Les Miserables (1978)

Director: Glenn Jordan

The film Les Miserables is based on the famous historical novel by Victor Hugo. It begins in Favorolles France during the year 1796 and follows the life of John Valjean (Richard Jordan). Valjean is by trade a wood cutter, a poor man trying to take care of his sister and her family. He is caught stealing a loaf of bread and sent to Toulon prison for five years. While in prison he is tortured and is forced to live in unbearable conditions. Valjean is hounded by Javert (Anthony Perkins) the prison guard and is repeatedly beaten and sentenced to longer prison time (19 years) and to solitary confinement often. He attempts to escape from the prison a couple of times and is eventually successful. Valjean is taken in by a priest who teaches him of kindness, peace and the saving of his soul. Javert angered by the escape vows to hunt and capture John Valjean if it takes the rest of his life. Five years later Valjean re-appears as the well to do mayor of a prosperous town. He is pressed by a poor women to take care of her daughter who he rescues from abusive care takers. Inspector Javert happens to find Valjean in the town and he is once again on the run taking Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) with him. The story continues over a 20 year span which includes Valjeans triumph over wicked forces.

Les Miserables is a remarkable, intriguing story line that amazingly spans all times. There are always poor oppressed people in our society but how often do they persevere and prosper. I enjoyed this film and would like to see the musical version. I also hope to read the novel someday as there was a lot of missing pieces of information that maybe in the book. For instance the plot seems to take place in five year increments. Five years lapsed from Valjeans prison break until miraculously he is a prosperous mayor, what transpired to allow for that to happen. As well several years later after being on the run with Cosette, he again surfaces as a wealthy land owner. I did like how this film was shot with a lot of angle shots from below or above the scene that was being enacted. The scenery was well done and the battle scene, I believe, seemed realistic for the time frame it took place in.

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