Taglines: Fight. Dream. Hope. Love.
Les Misérables is a British epic romantic musical historical drama film produced by Working Title Films and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. The film is directed by Tom Hooper, scripted by William Nicholson, Boublil, Schönberg, and Herbert Kretzmer, and stars an ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried.
The film tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who, inspired by a kindly bishop, decides to turn his life around. He eventually becomes mayor of a town in France and owner of a factory in that town. He is always alert to the risk of being captured again by police inspector Javert, who is ruthless in hunting down law-breakers, believing they cannot change for the better. One of Valjean’s factory workers, Fantine, blames him for her being cast into a life of prostitution. When she dies, he feels responsible and agrees to take care of her illegitimate daughter, Cosette — though he must first escape Javert. Later, when Cosette is grown, they are swept up in the political turmoil in Paris, which culminates in the Paris Uprising of 1832.
Attempts to adapt a Les Misérables film from the stage musical have taken place since the late 1980s. In June 2011, from a screenplay by Nicholson, production of the film officially began with Hooper and Mackintosh serving as director and producer, and the main characters were cast later that year. Principal photography commenced in March 2012, and took place in various English locations, including Greenwich, London, Chatham, Winchester, and Portsmouth; as well as in Gourdon, France.
Les Misérables premiered in London on 5 December 2012, and was released on 25 December 2012 in the United States, on 26 December 2012 in Australia, and on 11 January 2013 in the United Kingdom. The film received generally favourable reviews, with many critics praising the cast, and Jackman, Hathaway, Redmayne, and Barks being the most often singled out for praise. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Jackman and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for Hathaway.
It has also won four British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), including the Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Hathaway). It received eight Academy Award nominations including Best Picture (the first musical nominated since 2002’s winner Chicago) and Best Actor for Jackman, and won three, for Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway.
About the Story
In 1815, convict Jean Valjean is released on parole by prison guard Javert after serving a nineteen-year sentence for stealing a loaf of bread and numerous escape attempts. Valjean is refused employment and driven out of every town because of his paroled status. He is offered food and shelter by the Bishop of Digne, but Valjean steals his silver during the night. When he is captured by the authorities, the Bishop tells them that the silver was given as a gift, securing Valjean’s release. The Bishop urges Valjean to do something worthwhile with his life. Moved by the Bishop’s grace, Valjean breaks his parole and vows to start a new life under a new identity.
Eight years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil, Pas-de-Calais, while Javert has been assigned as his new chief of police. In their initial meeting, Javert recognizes but cannot place his face, but suspects who Valjean is after witnessing him lift a heavy cart to free a trapped man. Meanwhile, Fantine, one of Valjean’s workers, is discovered by the other women working there to send money to her illegitimate daughter, Cosette, who lives with the unscrupulous Thénardiers and their daughter Éponine.
The foreman, angry that Fantine has spurned his advances, dismisses her for promiscuity. In a desperate attempt to support her daughter, Fantine sells her hair and teeth and eventually becomes a prostitute. She is arrested by Javert after attacking an abusive customer, but is saved by Valjean, who has her hospitalized and watches over her.
Later, Valjean learns that a man believed to be him has been arrested. Because of this, Javert tries to resign his duties, but Valjean refuses, saying that he only did his job. Finally unable to accept that an innocent man could be condemned in his place, Valjean reveals his identity to the court. He returns to the hospital, where he promises Fantine that he will look after her daughter before she died.
Javert arrives to take Valjean into custody, but Valjean pleads for enough time to rescue Cosette. After a brief fight, Valjean jumps into a river to escape. He finds the Thénardiers, pays Fantine’s debts, and leaves with Cosette, promising to be like a father to her. Valjean and Cosette flee to Paris. The Thénardiers wonder whether they demanded enough money from Valjean, and how much more money he might have. After Valjean and Cosette escapes to a convent, Javert vows to bring the escaped convict to justice.
Nine years later, there is increasing poverty in Paris. Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only government official sympathetic towards the poor, is nearing death; therefore a large group of young revolutionary students, known as the Friends of the ABC, plan a rebellion against the French monarchy. The students consist of Marius Pontmercy, Enjolras, Gavroche, Grantaire, Courfeyrac, Combeferre, Joly, and Jean Prouvaire. Marius lives in a small room near the Thénardiers and has become friendly with their daughter, Éponine, who fell deeply in love with him but was merely considered his best friend.
When Valjean and Cosette, now a young woman, are out giving alms to the poor, Marius catches a glimpse of Cosette and instantly falls in love with her. The Thénardiers also see Valjean and believe that they now have their chance to extract more money from him. Valjean and Thénardier have an argument and Javert arrives in the street to break it up. Valjean and Cosette slip away before Javert can recognize them. Thénardier cooks up a plot to rob Valjean. Marius pleads with Éponine to find out where Cosette lives so he can see her again.
At the ABC cafe, Enjolras is rallying the students when they receive word from Gavroche that Lamarque has died. Éponine leads Marius to Cosette. The two profess their love for one another, while Éponine laments that her secret love for Marius will go unrequited. As Marius and Cosette conclude their talk, Thénardier’s gang arrives at Valjean’s home to capture him for a reward from Javert. Éponine screams to warn Valjean and Cosette. Thénardier is enraged at Éponine’s interference, and slaps her. Valjean decides to flee, unaware of Cosette’s desire for Marius. Cosette tries to talk him out of it, then asks him questions about her past, and his as well. Valjean refuses to tell her anything. She leaves a note for Marius to tell him why she’s leaving. Éponine finds Cosette’s letter to Marius, who is heartbroken to lose the love of his life so soon after he found her. He sends a farewell to Cosette and, having nothing left to live for, joins the revolution. Éponine joins too, disguised as a man, just to be near Marius. Enjolras urges the Parisians to full revolt.
The next day, the students interrupt Lamarque’s funeral procession and begin their revolt. They throw up barricades all over the city. Javert poses as a rebel in order to spy on them, but he is quickly exposed by street child Gavroche and captured. During the ensuing battle, Éponine saves Marius from blowing up the barricade at the cost of her own life. She gives Marius the letter Cosette wrote and professes her love to him before she dies in his arms, leaving Marius devastated and heartbroken at the loss of his best friend as well as the revelation of her feelings towards him.
Meanwhile, Marius asks Gavroche to deliver a letter for Cosette and it is instead given to Valjean. He intercepts the letter from Marius to Cosette and learns of their love. He abandons his plans to flee the country and instead goes to the barricade to protect Marius. After saving Enjolras from a sniper, he is allowed to execute Javert. However, when the two are alone, Valjean frees Javert. Javert leaves, confused by this act of mercy from a criminal whom he holds in low regard. The students settle down for the night and reminisce. Enjorlas tells the other students to stay awake in case the enemy strikes unexpectedly in the night, but he tells Marius to get some sleep, knowing he’s still too devastated over losing Éponine to stay awake.
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Inspector Javert), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette), Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier)
Screenplay by: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil
Production Design by: Eve Stewart
Cinematography by: Danny Cohen
Film Editing by: Chris Dickens, Melanie Oliver
Costume Design by: Paco Delgado
Set Decoration by: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Art Direction by: Grant Armstrong, Gary Jopling, Hannah Moseley, Su Whitaker
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2012