Fox Family Channel Presents "Les Miserables"

What can I say other than I was greatly impressed? When Ses first told me that Fox Family would be presenting a new version of Les Mis, I instantly panicked. Based on what I saw from '98 (Lud, Claire Danes... Cosette... ), I was not looking forward to another horrible adaptation of Victor Hugo's masterpiece. After my French teacher, and a billion members of the student body reminded me that Les Miserables would be showing on Fox Family, I decided, "What the hell? If I hate it, there'll be more people to add to my hit list."

Wow, it was a demmed good thing that I stole the TV to watch Les Mis. I was shaking when it started -- Ses told me that in France, the movie was supposed to run about six hours. (Just fyi, you could definately tell it was dubbed, but that didn't bother me much.) It was a Sunday, and of course, the movie didn't start until 6:00, I believe, so I knew I was going to miss most of it. Four hours later, Jai is sobbing as Jean Valjean dies. From the very beginning -- Toulon -- I could tell that I loved this adaptation of Les Mis. Gerald Depardieu was a fantastic Jean Valjean, despite some of the jokes that we were cracking about him. He fit the character *so* well... you could tell he enjoyed the role. John Malkovich was a great Javert, too, but I noticed half way through the movie that he lacked Javert's characteristic sideburns, which got to annoying me. (Don't ask *why*...) I loved his, "Get this woman out of my face!" line, to Fantine. He was stern, set on his task of finding Jean Valjean... his appearence did get to annoy me, but his voice, the way he carried himself... it just screamed Javert.

I wasn't as thrilled with Fantine, however. Charlotte Gainsbourg -- I didn't care for her at all. She didn't truly seem into her role, which I think is crucial in a story like Les Miserables. Luckily, she wasn't in the movie long enough for me to pay any heed to her. OH! The Thenardiers. First, when they introduced them, they were *so* right on when it came to the story -- including the swing off of the wagon! I practically burst into sobs of happiness there, because they had followed the story so demmed well! Christian Clavier was wonderful as Thenardier, Veronica Ferres was a great actress, but didn't look much like how Victor Hugo described Madame Thenardier. Much to my surprise and happiness -- they did include Azelma! Ye-haw! Also, they really got into the story when Fantine was forced to give up Cosette to their care. Both Little Eponine and Little Azelma (who was -- at the time -- a baby), were present, and Eponine had this sense of superiority toward Cosette. That contined along until Paris... (I know! I know, I'm skipping all sorts of details, but the movie was four hours long, and I don't have the time or patience to write about all I loved.)

Paris frightened me the most, however. I was terrified of what they would do to Les Amis, mostly because whenever I see the '98 film, I cringe. They entirely forget about Enjolras, and allow Marius to lead the rebellion! Anyway -- in this film, they *did* get Enjolras dead on, and they *did* get the rest of our boys! I was deleriously happy -- they *used* their *names*! Also, they included Eponine, and did a follow up with Azelma, *and* mentioned how the Thenardiers were "making a living". (Thenardier taking on different identities, etc.) They did the entire scene with Marius helping Javert, and then the gang capturing Jean Valjean and Cosette. (Sadly, they didn't do the "Would you like my hat?" line... demmit.) Okay, now that I've ranted... Marius... he kinda urked me. Enrico Lo Verso played Marius, and now that I see his name -- he's definately Italian. Anyway, there wasn't anything French about Marius -- he looked really Italian, and... honestly... ugly. >.< I mean, he was an alright actor, I guess, but nothing to write home about. However... Virginie Ledoyen played an amazing Older Cosette. I usually hate Cosette, but Virginie's performance was amazing... I actually felt bad for Cosette at times! What I thought was really important, however, was her appearence. In the book, Hugo emphasizes that Cosette becomes increasingly beautiful with age. Well, they seemed to have gotten that in the movie -- Virginie was so pretty... 'Twas weird.

Ah, the wonders of the Barricades. That was *so* out of the book, I was just... *thrilled*. When Gavroche (Jerome Hardelay, who in some shots, looked like a girl) was killed... yeek, I freaked out ... it was just so ... so something. When Les Amis died, I was crying.. yea... could you tell how happy I was with this movie? The ending was beautiful -- Javert *did* his 'leap', Marius and Cosette were married, and the Thenardiers did try to blackmail Marius. Jean Valjean did die in a hovel, and Marius and Cosette were there ... Cosette lit his candles for him one final time. However, I wish I could see it in French to see just what was cut. The scenery and costumes were amazing, the cast was just wonderful, and most important -- they followed the book down to every detail. Something I think was important in this... it was filmed in Europe, and was shown in France before it was in America. I think any adaptation of Les Miserables that started in Europe is bound to be a billion times better than it would be in America. Just a humble opinion. ~~Jai Graham

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