Les Misérables

©The Creative  Minds

Weilheim-Schongau, Germany

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Les Misérables is a 2012 British musical drama film produced by Working Title Films. The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on Les Misérables, the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. The film is directed by Tom Hooper, scripted by William Nicholson, Boublil, Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and stars an ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. The film tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who becomes mayor of a town in France. Soon exposed, Valjean agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of the dying Fantine, but as a fugitive must also avoid being captured again by police inspector Javert. The plot spans 17 years and is set against a backdrop of political turmoil, which in the film culminates in the June Rebellion of France. Development of Les Misérables based on the stage musical began in the late 1980s. After the musical’s 25th Anniversary concert in October 2010, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that the film resumed development. Hooper and Nicholson were approached in March 2011 and the main characters were cast in 2011. Principal photography commenced in March 2012, and took place in various locations including Greenwich, London, Winchester and Portsmouth in Hampshire, England, as well as Gourdon, in France.

Les Misérables premiered in London on 5 December 2012, and was released on 25 December 2012 in the United States, on 26 December 2012 in Australia, and on 11 January 2013 in the United Kingdom. The film has received divided, but generally positive reviews, with many critics praising the cast, especially the acting of Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Hugh Jackman and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for Anne Hathaway. It has also won four BAFTA Awards, including the Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Hathaway). It is also nominated for eight Academy Award nominations that include Best Picture, Best Actor (Jackman), and Best Supporting Actress (Hathaway).

In 1815, convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole by prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) after serving a nineteen-year sentence. Valjean is driven out of every town, because of his paroled status. He is offered food and shelter by the Bishop of Digne (Colm Wilkinson), but steals his silver during the night. He is caught by the authorities, but the Bishop informs them that the silver was given as a gift, then gives him even more, securing Valjean’s release. Moved by the Bishop’s grace, Valjean breaks his parole, vowing to start an honest life helping others under a new identity. Javert swears he will bring the escaped convict to justice.

Eight years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine (Anne Hathaway), one of his workers, is discovered to be sending money to her illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen), who lives with the unscrupulous Thénardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen) and their daughter Éponine (Natalya Angel Wallace), and is dismissed by the foreman. In a desperate attempt to support her daughter, Fantine becomes a prostitute. She is arrested by Javert after she attacks an abusive man, but is saved by Valjean, who has her hospitalised. Later, Valjean learns that a man believed to be him has been arrested. Unable to accept that an innocent man is condemned, Valjean reveals his identity to the court before departing for the hospital. There he promises a dying Fantine that he will look after her daughter. After escaping from Javert, Valjean finds Cosette and pays the Thénardiers to allow him to take her, and promises to be like a father to her.

Nine years later, Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only government official sympathetic toward the poor, is nearing death. Students Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne) and Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), together with street urchin Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), discuss revolution. Marius later catches a glimpse of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), now a young woman, and instantly falls in love with her. Meanwhile, despite Cosette’s questioning, Valjean refuses to tell her about his past or her mother.

At a café, Enjolras organises a group of idealistic students as Lamarque’s death is announced. Meanwhile, Éponine (Samantha Barks), now Marius’s friend, leads him to Cosette, where the two profess their love for one another. Lamenting that her secret love for Marius will never be reciprocated, Éponine fatalistically decides to join the revolution. When a gang led by Thenardier attempts to capture Valjean for ransom from Javert, Éponine screams to warn Valjean and Cosette; Valjean decides to flee despite Cosette’s desire for Marius. As they leave, Enjolras rallies the Parisians to revolt, and Marius sends a farewell letter to Cosette. The next day, the students interrupt Lamarque’s funeral procession and begin their revolt. Javert poses as a rebel in order to spy on them, but is quickly exposed by Gavroche and captured. During the ensuing gunfight, Éponine saves Marius at the cost of her own life, professing her love to him before she dies in his arms. Valjean, intercepting the letter from Marius to Cosette, goes to the barricade to protect Marius. After saving Enjolras from snipers, he is allowed to execute Javert. However, when the two are alone, Valjean frees Javert, telling him to run.

With the Parisians not joining the revolution as the students expected, they resolve to fight to the death. Everyone is killed but Marius, who is saved when Valjean drags his unconscious body into the sewers. Thénardier, scavenging the dead bodies, steals Marius’s ring. Valjean recovers and escapes the sewers carrying Marius, but is confronted at the exit by Javert. Javert threatens to shoot Valjean if he refuses to surrender, but Valjean ignores him. Unable to reconcile the conflict between his civil and moral duties, two things which he always considered the same, Javert commits suicide by plunging himself into the Seine.

Later, Marius mourns for his friends but Cosette comforts him. Revealing his past to Marius, Valjean tells him he must leave because his presence endangers Cosette, and makes Marius promise never to tell her. Marius and Cosette marry; the Thénardiers crash the reception and testify that they saw Valjean carrying a murdered corpse through the sewers. Thénardier unwittingly shows Marius the ring that he stole from him as “proof.” Recognising the ring, Marius realises that it was Valjean who saved his life. Being told Valjean’s location by Thénardier, Marius and Cosette depart to find him.

As Valjean sits dying in a local convent, he perceives the spirit of Fantine appearing to take him to Heaven. Cosette and Marius rush in to bid farewell. Valjean hands Cosette his confession of his past life, and joins the spirits of Fantine, the Bishop, Enjolras, Éponine, Gavroche, and the other rebels at the barricade.

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