From Page To Screen (39) Les Misérables

For this weeks From Page To Screen, I have decided to cover Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

First let's discuss the book. Below is the cover.

Now for a bit of back story in case some of you aren't familiar with the novel. Les Misérables is a novel written by author Victor Hugo. The book was originally released in 1862 by A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Cie. Les Misérables is a French historical epic that spans a total of 17 years. While critical reactions for Les Misérables usually landed on the negative side it was a commercial success. Fun Fact: The Character Jean Valjean is based loosely on the life of Eugène François Vidocq, an ex-convict who became a successful businessman widely noted for his social engagement and philanthropy.


Let's take a look at the characters now, shall we.

Jean Valjean (Monsieur Madeleine)- Convicted for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's seven starving children Jean Valjean is sent to prison for five years. Upon his parole from prison nineteen years later Jean Valjean finds himself shunned from society. Realizing he will never be able to live the honest life he wants as a former convict Valjean reinvents himself by assuming a new identity.

Javert- A police inspector who doggedly pursues Valjean. He believes it is only a matter of time before Valjean returns to his thieving ways.

Fantine- An unwed mother who tries to do her best for her daughter. After her lover abandons her Fantine winds up working in a factory. However, due to being an unwed mother she is fired and winds up selling herself as prostitute to pay for her daughters care. Eventually losing her health, two front teeth and hair in the process.

In case some of you aren't familiar with the movie, here is a bit of back story. Les Misérables was directed by Tom Hooper and was released December 5, 2012 by Universal Pictures. Les Misérables cost $61 to make and went on to earn over $437 million worldwide. Critical praise for Les Misérables was overwhelmingly positive and the film went on to be nominated for 8 Academy Awards although it only won 3. Fun Fact: Colm Wilkinson who originated the role of Jean Valjean on Broadway makes a cameo appearance as the Bishop of Digne in the film!

Major Differences Between The Book and Film
Valjean spends a night questioning whether or not he should reveal his true identity to save Champmathieu. He does so again in the antechamber of the courts of Arras.Valjean only questions himself once, while he is still at Montreui.
Valjean stays for one night at the inn. He gives Cosette some gifts to help her to stay out of trouble with Madame Thénardier. He offers to take her away..Valjean offers to take Cosette away immediately upon his arrival at the inn.
Valjean and Cosette stay for some time at the Gorbeau house in Paris. However, they are forced to find a new home when Javert picks up their trail.Javert surprises Cosette and Valjean at a police checkpoint as they enter Paris.
It is explained that Javert was born in prison. His mother was a gypsy fortune teller and his father worked in the galley.Javert casually mentions that he was born poor and among criminals.
After being rejected by a boarding house, Valjean first tries to sleep in the doghouse before being chased off. A kind woman passing by points out the Bishops house.Valjean wanders around aimlessly before a woman points out the Bishops house.
Fantine is fatally shocked to when she learns of Jean Valjeans true identity. Fantine passes away peacefully while thinking about Cosette.
The Bishops back story is told in great detail.This is omitted.
Valjean has to appeal to three convicts he used to know, Brevet, Cochepaille and Chenildieu in order to convince the court that he and not Champmathieu is, in fact the real, Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean shouts out his prisoner number and asks the courts to consult with Javert to prove his identity.
Valjean semi-consciously steals a forty-sou piece from a young Savoyard named Little Gervais. Valjean feels great regret at his actions and promises to become a better man because of it.Valjean is only influenced by the Bishop in becoming a better man.
Fantine's back story is detailed in depth as well as her deciding to leave Cosette with the Thénardiers.Fantine's first appearance is her working in a factory. We do not meet Cosette until much later.
A factory worker named Madame Victurnien spreads the rumour of Fantine having a child out of wedlock, the superintendent of the factory comes up to her a few days later and tells her that the Mayor has fired her.A factory worker snatches Fantines letter that has a request for money from the Thénardiers. The workers band together to have her fired, insisting she will bring trouble down upon them.
Valjean gives Thénardier 1500 francs for Cosette. Unsatisfied with the amount he chases after them demanding more.Valjean gives Thénardier 1500 francs for Cosette and he is satisfied with the amount.

The above mentioned are the major differences I noticed when the book was translated From Page To Screen. Which however do I prefer? While the film is visually exciting, I just cannot get past Anne Hathaway as Fantine. If she was omitted I think I would wholeheartedly love the movie more. On the other hand the book is great but it does spend an awful lot of time getting sidetracked and the pacing is at times super slow. Honestly, I think this week it is a draw. Both the film and book have positives and negatives neither really pulling ahead of the other. I must say I do enjoy Hugh Jackman as Valjean. He is quite lovely in the role. Definitely give the book a shot and watch the film at least once. However, if you want the best Les Misérables experience possible check out the DVD for the The 10th Anniversary Dream Cast.

Want to see for yourself? Check out the trailer below!

Well that about wraps up this weeks From Page To Screen. Have a recommendation for an upcoming From Page To Screen, let me know in the comments below! Have you read the book or watched the film? Which did you like better? Why? What is your favorite song or scene from Les Misérables?

Leave your answers in the comments below, I love to read your responses. Like what you see? Please share!


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