MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Universal Pictures
Directed by Tom Hooper. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe.
This is the film version of the international stage sensation that first saw light over 25 years ago. It tells Victor Hugo’s story, set during the time of the French Revolution, about Jean Valjean (Jackman), a former prisoner who breaks parole and tries to make something out of his life while avoiding being captured by police captain Javert (Crowe). Valjean recreates his life after being shown forgiveness but Javert hunts him down with the letter of the law. At its heart, Hugo’s novel is a very spiritual tale about law vs. grace. There is Christian symbolism throughout and Valjean is presented as a developing Christ figure.
The musical was filmed with actors singing live which is dramatically effective, but bound to make a very awful soundtrack album, with all of the crying, screaming and scenery chewing in the background. Hugh Jackman is great and Russell Crowe sings better than the reviews would have you think. Anne Hathaway’s one big number as the factory worker Fantine, sung in a single take, is going to win her a bunch of prizes, but nothing in this movie moved me very much. With every song dialed up to 11, the movie is always hitting you over the head with how moving and important everything is.
1998’s non-musical version, directed by Bille August and starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush as Valjean and Javert, did a better job overall with the book. But this version of Les Misérables is a respectable musical and should please the thousands of fans who love this work.
Note to parents: If your children don’t know what a prostitute is or what she does for a living, you’d best not take them to this movie. There will be many questions.
Four halos: A loud and overbearing musical that still tells a classic story of redemption.
Three pitchforks: Brutality, prostitution, non-graphic sex acts and semi-violent deaths (i.e. people get stabbed and shot and don’t bleed, but there are pools of blood nevertheless).
Reviews by Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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