Thursday, December 27, 2012

You Need to See Les Miserables


I can honestly say Les Miserables is the best musical I’ve ever seen. And second only to The Passion of Christ for having the best and clearest presentation of God’s grace and forgiveness demonstrated in a motion picture. Les Miz touched my soul and kept me on the edge of my seat with tears of joy running down my cheeks through the majority of the film.

At first, I didn’t want to sit through another musical whose whole story was told through a bunch of songs.  Who wants to sit through an opera you can’t understand? Not me. 

I was afraid it would be the same disappointment I felt after watching Phantom of the Opera – all singing and a storyline that was impossible to follow.  I was wrong.  Les Miz is easy to follow if you know a few key points.  If you are not familiar with the story, allow me to give you the briefest of brief “Cliff’s notes.” 

Just after the French revolution, a thief, Jean Valjean, is paroled after spending nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread.  Upon his release, the public continues to treat him like the prisoner he was except for a priest who forgives him for stealing from his parish.  Not only does the priest forgive Valjean, but the priest also claims his soul for God.  With this forgiveness, Valjean becomes a new creation (Eph 5:8).  And as a demonstration of his new life, he tears up his parole papers, changes his name, and becomes a respectable businessman.  But the law, in the person of Javert, continues to pursue Valjean because he didn’t follow through with his parole.   

After a series of events, Valjean ends up caring for the daughter of a former employee and raises the child as his own after paying off the innkeepers who were “caring for her.”  The blessing of forgiveness constantly motivates ValJean to choose to love, to help, and to forgive.  He even chooses to return to prison in an attempt to save a man who is falsely accused of Valjean’s crime. 

The story has many layers, but if you understand this simple explanation, you will understand and love this mature story of grace versus law.  Now you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of the story and songs. 

What truly made this film magical was having the actors sing “live” while acting in their scenes, instead of lip-syncing the lyrics recorded in a studio.  This unique technique intensified the energy and passion of the film.  It actually made the play came alive.  I didn’t feel I was I watching a Broadway musical with theater vocals.  I felt as if I was there, not just in the movie, but I was transported to France in the early 1800’s watching common people communicate with beautiful and heartfelt songs. 

When Russell Crowe is your weakest link, you know you are watching a special film.  I knew Hugh Jackman had Broadway experience so I expected him to do justice to his part. Which he did!  But who knew Anne Hathaway could make me believe she would actually sell her hair to pay the innkeeper to watch her daughter.

She had me believing her soul had died because of how she was forced to live.  She and Jackman deserve Academy Awards for their performances and the movie should win best picture.  I don’t see how anyone could do a better job than Hathaway as a supporting actress.  I’m afraid the Hollywood voters will discount the quality of the film and performances however, because the overt message of grace and forgiveness.

One of the final scenes illustrates the premise of the whole movie.  Javert, who represents the law, is unable to understand the underserved love and forgiveness shown him by Valjean.  He is unable to reconcile forgiveness with the law, which leads him to cry out, “Either there is law or there is grace.”  To which I say, Amen!

This film deserves its PG-13 rating for an intense storyline and a couple of suggestive scenes.  If your idea of a great movie is one with chase scenes, car crashes, and toys that transform into cars and trucks, this isn’t a movie for you.  Those movies may provide some excitement but the thrill is gone by the time you get home. But Les Miz will nourish your soul while giving you a glimpse God’s grace in a story that will set a bench mark for a quality movie in your life. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree, fantastic movie. The film has already won several awards and is continuing to be nominated: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/awards
    Also another message to note is that life is not fair. In contrast to Valjean's repentance and good life, love of fellow man, he continues to face consequences from his earlier conviction. The depiction of poverty in this film had me weeping, especially since our entitlement driven nation doesn't understand true poverty. And the potential for oppression is still alive 200 years later.
    I for one love musical theatre and am a Phantom Phan, but we can agree to disagree on that point. Blessings, Susan

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