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
Frenchman Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson), imprisoned for stealing bread, is
paroled after nearly two decades of hard labor. A gift of silver
candlesticks from a kindly priest helps him begin anew. Forging a
decent and profitable existence, he finds success as a businessman and
as the mayor of a small town. He even takes in a pregnant young woman
(Uma Thurman) and raises her daughter as his own. When a former prison
guard (Geoffrey Rush) recognizes Valjean, his past catches up to him.
Director Bille August culls mesmerizing performances from his cast, but
loses us with an ending that panders to teen audiences. The focus
shifts dramatically, and uncomfortably, from the haunted Neeson and his
hawk-like pursuer, to his daughter (Claire Danes) and her romance with
a handsome revolutionary. After this narrative shift, the script leaves
behind the Victor Hugo classic's themes of revenge and redemption to
focus improbably on teen angst--hardly what Hugo had on his mind. --Rochelle O'Gorman
What do customers ultimately buy after viewing items like this?
Les Misérables - 1998 film version - formal review
newest film version of Les Misérables presents this classic story as
the grand sweeping epic that it is, yet diverges from the original
story, leaving much to be desired. Fans of Victor Hugo's beloved novel,
published in 1862, and of the popular musical, produced in 1985, may be
disappointed in this movie's truncated version of the story. However,
the film manages to keep intact the main themes of Hugo's story of
love, mercy, and redemption.
As a movie in its own right, this
film deserves the highest praise. As historical drama it is of the
highest quality. The movie portrays Jean Valjean as a true hero, a
person whom we can admire because of his courage and self-sacrificing
commitment to godly principle. The acting is excellent -- Liam Neeson
and Geoffrey Rush star as Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, and both
simply become their characters. Uma Thurman gives an exceptional
performance as Fantine. The soundtrack for the film is beautiful as
However, this movie cannot be evaluated separately from the
novel and musical (which follows the novel quite closely and has gained
a wide following of devoted fans). In terms of faithfulness to the
original story, the film falls short. The first half of the movie
follows the novel quite well; much of the screenplay is taken almost
directly from the book, and no important characters or events are
removed. Unfortunately, however, the first half of the movie covers
less than one third of the story. In the second half, the movie
diverges widely from the original. Enthusiasts of the musical and novel
will be disappointed to see that two important characters from the
Paris setting, Enjolras and Eponine -- both of whom are popular
favorites among fans -- are completely eliminated from the film, their
roles given to other characters or deleted altogether. The second half
of the film is mercilessly truncated and adapted.
portrayal of Cosette as a rather spoiled young woman who is always
ready to pout if she doesn't get her way is inconsistent with the sweet
and oblivious Cosette of Hugo's novel. The character of Javert, the
obsessed policeman who hounds Jean Valjean, is also altered -- perhaps
more subtly -- to make him out as the depraved villain of the story,
when in the novel and musical he is more complex and less of a villain.
The other characters, however, are faithfully portrayed in the film.
in the second half, the movie does shine at times. The depiction of
Jean Valjean continues to be brilliant (except for one scene in which
he slaps Cosette and then reveals his past to her, both actions in
complete inconsistency with his character according to Hugo). The last
fifteen minutes of the film do portray well the important universal
theme of Justice versus Mercy. However, the movie curtails the original
story, robbing it of a good deal of its poignancy.
though, the film manages to preserve the main themes and characters of
the original novel. It serves as a good introduction to the story. It
should inspire viewers to read the original book and listen to the
musical as well!
I have not seen the other adaptions. However,
I find this adaption to be outstanding. Liam Neeson is perfectly cast
as Jean Valjean. The movie is somewhat different than the book. It has
to be or else the movie would be over 4 hours long. The movie is
dramatically pleasing and stands on its own and it does capture the
essence of Victor Hugo's writing.
is a well-acted version of the famous book by Victor Hugo. It is, at
times, more faithful to the original story than other versions that I
have viewed. However, though more faithful in many scenes, it just
lacks some of the heart found in previous screenplays. I'm going to
give this one away, and purchase the 1978 version starring Richard
Jordan and Anthony Perkins. While the '78 is not 100% true to the book,
I think it better portrays the character of the original story,
especially in the scenes at the bishop's house. Neither film is true to
text here, but Jean Valjean's change of heart - the reason for his
conversion - is much more clear in the 1978 film portrayal. Another
place where, while less accurate, the '78 version is preferred is in
the introductory scenes. The Liam Neeson version is definitely the more
true to story, yet the '78 version with Richard Jordan gives more of a
sense of why a poor starving man who steals a piece of bread could
become hardened to the point of needing to undergo a conversion of
heart in the first place. Finally, the scenes at the end are, once
again, 100% true to neither film but the Anthony Perkin's character (in
the '78 film version) gives a much more compelling, dramatic
conclusion, which leaves one pondering, much more deeply (in my
opinion) the difference between the letter of the law and that which is
right and just.
It seems to me that one of the critical flaws of this version (Liam
Neeson) is that you never really develop a bond with his portrayal of
Valjean. There's a coldness (and I think it's in the screenplay rather
than in neeson's acting), if you will, that never allows me to really
enter into his character. While the story remains excellent and the
acting is good, I just could never embrace this version of the film.
have watched and listened to the musical many times, so I was somewhat
familiar with the plot before I had watched the movie. The first half
is wonderful, and the cast is incredible. However, the second half is a
huge letdown. Cosette is not at all what I thought she should be. She
was always complaining, or whining, or crying. The romance between
Cosette and Marius was kind of cheesy, and I was disappointed to find
out that Eponine was completely left out of the story. It also felt as
if the end was not very well thought out, leaving a disappointed
I have been a Les Mis fan for years, so I was
extremely excited to hear that a Hollywood Les Mis movie was to be
made, but from the beginning I was sorely disappointed.
True, not everything from the book could be put into the movie, but
it seemed that they left out some of the most important elements of the
story. So, if you have never read the novel & know nothing of Les
Mis, you may enjoy the movie as a period film (post-Napoleonic France,
f.y.i.) But if you are a fan of the true Les Mis story, you most likely
won't enjoy this adaptation with it's lack of characters, missing side
plots, & loosing practically the last 1/4 of the entire story.
Personally, I found the only redeeming aspect of this movie was the
fact that Geoffry Rush played Javert. He fit the role perfectly &
played him with skill. But I thought Liam Neeson seemed about 20 years
too young for the Valjean I imagined. Uma Thurman is fine as Fantine
& Claire Danes works as Cosette.
Overall, just stick with the novel or even the musical.
Version of: Misérables, Les |
Misérables - Ã‰poque 1: Jean Valjean, Les | Misérables - Ã‰poque 2:
Fantine, Les | Misérables, Les | Misérables, Les | The Bishop's
Candlesticks | Aa mujo: Zempen | Aa mujo: Kohen | Jean Valjean |
Misérables, Les | Misérables, Les | Kyojin-den | Miserables, Los |
Boassa, El | Miserabili, I | Re mizeraburu: kami to akuma | Miserables,
Les | Misérables, Les | Miseráveis, Os | Miseráveis, Os | Misérables,
Les | Misérables, Les | Miserables, Les | Misérables, Les | Misérables,
Les | Les Misérables in Concert | Misérables, Les
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