Les Miserables (1978 TV Movie)
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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".
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.
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.
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")
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.
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
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.
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.
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.