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Les Misérables is a 1982 Frenchmarker drama film directed by Robert Hossein. It is one of the numerous screen adaptation of the eponymous novel by Victor Hugo.

Plot Summary

This movie is one the most faithful adaptions of the book. A short list of differences from the novel is listed below. For details, see the book's plot summary.

Differences from the novel

  • The film starts with Valjean's release from prison, which is followed by the opening credits and then jumps to the presentation of the bishop, which is beginning of the novel
  • Javert is shown (though not named) in the opening scene, the book introduces him in Montreuil.
  • Fantine is introduced in Montreuil, her former life in Paris is left out.
  • Fantine dies of her illness before Javert arrives to arrest Valjean. In the book, it is Javert telling her that she will never see her daughter again that kills her.
  • Valjean is not sent back to the galleys, he manages to escape Javert after Fantine's death.
  • Valjean's escape from the convent in a coffin is cut out.
  • Valjean dies alone and without ever having seen Cosette again, making his death even more tragic. Cosette and Marius arrive the fraction of a second too late
  • The last scene is a flashback to Valjean's release from prison, with a minor change in dialogue: The first time, Javert says: "You are free."; the second time, it's: "Now, you are free."

Minor Subplots included in the movie

  • Valjean's arrival in Digne is lengthily depicted, we even see him going into the townhall to have his passport signed.
  • Petit-Gervais is included
  • We see Valjean lifting the cart off Fauchelevent and we also learn that he sent him to the convent in Paris afterwards.
  • One of the few adaptions, that does not change the names of the three convicts who recognize Valjean (Brevet, Chenildieu and Cochpaille) and in which Valjean proves his identity in the same way as he does in the book.
  • Valjean leaves the convent for the same reason as he does in the book.
  • The attack in the House Gorbeau is included and takes place in nearly exactly the same way as it does in the book.
  • The romance between Marius and Cosette takes place nearly the same way as in the book.
  • Javert's letter to the Prefect is read aloud by Javert as we see him taking the coach towards the bridge.
  • Valjean confesses his true identity to Marius after the wedding and dies of grief at the end.
  • Most dialogue is taken word for word from the book.
  • While some scenes are anachronistic (e.g. the prison), the over all impression is a very dark and sinister one, fitting the book very well.



  • Robert Hossein also directed the original 1981 Paris production of the musical: this film and the musical are the only adaptions, where Fantine dies before Javert's arrival; the falling of the barricade is depicted in very slow motion as it is in the musical and Gavroche's song "C'est la faute à..." is sung to same melody in this film as it is in the musical.
  • The actor who plays Chenildieu in this adaption plays Cochepaille in the 2000 miniseries.

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