The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving ...
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The students face heavy casualties at their barricade. Valjean manages to carry away an unconscious Marius through the sewers. At the end of them, he finds Javert waiting for him. Unexpectedly, the ...
The year is 1816, and Napoleon, held prisoner by the British on the island of St. Helena, is telling the young English girl Betsy his life story. His meteoric rise to military prominence ... See full summary »
The lives of numerous people over the course of 20 years in 19th century France, weaved together by the story of an ex-convict named Jean Valjean on the run from an obsessive police inspector, who pursues him for only a minor offense.
Jean Valjean, pursued through the years for a minor infraction by the implacable policeman Javert, attempts to create a life for himself and for his adopted daughter Cosette amid the ... See full summary »
Honoré de Balzac was a man who lived to write. His life was a hard, permanent struggle, from his cold relationship with his mother who was unable to give him the love he needed, to his ... See full summary »
The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving nineteen years. At first he only encounter mistrust and closed doors; only the saintly Bishop Bienvenu treats him kindly and takes him in. The bishop's truly Christian compassion and humanity not only restores Jean Valjean's faith in the good, but also smoothes his way back to an orderly life. As Monsieur Madeleine, Valjean is soon a wealthy industrialist and popular citizen, even becoming the mayor of a small provincial town. His good fortune departs, however, when he meets Fantine, one of his workers, an unmarried mother who tragically dies of consumption. The well-intentioned Valjean frees Fantine's illegitimate daughter Cosette from the clutches of her insidious foster parents, and looks after her like a father. When Valjean reveals his true identity in order to prevent an innocent man who closely ...Written by
John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu had already previously played together as the main characters of the adaptation of a french novel: in 1998, they both played respectively as Athos and Porthos in the Man in the Iron Mask. See more »
Two versions were shot: one in French for Europe which runs 360 Minutes. The other was shot in English and runs 180 Minutes. See more »
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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