Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in France during the French Revolution? Probably not, but the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo transports you into the horrific time period. It was later thought to be the best book of the 19th century, so they turned it into a musical. On December 25, 2012 “Les Mis” came out in Theaters all over the country as a movie. The story is about five main characters and their struggles during this time period – Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Cosette, and Marius Pontmercy.
Jean Valjean is our main character. He was a convict who spent almost 20 years of his life in the galleys as punishment for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister and her seven children. When he is released, he is brought into the light of God, and breaks his parole to become a better man. He introduces many industrialized ideas to the economy and ends up as a mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. He spends his life working hard and helps Fantine and Cosette.
Javert is a guard who watches over Jean Valjean at the galleys. He later becomes a quite serious police inspector and joins the police force of Montreuil-sur-Mer. He arrests Fantine, and recognizes Valjean. He then spends his life hunting him to turn him in for breaking his parole.
Fantine is a beautiful woman with long hair, who lives her life to keep her daughter. In learning of her daughter, she is fired from her job and sells her hair and two teeth. She still needs money, and turns to prostitution. She becomes ill, and Valjean learns of her and takes her to the hospital. He promises to bring Cosette, her daughter, to her, but ends up dying. Valjean feels awful, especially since she was fired from his factory, and takes Cosette in as his own in debt to Fantine.
Cosette is Fantine’s daughter. She was beaten and punished for nothing by the Thénardiers. But Valjean adopts her and they live together in Paris.
Marius Pontmercy is student who is part of a rebellion against the Napoleon. He is studying law, and later falls in love with Cosette. He helps out with the French revolution, and Valjean saves his life so he and Cosette can be together.
The movie stars people like Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Blackwood, Amanda Syfried, Eddie Redmayne, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Because Les Mis is a musical, there is a lot of singing. Julia Ortiz (8) says, “I loved it – great singing, and Eddie Redmayne, my husband, was in it.”
Another interesting fact is that the actors were singing during the take. They had an ear piece in their ear, and a piano was playing so they could speed up or slow down their singing. The piano would later be replaced with a 72 piece orchestra. In interviews with Anne Hathaway, she says it makes it seem so much more real, and adds a lot of emotion. Anne Hathaway’s character, Fantine, sells her hair for money; so, Anne Hathaway requested that her hair actually be cut during the take. You only get one chance for that! Many of the actors had to train their voices so they would be used to singing 12 hours a day.
“Les Miserables” is a great story of learning to love, and taking chances. One thing I know I’ve learned is to NEVER steal bread. Go see “Les Miserables” and experience the movie of a lifetime!