June 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ (DVD)

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Two men in period dressVictor Hugo’s Les Miserables. 2 DVDs. approx. 3 hrs. Prod. by Upside TV/France. Dist. by Worldwide Academic Media. 2010, 2012 release. ISBN 978-1-59163-942-8. $19.95.
Gr 9 Up–Once again, Victor Hugo’s 1862 story of perseverance, love, and personal redemption finds its way onto film. A timeless masterpiece, the story follows the ex-convict Jean Valjean as he emerges from a 19-year prison sentence and returns to an outside world that is just as cruel. Driven by a desire to reform, Valjean is caught between living virtuously and bringing social justice to a world of human misery. The story spans the tumultuous years from the French defeat at Waterloo in 1815 to the social revolutions in the years 1830 and 1832. This 1982 adaptation, directed by Robert Hossein and starring Lino Ventura and Jean Carmet, is French filmmaking at its finest. Ventura’s Valjean is an excellent portrayal of the man seeking to live honestly, and Michel Bouquet’s performance truly renders the stony qualities and relentless nature of Inspector Javert. While the audio (dubbed into English) is a bit distracting, this haunting masterpiece is packed with cinematic artistry, wonderful costume design, and beautiful sets. An excellent addition to high school media centers and public libraries of all sizes.–Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL