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Les Misérables is a 1995 movie written and directed by Claude Lelouch. Set in Francemarker during World War II, it concerns a poor and illiterate man Henri Fortin (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who is introduced to Victor Hugo's classic novel Les Misérables and begins to see parallels between it and his own life.

Plot

The film starts with the accusation of the father of Henri Fortin, a chauffeur, for the death of his boss, who committed suicide. During the process and imprisonment, Henri's mother finds a job in a tavern at a beach in Normandy where Henri sees a movie about Les Misérables for the first time. While attempting to escape with another prisoner, Henri's father dies. Henri's mother, upon receiving the news, commits suicide. Henri grows up an orphan and learns boxing.

The film continues with the encounter of a ballerina Elisa and André Ziman (a young Jewish journalist who studies law) after an interpretation of a Les Misérables ballet. Later, during World War II, in an attempt to reach the Swiss border to escape from the Nazis, the Ziman family, which now include their daughter Salomé, meet Henri Fortin, who owns a moving company. They start talking about the work of Victor Hugo. During the effort to cross the French-Swiss border, the Ziman family entrust their daughter to Henri and register her in a Catholic school managed by nuns. The Zimans later find themselves ambushed, while trying to cross the frontier with other fugitives. Elisa is arrested and a wounded André finds shelter with the farmers who find him.

Henri takes part in the French Resistance with old friends, a gang of house robbers who take advantage of the surprise bombings. Elisa is part of a group of women who are forced to entertain Nazi and France's occupation offices. Due to her unwillingness to cooperate, she is sent to a concentration camp. After a bombing attack against a train which carried money of the Vichy France, Fortin and his mates travel to Normandy, to visit the tavern where he lived during his childhood. The next day sees the first actions of the D-Day invasion and Fortin helps the Allied forces to capture the beach, saving the life of the tavern owner's son, Marius.

At the end of the war, Henri accepts the offer to run a resort by the sea, in Normandy. There he receives a letter from the Ziman's daughter, Salomé, who has nobody else to contact, and he takes her with him to the resort (which he named Jean Valjean Château). Her mother, Elisa, arrives later, after surviving a concentration camp in Poland.

The past catches up with Fortin, however, when a former Vichy police agent accuses him of being part of his old gang during the war and robbing and burning a Vichy train. He is put in prison to await his trial. Meanwhile André Ziman manages to escape the farmers, who have turned into Thénardier-like wanna-be kidnappers, who intend to keep him secluded and live off his bank account. After reuniting with his family, Ziman represents his friend Fortin at his trial and wins.

The film ends with the civil marriage of Salomé and Marius, presided by Fortin, now the mayor, in the presence of the Zimans and the mother superior of the Catholic school who sheltered Salomé. André Ziman quotes Victor Hugo: "The best of our lives is yet to come."

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