Les Miserables Film Review

Nancy B. Alston

Using the exact words of Javert, “I am the law and the law is not mocked!” Les Misérables is a 2012 epic musical drama film directed and scripted based on the musical of the same name which is in turn based on the 1862 French novel. It was set on the 19th-century France, which climaxes with the anti-monarchist Paris uprising of 1832; primarily the cities of Arras, Digne, Montreuil-sur-mer, Montfermeil, Paris, and Toulon. This would serve as a reminder that Javert, the main antagonist, who is known for being ruthless in hunting down law-breakers, believing they cannot change for the better. As the narrator tells us: “He was one of those people who, even glimpsed, make an immediate impression; there was an intensity about him that was almost a threat. His name was Javert and he belonged to the police.”

It started with Javert, being an assistant guard, releasing prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean, after 19 years of imprisonment for stealing bread and failed attempts at escaping and gave him a parole. Years after, Javert served as an inspector with the local police of the factory owner and mayor of Montreuil, Pas-de-Calais, Monsieur Madeleine. He suspects the identity of Madeleine when he rescues an injured worker trapped under a heavy cart. Then, Madeleine dismissed his attempt of arresting Fantine, a prostitute, for having a violent row with a street idler. The police caught someone they assumed as Jean Valjean so he went to Arras to confirm and went to the Madeleine to beg for him to be dismissed because he was mistaken as he suspected him to be Jean Valjean. Later then, Jean Valjean revealed himself and Javert arrests him but failed to do so. After a few years, Javert was recruited to be an inspector in the capital. He crossed paths with Valjean along with Cosette and tries to arrest them but failed again. Few years passed again and this time, Javert is a leader of a squad of policemen in the capture of a gang which had been terrorizing Paris for years. He pretended to be an ally to spy on the rebels but got recognized by Gavroche, a city urchin, and they imprisoned him. Valjean suddenly came in and offered to execute Javert but actually releases him and faked his death. When the rebellion ended, Javert expected Valjean to come out of the sewer he’d been hiding, though with a company that he agreed to help when Valjean asked him for a favor before he’ll be captured. After helping, instead of capturing Valjean, Javert wandered the streets in emotional turmoil. He was morally confused by the mercy of Jean Valjean, so he commits suicide by throwing himself in the river Seine.

Law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority. In Les Misérables, it’s personified as a persistent man, Javert. He knows what exactly is law and assures that people know it too. He alone, is a living law. Just by mere seeing him, you would be reminded about the do’s and do not’s. He has been given different roles by the government regarding control and coordination. Even though the law changes it statement, it still is law, thus, should be obeyed. Until his last breath, as he throws himself, he buries every single thing on his heart and mind.

The film shows a variance of people. The visuals were very powerful, the places used were appropriate for the scenes. It makes you feel as if you’re in the picture with a touch of modernity. The transitions between scenes are made smoothly. The overall spectacle as a musical was delivered right through on-screen. Also, the actors and actresses were picked thoroughly and gave justice to the specified role they had. 160 minutes runtime was maximized by not only having dramas but also with a little touch of comedy on some parts of the film. As a musical film, it respectably delivered with, of course, great voices. The choice of songs were actually nice and proper as well as the message and emotion being conveyed to the watchers.

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