MOVIE: "Les Miserables" - one EPIC movie!

Les Misérables has highly specific politics that aren’t simply the politics of popular revolt and “sentimental” liberty. - ADAM GOPNIK - The New Yorker

Les Miserables, (literally "The Miserable Ones", is a great work of art of Victor Hugo, a French poet and playwright. It was originally done in French language and just translated for its adaptation in English language. Tom Hooper took the challenge to put this great piece into a movie after its musical adaptation which was one of the greatest Broadway production of all time.


Prisoner 24601, known as Jean Valjean, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set post-revolutionary France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the June Rebellion.

The Cast

Hugh Jackman  ... Jean Valjean

Prisoner 24601. Released from imprisonment after serving 19 years (five for stealing a loaf of bread and fourteen for multiple escape attempts). He decides to break his parole and turns his life around, proving that the corrupt can make themselves virtuous once more. He changes his identity, becoming the wealthy mayor of a small town. He later adopts Cosette, the daughter of Fantine. 

Russell Crowe  ... Javert

Respects the law above all else and relentlessly pursues Valjean, hoping to bring the escaped convict to justice. He firmly believes that humans cannot change for the better.

Anne Hathaway  ... Fantine

A worker who loses her job and becomes a prostitute in order to pay the Thénardiers for the welfare of her daughter. As she dies of consumption, she asks Valjean to look after her child Cosette. Ultimately she appears as a spirit and escorts the dying Valjean to paradise.

Amanda Seyfried  ... Cosette

Cosette, the daughter of Fantine, has become beautiful under Valjean's adoptive care. She falls in love with Marius, and he returns her love.

Sacha Baron Cohen  ... Thénardier

A second-rate thief, Thénardier runs a small inn.

Helena Bonham Carter  ... Madame Thénardier

Thénardier's unscrupulous wife.

Eddie Redmayne  ... Marius Pontmercy

Marius, a student revolutionary, is friends with Éponine, but falls in love with Cosette. He is later rescued from the barricades by Valjean, who ultimately gives Marius and Cosette his blessing, allowing them to be married.

Aaron Tveit  ... Enjolras

Enjolras is the leader of the student revolutionaries and a friend of Marius.

Samantha Barks  ... Éponine

Daughter of the Thénardiers, Éponine, now ragged and a waif, secretly loves Marius. She is killed while returning to the barricades to see Marius.

Daniel Huttlestone  ... Gavroche

Gavroche is a streetwise urchin who dies on the barricade helping the revolutionaries. He is actually the abandoned son of the Thénardiers, though this is not mentioned in the musical.

My Favorite Scenes

1. Fantine's scene "I Dreamed a Dream".

2. Fantine's death: "Come to Me".

3. Eponine's scene while singing "On My Own" under the rain.

4. Marius Pontmercy's whining after finding out that all of his colleagues have died from the battle"Empty Chairs at Empty Tables".

5. Jean Valjean's last encounter with Cosette as he's breathing his last. Fantine on the scene thanking him for taking good care of her daughter and welcoming him to God's kingdom.

The scenes that I enumerated were my favorite because its on these particular scenes that the film made me into tears. The scenes were really heartfelt. I really commend the artists' portrayal on the characters given to them.


  • Anne Hathaway actually cut her hair very short for this movie, in a scene where her character sells her hair.
  • Amanda Seyfried said in an interview that it took over four months of auditioning to get the part of Cosette. She was entirely unaware of the other young women auditioning/ being considered for the role, but she was constantly told that she was "not right" for this musical/film. During the audition process, Seyfried was also singing/reading for the role of Fantine, and forced herself to get into vocal and physical shape for strong consideration for either one of the roles. When Anne Hathaway signed on as Fantine, Seyfried was given the role of Cosette.
  • Anne Hathaway reportedly blew everyone away at her audition, leaving them in tears.
  • Typically, the soundtrack for a movie musical is recorded several months in advance and the actors mime to playback during filming. However, on this film, every single song was recorded live on set to capture the spontaneity of the performances. Everyone involved, from Hugh Jackman to Russell Crowe to producer Cameron Mackintosh, have praised this approach as it allowed them to concentrate on their acting as opposed to lip-syncing properly. They have also praised director Tom Hooper for attempting this on such a scale; something no director has ever done before. 
  • Recording the actors' singing live as they're acting may not be a first for this film, but the scope, and especially the manner in which it's being done, is: The actors wore ear pieces which fed the sound of a live piano being played off-stage, to keep their singing in key. The main novelty here is, there's no count-in or predetermined tempo and the piano is following the pacing of the actor, not the other way around - a first for a filmed musical. Orchestral music was added post-production. 
  • Several actors went through transformations upon receiving their roles. Anne Hathaway lost 25 pounds in total for her portrayal of Fantine, while Hugh Jackman lost 30 pounds in order to play Valjean as a prisoner. 
  • Hugh Jackman went 36 hours without water, causing him to lose water weight around his eyes and cheeks, giving him the gaunt appearance of a prisoner. 
  • The film was going to be 4 hours long, with a 15-minute battle. But, it was shortened to 2 and a half hours. 15 minutes of the final film were cut out.

Closing Note

I believe that this film is one of the greatest films ever made. The story itself has a deep sense of courage and braveness. Touching issues of slavery, prostitution, underground economy, thief  political dynasty, poverty, inequality and unjust ruling. I highly commend the artists who portrayed each role and gave justice to it. Same as with people behind the camera who made their best to create such a wonderful film. Thank you Victor Hugo! Thank you Tom Hooper!

Rating: 10/10

Credits: Trivia from IMDB, pictures were screengrab

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