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Jean Valjean and the Forgiving Heart
American Thinker ^ | 01/13/2013 | Glenn Fairman

Posted on 01/13/2013 7:01:45 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Scant days ago, in that chilly time after Christmas, I strolled into our local theatre in the expectation of being entertained by an established well-loved musical that had just been rendered to film. I had no idea I would emerge from the darkness three hours later a scarlet-eyed blubbering wreck. Having bargained for diversion, I instead reaped a bounty of cinematic moral lessons wherein intense human ugliness runs headlong into the arms of sublime beauty and breaks our aching hearts in a fair exchange. Welcome to the spectacle of Les Miserables.

In retrospect, one could not ask for a more philosophical-moral biscuit to chew upon. Its sweeping themes of: justice and injustice, the law, mercy, forgiveness, courage, hopeless cruelty and redemption all congeal into that rare and breathtaking aesthetic wherein we travel beyond ourselves and hopefully examine our own stories against the adamantine First Principles of transcendence. While it is impossible to fully plumb the depths here of this masterpiece's grand totality, with your indulgence I will clumsily attempt to examine a few of its gems.

In the figure of Jean Valjean, we witness a man nearly broken by the untempered blade of justice. Having spent half his life serving penance in the galleys for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread and escape, the harsh exactness of the law administered in the personification of the relentless Javert has stripped Valjean of much of his human veneer. Answering for so long to the number 24601, Valjean, when eventually released, is only hardened in his hatred for what he has incurred at the hands of justice. His salvation, however, comes from a priest whom Valjean robs of a fortune in silver following the former's show of Christian charity.

(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...


TOPICS: General Discusssion; Moral Issues; Theology
KEYWORDS: christians; forgiveness; jeanvaljean; lesmiserables; lesmiz; moviereview

1 posted on 01/13/2013 7:01:52 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I posted a story about LM from the Acton Institute yesterday.

Great story, great film. Even from Hollyweird, we can see God’s truth shine through.


2 posted on 01/13/2013 7:08:06 AM PST by SoFloFreeper
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To: SoFloFreeper

Grace. Redemption. Love. Excellent rendition of Les Mis.


3 posted on 01/13/2013 7:13:34 AM PST by shankbear (The tree of Liberty appears to be perishing because there are few patriots willing to refresh it.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I thought Rusell Crowe was outstanding.


4 posted on 01/13/2013 7:13:44 AM PST by onedoug
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To: SeekAndFind

If a book is good enough to inspire a movie...read the book. The movie is always a disappointment in comparison. (and it was the Bishop of Digne, not a “priest”)


5 posted on 01/13/2013 7:15:43 AM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: SeekAndFind

Good analysis. I’ll be seeing it this week. Have to see the Hobbit first. But I’ve read LM several times, most recently an audio version what was wonderful. I prefer the 10th anniversary concert version to the 25th. I saw the stage version with the original cast but had a migraine at the time so barely remember it. This story has been part of my life for forty years.


6 posted on 01/13/2013 7:23:03 AM PST by Mercat (To love another person is to see the face of God.)
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To: gorush

I used to think that the book (of whatever story) would always outshine the movie until I saw the first scene of the Fellowship of the Ring and after reading the LOTR several times, I cried with joy at being able to see the Shire on the big screen. Perhaps you are better at visualizing things. I know that my sons and my husband are but I’m pretty much a left brained personal so a good visualization of something can only enhance the experience. I recently saw the Screwtape Letters performed by Max McLean. Wonderful. Put meat on the bones of the book.


7 posted on 01/13/2013 7:33:05 AM PST by Mercat (To love another person is to see the face of God.)
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To: Mercat

I would also submit Silence of the Lambs as a movie which quite exceeded the book in quality. Anthony Hopkin’s performance as Lecter was so amazing that it changed the way the author wrote him in future books.


8 posted on 01/13/2013 8:01:54 AM PST by drbuzzard (All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.)
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To: SeekAndFind

All the rave reviews of Les Miserables (the new movie) make me wonder about one thing.

Les Miserables (the new movie) is the same Les Miserables that’s been on Broadway for years, was made into a movie with Liam Neeson (non musical), many years ago, and Hugo’s story was writtten in the mid 1800’s and I would have thought was on the reading list of most high school, or at least college students.

But it’s as if suddenly, this story appears and people are surprised by it’s spiritual overtones of law/grace, etc.

