a very short clip of Eponine as a young girl, but that is not when she has a crucial part to play in this story.) Yes, it is managed fine without her, but her character adds more drama to the movie, and makes the movie better. While the movie was true to the book, I found it quite like a fan fiction that is true to the book itself. There were several mis-pronunciations, Marius was once called "Mario," Cosette wore a dress almost identical to a dress that Young Eponine wore at the beginning of the movie, and some of the filming techniques were quite odd. (For example, Javert appearing to do a flip while he falls into the Seine.) I also felt that it was unnecessary to spend so much time while Valjean is at Toulon. If you are interested in seeing a Les Mis movie, I would not recommend this; I would recommend first the 1935, and then the 1998.
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A cracking story superbly told.
Hotwok20138 June 2013
Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" is widely regarded as one of the greatest books of the 19th century. The reasons why literary critics consider it so is because the sprawling story covers a huge number of themes. Mans inhumanity to man, faith, redemption & just about every facet of human nature both good & evil. This 1978 television adaptation of the book is, for my money, the best. The central character is Jean Valjean who is superbly played by Richard Jordan. He is originally sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. His sentence is increased to life after several escape attempts. After serving 19 years he does succeed in escaping. Anthony Perkins is fantastic playing first a senior prison officer at Toulon where Valjean is incarcerated & later the cold-hearted policeman Inspector Javert. It was Alfred Hitchcock who cast him as Norman Bates in "Psycho" after he noted his ability to look shifty & suspicious as an actor. Those same acting qualities make him perfectly cast as Javert. He is not really evil but rather just ruthless about carrying out what he considers to be his duty. There are many overly-officious people like him around today usually referred to as "jobsworths". Really evil people are represented by the Thenardiers who maltreat a young girl Cosette put in their care by her poor prostitute mother Fantine, played by Angela Pleasance. She could hardly have chosen a worse couple.They eventually sell her off to Valjean after he changes his name to Mr Madeleine following his prison escape. He makes a solemn promise to her dying mother to take care of her daughter Cosette. She is not a prostitute out of choice, as the author makes clear, but because she is so poor & desperate she has nothing else to sell but her body. The Thenardiers realise how much Mr. Madeleine wants to take charge of Cosette & feigning their love & affection for her exact a huge price. The story is full of memorable characters like the kindly bishop Myriel who "buys" his soul after Valjean had escaped from prison & stole some of his silverware. After Valjean is caught he is taken back by soldiers under armed guard to the bishop who claims he gave them to him as a gift. He then gives him his two silver candlesticks telling him he forgot to take those as well. Valjean is deeply moved & from that moment becomes a changed man who resolves to do good in the world. He will treasure the candlesticks for the rest of his life as symbolic of his new-found faith in god. After changing his name to Mr. Madeleine, he becomes a successful respectable businessman in a small town. Javert later accepts a post as chief of police there. After witnessing an accident he sees Mr. Madeleine perform a feat of strength to free a man trapped under a wheel. He remembers that Valjean in Toulon prison had also shown great strength in releasing a man after a huge rock had fallen on him. He has noticed the similarity in looks between Mr Madeleine & Jean Valjean and begins to think that they may be one & the same person. The street-urchin boy Gavroche, a son of the Thenardiers, is another memorable character & a good sort. After an uprising in Paris he is killed by troops whilst bravely running around collecting ammunition from the dead bodies of some of the rioters for the use of those still fighting. Presumably, Victor Hugo is making a point that evil parents do not necessarily produce evil offspring. A great book was made into a great TV movie & I would recommend it to anyone.
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8/10
Damned good if you haven't read the book
ParanoiaPoliticianDiva773 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very good adaption of Les Miserables, but only as a stand alone. I have both read the novel and am a great fan of the Schonberg stage musical. And while watching this I could not help but search for the missing Thenardiers, who appear for one measly minute, the tragic Eponine, the evil and yet wonderful Patron-Minette, the story of Monsieur Tholomyes and Fantine. All of this was left out and though this was fabulous by itself, I could not help but notice the absence. However, Perkins' Javert was truly amazing; he embodied the character and his principles perfectly, the way you could sense his feeling of duty but the scrupulous way he watched Valjean/Madeline and noted the similarities between prisoner and mayor. You could sense his utter confusion after running off in the sewers, and you knew what he was thinking though he did not say another word, throwing himself into the Seine. You understood his character perfectly without him having to necessarily voice his thoughts; his ideal that he was put on earth to serve the law was characterised perfectly. Valjean was portrayed well by Richard Jordan, but the character simply wasn't likable, you sympathised with him in prison, you smiled at his triumphs as Mayor, you understood the various predicaments he faces, but you couldn't bring yourself to like him. The character of Fantine, originally a character of pure tragedy, a symbol of the les Miserables, was reduced significantly. You knew nothing of her past life, her former beauty, her former purity, all you knew was the basics about her and Cosette. This simply was not enough. Marius and Cosette were quite true to the book, their meeting different but with the same meaning behind it. Marius was not explained enough, probably why I liked him (the Original Novel Marius needs to be killed with spoons) and Cosette was sweet enough. The merely was too much of Valjean and Javert (there was more detail of their past than Hugo included-that is truly saying something) and not enough of the rest of Hugo's masterpiece. As a stand alone? 9/10. But in comparison to the original novel? 5/10. So I'll go 50/50 and give it a 7 cause I'm nice.
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10/10
My favorite
Chris Jc7 December 2016
Will read the whole novel soon, but after checking more than 1 movie adaptations of les miserables, I dare say 1978 succeeded to draw the characters in the way meant by the director and created an aura of heroism, integrity and sweetness around the main character (Jean Valjean). On the other hand, this movie satanized Javert as a contrary to the goodness of Valjean, but it wasn't just that, he was pictured as someone who was destroyed from inside and deeply wounded from his past and how he was born and lived as a child; although he haunted Valjeab's life all along the movie, he was shocked by how good and chivalrous Valjean was when he could have killed him but decided to set him free instead, he probably felt too small and trivial in front of Valjean's strength. The scene of Valjean carrying Marius fainting on his shoulder after fighting against the troops is just amazing, a man as old as Valjean at this point if the plot carrying a young man on his shoulder all along a ditch to keep him safe, a memorable scene!
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10/10
My favorite
Chris Jc7 December 2016
Will read the whole novel soon, but after checking more than 1 movie adaptation of les miserables, I dare say 1978 succeeded to draw the characters in the way meant by the director and created an aura of heroism, integrity and sweetness around the main character (Jean Valjean). On the other hand, this movie demonized Javert as a contrary to the goodness of Valjean, but it wasn't just that, he was pictured as someone who was destroyed from inside and deeply wounded from his past and how he was born and lived as a child; although he haunted Valjean's life all along the movie, he was shocked by how good and chivalrous Valjean was when he could have killed him but decided to set him free instead, he probably felt too small and trivial in front of Valjean's strength. The scene of Valjean carrying Marius fainting on his shoulder after fighting against the troops is just amazing, a man as old as Valjean at this point of the plot carrying a young man on his shoulder all along a ditch to keep him safe, a memorable scene!
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useful
Kirpianuscus26 November 2016
each adaptation is a new lecture of book. and revelation. the revelation of this Les Miserables remains Richard Jordan. at first sigh, he does a great job. at the second , he creates a character who use the traits of Jean Valjean to remind the values of a profound metamorphosis. because the lead character of the novel is the bishop Myriel. he is the maker of the war new rules between Valjean and Javert. and Claude Dauphin has the science to give the precise portrait of the noble priest. Anthony Perkins choose a frozen Javert. not a bad idea but the character remains, in many scenes, only a sketch. the film has the virtue to be a nice introduction before reading of book. and this does it real good.
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9/10
Better than it looks
elzicsfarewell21 February 2013
This suffers because it was made for television in the 1970's and looks cheap by modern standards. Don't be put off: This is the version that is most true to the spirit and message of the book. It's not a romance; Hugo did not intend to write a love story, no matter how badly Hollywood wishes it were so.

