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After spending nearly twenty years imprisoned for stealing bread, Jean Valjean (Gérard Depardieu) vows to become a better man and regain his place in society. Indebted to her dying mother, he rescues the orphaned Cosette (Virginie Ledoyen) but is forced to flee Paris upon being discovered by the merciless police inspector Javert (John Malkovich). Years later, as
revolution rages around them, Cosette falls in love with a young nobleman, whom Valjean saves in one final act of heroism.
Top customer reviews
It's probably unrealistic to expect too much from movies, especially if you've read the books. Elmer Gantry had great acting by Jean Simmons, Burt Lancaster, and Shirley Jones, but only portrayed a tiny portion of the book, which was excellent and portrayed religion for the fraud that it is, and Elmer for the power-hungry, opportunistic scoundrel that he was.
I saw this version on Fox Movie Channel around 2000-2001 and was mesmerized by it. I HAD to have it and when I finally found it back then in Europe I bought a player (the Oppo unit) that plays it.
One can see from this production why Gerard Depardieu is revered in Europe. His portrayal of Jean Valjean is stellar from the hard ex-con, winding through life to the kind, sacrificing, loving giant, and protector of the sweet Cosette. The final scene with them will break your heart when he thinks he is seeing an angel as he is dying.
Imagine for a moment what kind of a persistent hound John Malkovich is as inspector Javert who would imprison his own mother for walking on the wrong side of the street. When he speaks in this film, you are taken aback.
Fantine's character played by Charlotte Gainsbourg is done so well that it's actually a hard watch seeing what she has to endure.
Marius is wonderful with his initial infatuation and later obsession with Cosette and finally with how he treats her so tender and lovingly as she so richly deserved.
I could go on and on but if you know the novel, every aspect of it here will captivate you. If you are a "deep" type, you will have several tear sessions and this DVD will become one of your cherished possessions. I think it is 3 hours, maybe a little more but that gives the director the leeway to keep important detail intact. Some will say it is too long. If you're into the intimate detail in scenes, you will enjoy every minute.
This Les Miserables version is not a musical, it is not a scaled down version, it is not a "Hollywoodish" (for lack of a better term) version. It is a reference standard of the novel that will leave a permanent impression in your heart and mind. Unreservedly recommended with the highest respect.