Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, English dubbed. This 1982 adaption, directed by Robert Hossein and starring Lino Ventura and Jean Carmet, is French filmmaking at its finest. This haunting masterpiece is packed with fine acting, cinematic artistry, wonderful costume design, and beautiful sets.
The movie? A 5...one of the best versions of Les Miserables I have seen, and I've seen most (if not all) of them. Quite true to the book (even the story of Marius' father!). Did this version inspire the musical? or maybe the reverse? Check out the character of Gavroche, it would be interesting to know which came first (technically the musical started around 1980 so could have been first). The English dubbing wasn't all that bad as far as those things go. The ending seemed a bit cut short, though; maybe I'll read the book again. This movie has been on my "to watch" list for years, I'm glad I finally made time for it!
The captions? A 2, at best, and only that for having them at all. "mumbles" apparently substitutes for all names, places, most French dialog that wasn't translated (most of it rather simple). Lazy on the part of the captioner, certainly there is a copy of the book available somewhere?
The options? Nonexistent. For sure there should be a French track (or French captions?) available. Maybe it's a matter of Amazon tech catching up...?
I understand that people bought DVDs that were not what they thought they were and didn't play properly, and for that they marked this "item" down...but the 1982 French movie/miniseries that runs over 3 hours played well over Amazon streaming for me and I really enjoyed it. Highly recommended for any Les Mis fan.
This review is for Les Miserables - 1982. This DVD stars Lino Ventura and Jean Carmet with Robert Hossein directing. Jean-Paul Belmondo is NOT in this film!
****Please note that many of the reviews for this item are about an entirely different movie that stars Jean-Paul Belmondo - However, THIS DVD DOES NOT HAVE JEAN PAUL BELMONDO in it!!! That was an entirely different movie that was made in 1995. I guess Amazon mistakenly transferred or default assigned those reviews to the wrong movie.
I have seen several Les Miserables movies - 1934 French at 4 1/2 hours, 1935 Frederick March, the 1952 Michael Rennie, 1978 Tony Perkins, the 1995 French with Jean-Paul Belmondo, the 1998 Liam Neeson and this 1982 French TV version. I have not yet seen the 2000 French TV mini-series version. All told I would rank this particular 1982 French version as very good overall. The acting is good and the inclusion of many story elements often left out of much shorter versions makes this one a decent choice. It is worth viewing.
HOWEVER, a couple of comments must be made about the film transfer to DVD:
(1) First of all you get two DVD-Rs - part one and part two - each runs about 90 minutes, so in total the entire movie runs more than 180 minutes. I believe the original ran even longer as a French TV mini-series. But the buyer should be aware that these are not silver discs, but rather the same sort of purple colored DVD-R discs commonly used for bootlegs. In addition the transfer rate on these discs is very low - only about 3.5 versus other DVDs that are typically around 7.5-8 - and if you look at the purple side of the disc you can see that only half of the disc has even been encoded - no wonder the transfer rate is so low. Even so, I had no problems actually playing these DVD-R discs on my regular region 1 North American DVD player. The labels affixed to these discs are cheap and generic white with black lettering. And the on-screen menus are also cheap and generic... as if somebody created this whole package in a home workshop. While these discs sort of resemble bootlegs, in all probability one has to suppose that they are legitimate as Amazon carries them. But, who knows for sure? In any case this is currently the ONLY way to obtain this movie in the region 1 marketplace.
(2) The picture quality is sharp and clear with excellent color. The dialogue is dubbed in English and they did a pretty good job as far as those things go - the voices are clear and generally consistent in both tone and delivery with the characters they are dubbing. So far, so good; but as others have noted, there are no subtitles and no opportunity to choose the original French language - it is just not there. So, you just get dubbed English without any sort of subtitles... no other options.
(3) There is a problem with "motion" on these DVDs... whenever the scenes have significant action - when people are moving about or if the camera is in motion there is a very slight jerkiness to the visuals - it is just not as smooth as it should be. I should emphasize that 80 percent of the time this is not noticeable, but occasionally this flaw does makes itself very apparent. Fortunately, throughout most of this movie the actors are relatively stationary and the camera does not move very much. How did this happen? My guess is that the original source of this DVD was a European PAL formatted DVD. Somebody then took that PAL format and transferred it to the American NTSC DVD format... which would also tend to explain why the transfer rate is so low and why only half of the actual disc space available was even used. I have other DVDs where this same sort of jerky motion resulted because the original source was a European PAL format. What they needed to do was to get the original 1982 film itself and use that as the source instead of trying to shortcut the transfer by copying from a European PAL format DVD to an American NTSC format DVD.
In summary, I think Amazon should have informed us that these DVDs are DVD-Rs instead of silver discs. They do this with most other DVD-R movies, but not with this one? Also, I suppose it would have been nice if some sort of disclaimer could have alerted us that the source transfer was not optimal... but then again that is what the comments section is for - right? You are reading about it here - right?
So... can you watch this decent version of this story and still enjoy it even though the picture is not 100% perfect? Well, some of you will not care while others will be more picky - you know who you are. It is a good film on it's own terms and I wholeheartedly recommend it on that basis (besides, I know of no other way to be able to view it other than this particular DVD-R issue); however, if they ever reissue this DVD with a better transfer, in the original longer length and with subtitles and a choice of audio (English language or French language) then I would be the first in line to get one.
The bottom line is that I sent these discs back for a full refund.
I thought it well done - a counterpoint to the musical version. I liked the characters, the realism.... but now I want to see the musical again. This one is so serious... felt like I'd lived the period. Not a date flick, but maybe a good choice for family film night (parents should preview, and prepare to answer questions.) Home schoolers could use this as a profitable part of a holistic study of French (vs American) revolutionary hopes, wars, and aftermaths. The US got it right, then. Now, are we becoming like France, then?
A masterpiece of universal litterature. And the exceptional talent of Hossein to render the atmosphere of the book. And the immense talent of Lino Ventura, so far the best Jean Valjean that I have ever seen. I saw the original version in the '80s. The dvd renders the film version and the drama and intensity remains on the wide flat TV screen