It’s not Hollywood that made up this story, although they seem to be getting all the praise. It’s Hugo that penned the masterpiece years ago, and the story is timeless because it lays out one of the basic conflicts of humanity.


9 posted on 01/13/2013 8:31:00 AM PST by memyselfandi59
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To: Mercat

I was astonished at how well Jackson used the landscape of New Zealand to recreate Middle Earth. It was exactly as I had seen it in my mind’s eye after reading the books four or five times. The costumes and set design too.

My one and only regret about the LOTR movie was that there was no room for the Scouring of the Shire. Well, that and the loss of Tom Bombadil.


10 posted on 01/13/2013 8:34:22 AM PST by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: Mercat

I guess my blanket statement suffered the deficiencies of most blanket statements. Any movie derived from classic literature always disappoints me with Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, A tale of Two Cities and War and Peace being shining examples.


11 posted on 01/13/2013 8:53:39 AM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: SeekAndFind

I saw the stage show twice.
The first time, i was transformed into a “Scarlet-Eyed blubbering Wreck” during the “Silver Candlestick Scene”, and stayed that way for the next two hours!

It was MOST embarrassing! :-)

This was a very good analysis of the story!


12 posted on 01/13/2013 9:42:48 AM PST by left that other site (Worry is the darkroom that develops negatives.)
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To: All

Great comments everyone. I loved the write up article. He did a good job.

I too favor the 10th anniversary edition opera.

Got to see LTR last month and thought it very well done. It was my first 3D movie and was amazed by the effects of the 3D. I felt as if I was IN that Hobbit hole and a part of the movie. I even found myself jumping and turning away from things which appeared to fly into the theater lol!

Iv’e NOT read the book LM, but really enjoyed the operas I’ve seen on tape/cd/youtube etc. I didn’t like the movie portrayal years ago, but loved it on the big screen and glad I went to see it.

I think Hollywood is doing a much better job at turning books into movies than it used to. It sometimes flip flops both ways where if you read the book, the movie is a disappointment, but if you see the movie first, the book is a disappointment.

In the case of LM, the movie brought out some details that weren’t well portrayed in the opera that assisted in the visual/emotional impact of the story itself.

I brought along a friend who absolutely hates musicals. She hated the musical presentation and wished it was spoken dialog instead, but she loved the story. I happen to love the music too. I liked how they combined the acting with the music to tell the story.

Thanks for a good thread :)


13 posted on 01/13/2013 9:47:01 AM PST by PrairieLady2
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To: All

Great comments everyone. I loved the write up article. He did a good job.

I too favor the 10th anniversary edition opera.

Got to see LTR last month and thought it very well done. It was my first 3D movie and was amazed by the effects of the 3D. I felt as if I was IN that Hobbit hole and a part of the movie. I even found myself jumping and turning away from things which appeared to fly into the theater lol!

Iv’e NOT read the book LM, but really enjoyed the operas I’ve seen on tape/cd/youtube etc. I didn’t like the movie portrayal years ago, but loved it on the big screen and glad I went to see it.

I think Hollywood is doing a much better job at turning books into movies than it used to. It sometimes flip flops both ways where if you read the book, the movie is a disappointment, but if you see the movie first, the book is a disappointment.

In the case of LM, the movie brought out some details that weren’t well portrayed in the opera that assisted in the visual/emotional impact of the story itself.

I brought along a friend who absolutely hates musicals. She hated the musical presentation and wished it was spoken dialog instead, but she loved the story. I happen to love the music too. I liked how they combined the acting with the music to tell the story.

Thanks for a good thread :)


14 posted on 01/13/2013 10:17:58 AM PST by PrairieLady2
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To: gorush

The 1935 version of A Tale of Two Cities with Ron Colman is the best. In fact, I recommend it and it costs only $3 to rent it on Amazon. I don’t know about Count since I never read the book. I did love Gerard Depardeau but who doesn’t. I didn’t like the non musical movie version. I am looking forward to seeing this version. I’m happy that they even have the priest/bishop in it and it sounds like they have him in the sewers for awhile. Those are my two favorite parts. I really despise Marais. What a despicable and shallow human being.


15 posted on 01/13/2013 10:36:41 AM PST by Mercat (To love another person is to see the face of God.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Read the book in 9th grade English class. It stuck with me, even though some of it was over my head at that age.

