When I first read this masterpiece by Victor Hugo when I was just fourteen, It had an everlasting impact on my mind and my young brain taught me that forgiveness is perhaps the strongest weapon man has been blessed with and the gift of forgiveness permeates throughout this outstanding work. This is not a book or a movie but a great lesson to learn. There are some unforgettable scenes in this book - for example, the initial scenes with the police and the priest and the final scene at River Seine.
Liam Neeson has turned in one of his finest performances as Jean Valjean. He is superb in this role. I watched the entire movie on the edge of my drawing room seat. Hugo has given us a master work that shows us how dignity, power and forgiveness can mould our lives. Uma Thurman as Fantine has also done well. Claire Danes is brilliant but the standout performance in this film is that of Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Javert.
I am impressed by the direction of Bille August. Rafael Yglesias has adapted this brilliant 1862 Hugo classic in the screenplay. The narrative is about the pursuit of an escaped convict, Jean Valjean by Inspector Javert. Valjean is originally an honest man who is condemned for stealing just a loaf of braed to feed his starving sister and her family. The tale picks up after twenty years of Valjean's escape from the prison and how he becomes a respectable mayor in the Village of Vigau.
Compared with this well acted version, the musical that was released last year is a big joke with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. I shut the movie off after the first half an hour. Les Miserables will turn into a miserable tale if you try to make it into a musical. Only background music has an important role to play in a tale like this and Basil Pouledoris has done a great job in the Bille August version of 1998.
This version of Victor Hugo's masterpiece is well acted with good production values. Geoffrey Rush as Inspector Javert is magnificent. Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean is excellent. Uma Thurman and Claire Danes are good. The drama is given its punch by excellent photography and superb music score by Basil Pouledouris. This drama is also popularly known as 'The Bishop's Candlesticks'. The Frenchman, Jean Valjean, is imprisoned for stealing bread and is paroled after nearly two decades only to be struck by twists of fortune when he tries to rob silver cutlery from a Bishop's house that changes his life forever turning him to be a rich benefactor and ultimately a Mayor. Fate does not leave him in peace there. He is hunted down by Inspector Javert and the climax of this master tale is heart wrenching. Once again, an extra ordinary performance by the master actor Geoffrey Rush. Thumbs up to Basil Pouledouris.