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Les Misérables is a film version of the Victor Hugo novel released in Francemarker on March 12 1958. Written by Michel Audiard and René Barjavel, the film was directed by Jean-Paul Le Chanois. It stars Jean Gabin as Jean Valjean.

It is one of the most complete and faithful adaptations, changing only a few plotpoints.

Differences from the book

  • Javert is not the son of a bohemian and a convict, but of a guard in the Toulon prison. He has only seen Valjean as a small boy.
  • The bishop is presented after Valjean's release. However, he is introduced similarly as in the book.
  • Valjean really robs Petit-Gervais. In the book, he accidentally puts his foot on the fallen coin and hardly realises what is going on and awakes from a sort of dream after the boy has left. In the movie, he snatches the boy's coin from the air and refuses to give it back.
  • Fantine's backstory is only shown in flashback after her arrest and release and only shows her voyage from Paris to Montfermeil.
  • Valjean wants to take Cosette already the evening after his arrival and Thénardier manages to persuade him to stay. The inn becomes a trap when Javert arrives. Valjean and Cosette have to escape from the inn.
  • Valjean and Cosette go straight to the convent. They are admitted with the help of Sister Simplice, who told Valjean only to mention her name to get in.
  • Valjean and Cosette get to know the Thénardiers/Jondrettes in Paris after paying a loaf of bread that Éponine stole.
  • Valjean is sent away by Marius directly after confessing his true identity.
  • The movie has a rather light atmosphere, the tragedy of the plot is not as underlined as in the 1985 adaptation. For example, Fantine looks surprisingly well and fit for someone dying of consumption.


Minor plots included

  • A closer presentation of the bishop, more than just showing him long enough to forgive Valjean for stealing his silver
  • Valjean's release is shown in detail.
  • Valjean really has a black jet and bead factory.
  • Valjean owns a file concealed in a coin.
  • Javert arrests Jean Valjean after Fantine's death and meets Sister Simplice as he searches for the escaped Valjean in the latter's house.
  • The local fairy tale from Montfermeil, that the devil has buried his treasure in the forest and will come from time to time to get or add some is mentioned. Also Valjean's role as being mistaken for this devil.
  • Valjean fetches Cosette on Christmas Eve and buys the doll for her after watching the Thénardiers forbidding her to play with their daughter's doll.
  • Marius father is introduced as well as Marius discovering the truth about his father.
  • The love story between Cosette and Marius takes part mostly the same way as in the book: They only notice each other after some time, then Marius starts dressing better for his walks until Valjean remarks him, on which Marius falls for every trap set for him by Valjean.
  • The attack on Valjean in the Gorbeau house is exactly as in the novel.
  • Most of the barricade scenes are as in the novel.
  • Thénardier meets Marius in a ridiculous disguise and proves to him with the help of newspaper clippings that all his thoughts about Valjean are wrong.


Cast



Notes

  1. Les Misérables (1958 film) at IMDB retrieved March 30 2008


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