Saw the play for the first time in the early 90’s. Have since seen the play 6 more times. Each time was terrific. I don't go to a lot of plays...maybe one every year or two. This is the only play that I have taken the effort to see more than once. I have always felt that it is a must-see experience for everyone.

Looking forward to this latest movie version.

16 posted on 01/13/2013 10:37:20 AM PST by Swede Girl
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To: ccmay

I had lots of regrets about the movies too. I didn’t like the whole Ent part. I didn’t like the way they made Gimli into a joke. I just finished listening to the trilogy which they finally last year, got into a wonderful unabridged audio version. But the movies, whatever their flaws, provided me with a vision of Middle Earth that I will always treasure. My mother read the trilogy every year for years and I do regret that she didn’t live long enough to see the movies. Oh well, she’s living them now which is what I always think when I regret someone who has died didn’t do something on earth.


17 posted on 01/13/2013 10:44:03 AM PST by Mercat (To love another person is to see the face of God.)
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To: Mercat

I envy people who haven’t read The Count of Monte Cristo or Atlas Shrugged...because they still get to for the first time.


18 posted on 01/13/2013 11:09:32 AM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: drbuzzard; Mercat

Another movie that is an excellent rendition of a book is “The Leopard”, the changes made from book to movie actually improve the story I think. And....Burt Lancaster....Alain Delon....Claudia Cardinale!


19 posted on 01/13/2013 4:27:25 PM PST by jocon307
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To: gorush

I went to iTunes to find an audio version of the Count and there are several unabridged versions. Any opinion on which one?


20 posted on 01/13/2013 4:30:41 PM PST by Mercat (To love another person is to see the face of God.)
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To: drbuzzard; Mercat

And here’s one that I thought was just not good enough at all: The Hunger Games.

Hubby & I listened to the audio book and finally watched the movie on pay-per-view. There was just so much that was left out, the details, the back story. I felt that if I hadn’t “read” the book I wouldn’t have understood what was going on at all, and you shouldn’t HAVE to read the book to watch the movie.

I wish they would bring back the mini-series, it was a great format for longer stories, the hunger games would have been a great story for a mini-series.


21 posted on 01/13/2013 4:34:06 PM PST by jocon307
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To: jocon307

Same with the Harry Potter books/movies which I know are anathema on freepers but I love them. The books have so many layers and are also great stories of redemption. But the movies are just blockbusters. I do however, love the casting and sets so that’s useful when I reread them.


22 posted on 01/13/2013 4:38:32 PM PST by Mercat (To love another person is to see the face of God.)
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To: SeekAndFind
One quibble with the article:

Fairman writes: "...Jean must now use the silver for Good, now that "I have saved your soul for God."

The actual line is "I have bought your soul for God." The stolen silver was the price Valjean accepted for his soul. He never sells the silver. He keeps the candlesticks as a sign of his bargain with God.

Moving on, Fairman writes: "In adopting Cosette and taking her away from the vicious clutches of the Inn Keepers, he ransoms a life that would no doubt have fallen into depravity."

The "Inn Keepers" are the Thénardiers. Fairman could have looked up the characters' true names. Setting that quibble aside, we see the personification of falling into depravity in their daughter Eponine. As a child, Eponine is dressed in nice clothes bought by the money sent from Fantine, while Fantine's daughter Cosette wears rags and performs menial chores. Later, as young adults, we see the reverse. Cosette grows up to be an upper-class woman while Eponine is a street thief supporting her parents in their crimes. Later on, Eponine foils her father's attempt to rob Valjean, facilitates the star-crossed love of Cosette and Marius (whom Eponine secretly loves) and takes a bullet intended for her unrequited lover Marius.

Although not shown in the movie, Eponine is redeemed along with Fantine and Valjean, when they lead Valjean to heaven.

-PJ

23 posted on 01/13/2013 4:56:34 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
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To: Mercat

Is there one narrated by John Lee? If so, get that.


24 posted on 01/13/2013 6:31:50 PM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: jocon307

Actually in some ways I preferred the Movie (even though it did cause there to be holes compared to the book) simple because it removed the issue of it being a story told from the POV of a teenager. You got a more objective look at the world, and were exposed to the bad guy leader in ways the book could not cover given the narrative style.


25 posted on 01/14/2013 5:30:47 AM PST by drbuzzard (All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.)
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