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Les Miserables

4.3 out of 5 stars 799 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Victor Hugo's stirring novel of redemption and revolution is brought to life by the artistry of director Billie August and his brilliant cast. Liam Neeson stars as Jean Valjean, a heartless convict who is transformed by a single act of mercy. Uma Thurman is Fantine, the vulnerable prostitute who begs Valjean to raise her only child, Cosette (Claire Danes). And Oscar(r)-winner Geoffrey Rush (Best Actor, Shine, 1996) is an ambitious policeman determined to return Valjean to prison. A truly epic film, Les Miserables is magnificent! A compelling and powerful human drama with terrific performances by Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.

Frenchman Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson), imprisoned for stealing bread, is paroled after nearly two decades of hard labor. A gift of silver candlesticks from a kindly priest helps him begin anew. Forging a decent and profitable existence, he finds success as a businessman and as the mayor of a small town. He even takes in a pregnant young woman (Uma Thurman) and raises her daughter as his own. When a former prison guard (Geoffrey Rush) recognizes Valjean, his past catches up to him. Director Bille August culls mesmerizing performances from his cast, but loses us with an ending that panders to teen audiences. The focus shifts dramatically, and uncomfortably, from the haunted Neeson and his hawk-like pursuer, to his daughter (Claire Danes) and her romance with a handsome revolutionary. After this narrative shift, the script leaves behind the Victor Hugo classic's themes of revenge and redemption to focus improbably on teen angst--hardly what Hugo had on his mind. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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Product Details

  • Actors: Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes, Hans Matheson
  • Directors: Bille August
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 3, 1998
  • Run Time: 136 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (799 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 076781505X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,281 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Les Miserables" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Les Misérables - 1998 film version - formal review
This newest film version of Les Misérables presents this classic story as the grand sweeping epic that it is, yet diverges from the original story, leaving much to be desired. Fans of Victor Hugo's beloved novel, published in 1862, and of the popular musical, produced in 1985, may be disappointed in this movie's truncated version of the story. However, the film manages to keep intact the main themes of Hugo's story of love, mercy, and redemption.
As a movie in its own right, this film deserves the highest praise. As historical drama it is of the highest quality. The movie portrays Jean Valjean as a true hero, a person whom we can admire because of his courage and self-sacrificing commitment to godly principle. The acting is excellent -- Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush star as Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, and both simply become their characters. Uma Thurman gives an exceptional performance as Fantine. The soundtrack for the film is beautiful as well.
However, this movie cannot be evaluated separately from the novel and musical (which follows the novel quite closely and has gained a wide following of devoted fans). In terms of faithfulness to the original story, the film falls short. The first half of the movie follows the novel quite well; much of the screenplay is taken almost directly from the book, and no important characters or events are removed. Unfortunately, however, the first half of the movie covers less than one third of the story. In the second half, the movie diverges widely from the original.
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By A Customer on September 21, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is a good movie. I mean, not badly cast. Lovingly done. The acting is great. Yeah, you should enjoy it. Assuming you know absolutely nothing about Victor Hugo's original story. The truth is, if I didn't know better, I'd say whoever wrote the script never read Hugo's masterpiece and based it completely on the 1935 version. Come to think of it, I don't know better. That's probably exactly what happened.
I never thought I'd say this, but I am so glad Hugo didn't have to live to see this movie.
If you've read the book, you will hate this film. TRUST me. The plot, especially toward the end, is mercilessly butchered and rewritten. At some points it becomes utterly unrecognizable. Many of the revisions completely miss or even destroy the essence of characters, and some do not even make sense, the movie ending with Jean Valjean jubilant over the death of Javet, whose life he has made an enormous sacrifice to save.
Likewise, Javert would never attack Cosette; he was obsessively professional, not cruel. Nor would end his life (with minimal explanation, no less) in front of Valjean. Marius would NEVER act like Enjolras (oh, I forgot, there IS no Enjolras). Neither Marius NOR Enjolras would smile at remarks about making love to Cosette, so I find it hard to believe that some mutant hybrid Marjolras would. Cosette would never consider leaving Marius, her soulmate, to stay with Valjean, her adoptive father. And above all, Jean Valjean would NEVER, EVER fall in love with Fantine. The mere suggestion of this limits the portrayal of his charity to people he takes a special interest in.
Small variations are to be expected in any film adaptation of a book, but these all completely distort characters. The people who made this movie may have gotten the message (love, charity, etc.), but they missed the point.
If you've never read the book, see this movie. It is touching and carries a good message.
But it is not Les Misérables.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
If Victor Hugo were alive today he would be a multi-millionaire considering how many times his most famous novel has been filmed by Hollywood over the years. It took him 17 years to write the novel and it's still in print so he would also have a steady income. Overall I think he would have liked all the film versions of "Les Miserables" going all the way back to the earliest known silent version released by the Fox Film Co in 1919. There have been many film versions since, both English and French productions. I've always liked this 1998 version starring Liam Neeson(Jean Valjean) and Geoffrey Rush(Inspector Javert) ever since I saw it during it's original release in the theatre. I was hoping that it would someday be released on blu ray and got my wish earliar this week. I can only assume it's because of the new musical version that's hitting the theatres with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in the leads. I have both the 1935 and 1952 B&W versions that 20th Century-Fox released a number of years ago and have seen the current Broadway musical twice so I'm very familar with the story. I won't go over it but it's the ultimate story of redemption, faith and love which is something that everyone needs in these troubled times. Those themes are certainly brought out in this beautifully restored blu ray film directed by Bille August. Jorgen Persson's cinematography looks stunning on blu ray(aspect ratio: 2.40.1) and the Paris and Czech Republic locations have never looked better. The audio is superb too. The folks at Sony deserve a lot of credit for making this blu ray pop off the screen. The principle actors(Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes) give some of the best performances of their careers. The scenes between Neeson and Thurman's characters are both touching and heartwrenching.Read more ›
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