The incident with the clergyman is supremely important and Hollywood destroyed it by making Valjean into a desperate, fugitive, thug. All the other versions of this might be prettier, but they got it wrong.

Also: You will never beat Anthony Perkins for silent, soul-gnawing, desperation. It just can't be done.
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9/10
Unfortunately, it's been truncated but it's still excellent.
MartinHafer6 May 2012
I saw this television version of the Victor Hugo classic when I was a teen. I was so impressed by it that I then read the book. Years later, I saw the play (second row, center) and have seen several other movie versions--including the very long French version from the 1930s. So, it can be said that I am a HUGE fan of this story. Now, decades later, I wanted to finally re-watch my first experience with "Les Miserables" to see if it was as good as I remembered it.

The made for TV movie stars Richard Jordan as Jean Valjean and Anthony Perkins as the incredibly dogged Inspector Javert. Originally, the film was a two-part mini-series but somehow over the years it has been spliced town to about two hours--which is a real shame. The cuts are not terrible but tend to make the film a bit more episodic than it should be--especially since "Les Miserables" was a very lengthy novel. I won't discuss the plot, as most out there are familiar with the story and others have already discussed it in their reviews. Overall, the film is quite good--with exquisite music and acting. My only complaints are minor. There were some changes in the original story (I am a purist and always want stories to stick to the book)--such as having Valjean being an escaped prisoner instead of being a parolee who 'jumped parole' (a minor difference) as well as a few missing subplots. But for a made for TV film, it's exquisite--such as the adaptations of the Dumas novels starring Richard Chamberlain or "The Scarlet Pimpernel" with Anthony Andrews. It's a darn shame that American television isn't making films like this any more. With the abundance of reality TV programming and other mind-rot, we are a poorer society as a result. Well worth seeing--but try to read the book, it is magnificent.
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8/10
Nice adaptation.
Dave from Ottawa13 April 2012
Perhaps more watchable than the better known recent version with Liam Neeson, this made for TV adaptation of Hugo's classic novel makes for interesting viewing. Those familiar with the musical will note that many episodes not used for set pieces in that adaptation are here, with the effect that this plays like a slightly different story. The emphasis here is on forward story momentum rather than moments of high drama, and the cat-and-mouse story of Javert's pursuit of Valjean moves along at a fair clip. The period look is less lush than in the more recent version, but convincing and appropriate on its own, and the performances of Richard Jordan as the harried Valjean who wants only to do good, and of Anthony Perkins as the relentless and uncompromising Javert are spot on. Les Miz is a great story that can be effectively adapted any number of ways and the choices made here were good ones.
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