A freak show performer's life is turned upside down when he is discovered to be the missing son of a disgraced noble.


Jean-Pierre Améris (scenario & adaptation), Victor Hugo (novel) | 1 more credit »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérard Depardieu ... Ursus
Marc-André Grondin ... Gwynplaine
Emmanuelle Seigner ... La duchesse Josiane
Christa Théret ... Déa
Arben Bajraktaraj ... Hardquanone
Serge Merlin Serge Merlin ... Barkilphedro
Christèle Tual Christèle Tual ... Clémence
Swann Arlaud ... Sylvain
Romain Morelli Romain Morelli ... Gwynplaine enfant
Fanie Zanini Fanie Zanini ... Déa enfant
Vincent de Bouard Vincent de Bouard ... Le magistrat
Pascal Ternisien Pascal Ternisien ... Le valet de Clancharlie
Jan Hnilicka Jan Hnilicka ... Le valet de la duchesse
Ludmila Safárová Ludmila Safárová ... La fermière
Markéta Hrubesová ... La jolie paysanne


A freak show performer's life is turned upside down when he is discovered to be the missing son of a disgraced noble.

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Plot Keywords:

suicide | letter | palace | queen | noble | See All (22) »




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Did You Know?


Given the setting of the mid 1700s, it is extremely unlikely that milk was purchased in glass bottles, or that fairground performers would have access to drinking vessels made of glass. See more »


Version of The Man Who Laughs (1921) See more »


Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Written and performed by Arvo Pärt
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User Reviews

A dramatic modern take of the Victor Hugo classic.
22 March 2013 | by palex8802See all my reviews

This was a remarkable and truly moving cinema experience,a heartfelt adaption of a Victor Hugo story,.Covering the full gamut of the emotional spectrum,pain,loss,abandonment,identity,loyalty,betrayal and love.Stunning performances by all the cast,in particular the two young leads who brought this reviewer to tears with their honest raw performance,lacking in histrionics, and completely devoid of cinema clichés.A truly worthy addition to the long tradition of cinema adaptations of Hugo novels. .This is the archetypal morality play with a sting in its tail,highly recommended. A noteworthy performance by Depardieu who for a change is not sleep-walking or phoning in his performance this time round ,and you sense his love of,and total involvement in this beguiling story full of magic realism touches by the director.5stars. This to me was the highlight of the French Film Festival and I look forward to other works by this director,his staging,the direction of the actors and the sensitive handling of this complex story was flawless.A thoroughly engaging cinema experience that transports you to another world yet anchors you in the harsh reality of the main protagonist and his struggle for identity and respect from his peers.Also the story touches on the search for love by all of us.It asks us the question what is truly ugly and what is beautiful both within and without.

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France | Czech Republic



Release Date:

26 December 2012 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Człowiek śmiechu See more »

Filming Locations:

Chotesov, Czech Republic See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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