Miserables

Les Miserables

4.6 11
Director: Bille August

Cast: Bille August, Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman

     
 

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Bille August directed this Rafael Yglesias adaptation of the 1862 classic by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) about the quest of Inspector Javert to capture escaped convict Jean Valjean, originally an honest man who was jailed for stealing a single loaf of bread to feed the family of his starving sister. This new interpretation of Hugo's epic begins with Valjean (Liam Neeson),

Overview

Bille August directed this Rafael Yglesias adaptation of the 1862 classic by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) about the quest of Inspector Javert to capture escaped convict Jean Valjean, originally an honest man who was jailed for stealing a single loaf of bread to feed the family of his starving sister. This new interpretation of Hugo's epic begins with Valjean (Liam Neeson), released after 20 years of cruelties and hard labor, reporting for parole in Dijon. Stopping at a bishop's house, he's treated with respect, but even so, he steals silverware, flees, and is captured. However, the bishop says the silverware was a gift, proving Valjean's innocence by giving him two silver candlesticks. Valjean is free, but the bishop asks him to treat others with equal kindness. By 1822, Valjean has risen to mayor of the village of Vigau, where he also maintains a successful factory. Joining the local police, Inspector Javert (Geoffrey Rush) is suspicious of Valjean's identity and eventually recognizes him as a former convict, but Javert has no proof when he carries his accusations to Paris. Valjean develops a relationship with Fantine (Uma Thurman), who lost her factory job because of local attitudes about her illegitimate daughter. The starving Fantine turns to prostitution, is arrested and tortured by Javert, and becomes ill. As she dies, Valjean promises to raise her daughter Cosette. Focusing on Valjean's life with Cosette (Claire Danes), the story is set amid the action of the July 1832 Revolution, a time when Cosette falls in love with a militant student, Marius (Hans Matheson). On the banks of the Seine, Valjean and Javert have their final confrontation.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
When dealing with a source material that's been adapted so frequently into film, it's extremely difficult not to compare and contrast any new effort with what's gone before. Taken on its own merits, however, this version of the Victor Hugo classic is a solid and entertaining adaptation, if too cold and austere. Liam Neeson is a thoroughly credible Valjean, especially during the opening sequences when the protagonist is still a criminal. With his looming physicality, the actor pulls off a palpable sense of threat that makes accepting him as a public menace that much easier. Neeson's interpretation of the role is a reminder of how many of the actors who have filled Valjean's shoes in the past have portrayed him as a tragic victim of unavoidable circumstance so that his later transformation seems more believable (and their own personas remain heroically intact). Here, the star goes for a sense of his character as a genuine thief, and it's a small but important thrill. If his later, reformed Valjean is too brittle and removed, it's understandable in contrast to his earlier incarnation. It also makes way for the searing performance of Geoffrey Rush as Javert, one of the finer depictions of the role. Rush brings to life the ramrod steel of his villain's outer shell, but manages at all turns to remain sympathetic. This is no small feat in a part that could easily be played by someone less subtle as a teeth-gnashing demon. Elements such as music, costuming, set design, and location are first rate, combining with the two lead performances to make a mostly successful production. Les Miserables (1998) weakens when the female characters are onscreen. Neither the tragic scenes involving the death of Fantine (Uma Thurman) nor the burgeoning romance of Cosette (Claire Danes) with a political dissident ever really become emotionally engaging. It looks fantastic and its male leads are doing some of their best work, but Les Miserables (1998) doesn't evoke the feelings that it should. That's a flaw in such a sweeping, ardent tale.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/11/2012
UPC:
0043396415195
Original Release:
1998
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
ABC
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:14:00
Sales rank:
32,770

Special Features

A First Look at Les Misérables

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Liam Neeson Jean Valjean
Geoffrey Rush Javert
Uma Thurman Fantine
Claire Danes Cosette
Hans Matheson Marius
Reine Brynolfsson Captain Beauvais
Peter Vaughan Bishop
Mimi Newman Cosette (age 8)
Toby Jones Door Keeper
Kathleen Byron Actor

Technical Credits
Bille August Director
Anna Asp Production Designer
Janus Billeskov-Jensen Editor
Jean-Francois Casamayou Executive Producer
David John & the Mood Sound/Sound Designer
Leonora Davis Casting
James Gorman Producer
Peter Grant Art Director
Caroline Hewitt Co-producer
Jörgen Persson Cinematographer
Gabriella Pescucci Costumes/Costume Designer
Basil Poledouris Score Composer
Sarah Radclyffe Producer
Guy Travers Asst. Director
Rafael Yglesias Screenwriter

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Les Miserables 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book, which is a literary classic, is wonderful to read, likewise the musical is a beautiful production, and this movie has done everything to be just as good and awe-inspiring. Victor Hugo's story, set in France during a tumultuous time and turbulent life of a former convict, is depicted quite well in this film. It is enjoyable and Liam Neeson makes a great Jean Valjean, showing that for once a novel can be made into a movie and still bring everything to the table that the book has done for so many.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables is a monumental novel, and only a monumental film could do it justice. Unfortunately, only two-thirds of the story are told. The Thenardiers, who are extremely important to the storyline, are all but left out of the movie, and Marius acts more like Enjolras, the real leader of the ABC Society. As an analysis of the struggle between Javert and Valjean, though, the movie moderately excels. It is difficult indeed to pack 1200+ pages in two brief hours.
LostLenore More than 1 year ago
If Liam Neeson and Goeffrey Rush are in a movie, you know it's going to be good. And it was, but, as my headline states, what happened to Eponine? And there was also a lack of Thenardiers, which in my opinion takes quite a bit away from the story. Of course, I understand that there would be no possible way to get everything from the novel into the movie, but come on...Eponine? But other than that, I thought the movie was very well done, with good performances from Uma Thurman and Claire Danes as well. The basic theme of forgiveness and redemption is still there, so you really can't complain too much. Fans of the book, musical, and previous film adaptations would really enjoy this version of Les Miz.
RobbieBobby44 More than 1 year ago
As someone else noted, it's futile to try to tell all that much of a 1000+ page novel in 120 minutes. Besides the Thenardiers coming and going through various time periods of the story, I wondered how much more stirring they could have made this by at least including Cosette's trip to the well. That's one of the most indelible scenes I've ever come across in literature. And obviously the filmmakers left out the remarkably vivid, savage, vicious fighting between the citizens and soldiers in order to get a PG-13 rating and attract a larger audience. But this effort is highly commendable. Neeson and Rush were spot-on in their roles as Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert and everyone else did well, even Claire Danes and the young guy who played Marius.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A timeless, profoundly beautiful classic! Les Miserables is on of my favorites. With a story that capotures your interest and characters portrayed by talents like Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman, this move is highly recommended. It's a beautiful movie. Period.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Les Miserables is a much reccomended film that you have got to see. Javert, played by Geoffrey Rush, is incredibly talented and he plays his part extremely well. I wouldn't show this to small children, for there is little sexual content and it is not a kid's movie. But, please, don't let this pass you by. If you can, also see the musical, which is absolutely superb.