Les Miserables: A Film Review

Think about the mortification and the distress of the individuals who spent years in prison, who have served their time and apparently paid their debt to the society, yet they are never given another opportunity; they are dealt with as dangerous people who are still a threat to their communities. This film review will focus on the character of Jean Valjean and his struggles to transform himself from a thief into an honest man; throughout the years he struggles to stay a step ahead of the police officer Javert and attempts to raise his adopted daughter, Cosette.

Jean Valjean was a fair man, but through the force of a desperate situation, he committed a minor crime of taking a loaf of bread to sustain his family, and was sent to the jail. Valjean arrived in the village after being in prison for nineteen years. Due to his criminal records, he struggles in finding employment, lodgings, and indeed any place in the society. Exhausted and demoralized, he discovers comfort and accommodation at the home of a Bishop. However, amid the night Valjean repays him by stealing all his silverware. He was then caught by the police, but the Bishop claims that the silverware was his gift to Valjean and that police officers should let him go, but not before making him promise to live a good life from now on. This demonstration of empathy and generosity by the Bishop caused him confusion and bewilderment. He now sees himself that he has a decision to make and that is to begin once more. Valjean then moved to the town of Montreuil-sur-mer and became a rich mayor. One day, Valjean bumped into a prostitute named Fantine and guarantees them that he’ll take care of her and her daughter, Cosette. He goes and uncovers his fortune and tries to find Cosette. And when he found her, he then brought Cosette with him in Paris. Not long after staying in Paris, they moved and lived in a convent. When they left, Valjean and Cosette lived a comfortable life. Valjean then recognizes that her adopted daughter, Cosette, had fallen in love with a boy named Marius. When he discovered how much Marius, Cosette’s admirer, adores her, Valjean immediately ran into the heart of a street rebellion to save the kid by carrying his unconscious body through the Paris sewers. When Marius and Cosette got married, Valjean uncovers his true past to Marius. His loneliness eventually killed him, but not before Marius learns the truth about Jean Valjean saving his life that night. Marius and Cosette stayed by Valjean’s side and told him they loved him until he passed away.

Symbolism is something that is woven deep within Les Misérables. The first symbol shown is when Jean Valjean finally gets out of the prison, he’s handed a “yellow ticket”, it is like a ticket to freedom. Jean Valjean is required to carry it with him at all times in order to show people that he is an ex-convict, or else he’ll be in violation of his parole and go back to jail. The major problem is that this ticket makes people turn him away wherever he goes. And that’s because the “yellow ticket” is a symbol of social rejection. As Valjean says to Bishop, “This is my ticket-of-leave – yellow, as you see. That’s why everybody turns me away.” The yellow ticket symbolizes the terrible way society treats its outcasts. It shows us that “freedom” doesn’t mean a whole lot if what it means is that you’re free to starve and die. At the end of the film, we might have forgotten about the Bishop’s candlesticks, but Jean Valjean sure hasn’t forgotten. He passed away in the light of two candles that are mounted in these candlesticks, which is considered as another symbol used in the film. These candlesticks showed exactly how modestly the Bishop is willing to live in order to give financial help to the needy people in his community. Also, these are the most prominent symbol of compassion in Les Misérables, and they shed a light that always brings love and hope. When Bishop gave Valjean his silver candlesticks, he is literally passing on this light as he tells Valjean that he must promise to become an honest man. Subsequently, the candlesticks reappear frequently to remind Valjean of his duty. When Valjean dies, the candlesticks shine brightly across his face, a symbolic affirmation that he has attained his goal of love and compassion. The appearance of the candlesticks here suggests that Jean Valjean has succeeded in keeping his promise to the Bishop and has lived a good life.

Les Misérables showed how God’s love prevails light over dark. Forgiveness, sacrifices, and persistence are indeed evident throughout the film; delivering the clear message to the viewers. Unknowingly, Les Misérables was a movie produced in the year of 2012 but it seems that it was produced only this year since it has an astounding cinematography and as well as visual effects. The events were very unpredictable and it indeed grabs the attention of the audience. Additionally, the performing artists depicted their individual characters impressively. In terms of imagery, the film utilized to show moments of rebirth and a new and positive beginning, specifically in the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, and Cosette. As for Jean Valjean, his major turning point as a character was shown when the Bishop gives Jean Valjean some silverware. With the grace of the bishop, he turns from the darkness toward the good of God. These candlesticks and his promise to the bishop served as guide of light on his path to redemption. Generally, the film was incredible and worth viewing.

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