Les Misérables- -
An adaptation of the successful stage musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel set in 19th-century France, in which a paroled prisoner named Jean Valjean seeks redemption.
Les Miserables is a story about redemption, grace, selflessness and human suffering. Based on the famous novel by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables translates into “the miserable ones”. The story is centered on a prisoner, Jean Valjean, who is released after spending 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Once free, he breaks his parole and is pursued by a police inspector who wants to bring him back to pay for his new crimes. A priest shows him generosity and grace and he knows that he must redeem himself in the eyes of God, even if it means breaking the laws of man once again. This parental guide to the movies considers this Les Miserables movie to be one of the classics of all time, but it may not be the best choice for family movies this holiday season.
Many people mistakenly think that this movie takes place during the French revolution. However, both the play and the book make it clear that this plot takes place 15 years after the French revolution ended. The French revolution was from 1789 to 1799. Les Miserables begins in 1815. The war featured is actually the June Rebellion, or Paris Uprising of 1832. Throughout the plot, Jean Valjean, is running from the law. In order to make amends with God, he must place himself in danger of being captured once again by the law. This moral dilemma is the focus of the plot.
John Valjean becomes a gentle and respectable mayor until he is discovered by the inspector who vows to bring him to justice once and for all. One of the qualities that make Les Miserables intriguing is the intertwining of many different subplots. The subplots are result of the characters that he meets along the way. This is where the movie becomes questionable as a holiday family movie. This family movie review will explain.
For instance, Jean meets a single mother who is forced into prostitution to care for her child, Cosette. Cosette is involved in a love triangle between student revolutionary Marius and a poor street thief, Eponine. Eponine’s parents are also villainous and outside of the law. It is this group that starts the battle in the streets of Paris known as the June Revolution. Both the play and the movie are an excellent set up for a historical understanding of the June Revolution, but with that being said, it is a very realistic portrayal of a bloody and painful time in French history.
The Les Miserables movie has prostitutes as a running theme throughout the plot, which translates into a considerable amount of cleavage. Explicit sexual references are used by the prostitutes to describe their customers. Off screen acts are evident to the point where they cannot be mistaken. Men in the movie treat women in very demeaning ways, as was considered appropriate during that time period. Women often slapped the men for their actions. In addition to this, many of the prisoners have been battered and beaten, some of which happens on screen. A woman’s teeth are removed forcefully without anesthetic. There is much blood and gore associated with the battle scenes. An abused and neglected child is seen, as is a sickly woman dying in a hospital. People are shot and there are many explicit death scenes throughout the movie. There is even one suicide complete with the sound of bones breaking on impact. There is much profanity throughout the movie. Many of the scenes are frightening and alcohol use is evident throughout the movie. Corpses are robbed and pillaged. Les Miserables shows the realities of the June Revolution in graphic detail.
This Les Miserables movie was intended to hit hard emotionally and it does in many ways. The Les Miserables movie was intended to have something for everyone that would spark some emotion or feeling connected to events in their lives. This is definitely not a movie for the young. It is questionable even as a PG-13 movie. The teens age 15 or above would be better equipped to handle the intensity and impact of the movie. It attacks many subjects such as bullying, violence against women, being ignored by those you love, and many other sub themes using the characters to represent these ideals.
Les Miserables is a musical with very little dialog. Most of the movie is sung and it might be noted that the director makes it known that this movie was not made using a prerecorded soundtrack, rather the singing and action is live. This gives the movie a more realistic affect and in the opinion of this family movie review, makes it rank a little higher than a straight PG-13 on the Parental Guide to the movies rating scale. Is the movie good? Yes, lean Les Miserables is bound to be a movie that you never forget. If you have read the book or seen the play live, this movie rendition will not disappoint, but it may not be the best family friendly movie of this holiday season.