I am settling in for a movie and supper. Tonight I’ll watch an old favorite, the 1998 Les Miserables with Geoffrey Rush as Javert and Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. No movie would get everything that Victor Hugo pressed into his pages (it is one of the only full novels I have ever read in French – I also read Notre-Dame de Paris and it was like torture, the French was so much harder), and there are lots of changes to the novel for its filmification.
Hugos’s digression about Waterloo in Les Miserables (not in the film) is amazing, up there with the mighty digression about the plague in Milan in I promessi sposi. But I digress.
There are pathetic moments in Les Miserables, in the sense of pathos, and the film captures the social conditions of the time, the tenuous nature of women in the era, the extremities of justice without mercy versus human and Christian mercy and compassion. And of course there is tale to be told here about what happens where there is hierarchy for the sake of hierarchy based on wrong notions entirely.
Great film. Geoffrey Rush is, as usual, brilliant. He captures rigid obsession with frightening impact.
Here is an excerpt of a pivotal moment when the old bishop ransoms Valjean’s soul from bitterness and ultimate despair.
Valjean, a convict of 19 years of hard labor for stealing and just paroled, is taken in for a night by the bishop of a place. Valjean steals the bishop’s silver and knocks the bishop out when he comes to investigate. He flees.
BTW… later in the movie there are some liturgically incorrect (absurd) scenes of Mass and a clothing of postulants. And the actors/clergy sure ain’t French. You can tell that the people who made the film had no historical sense when it came to the Church. Thus, we see that pagans think the Church doesn’t change things very much over time and therefore the way we do things now must be the way they did things in the early 19th century. And thus, enters Claire Danes to replace the sweet little girl who played Cosette.