Jean Valjean, a Frenchman imprisoned for stealing bread, must flee a police officer named Javert. The pursuit consumes both men's lives, and soon Valjean finds himself in the midst of the student revolutions in France.Written by
Tim Kearns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The town in which Jean Valjean becomes mayor is named Montreuil-sur-Mer in the book. This is a real port town in the region of Calais, across the waters from England. English readers of the book often missed this fact, as most past translations transcribed the town's name "blanked out" as "M____-sur-M__". In the movie the town is called Vigau, a name made up of the first and last syllables of Victor Hugo, the author of Les Misérables. See more »
During the revolution, several shots show the Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague. See more »
[Valjean is being taken away]
This is right, my dear. I stole something, I did. I stole happiness with you. I don't mind paying.
See more »
The cast is credited in alphabetical order during the end credits. See more »
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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