Thursday, 8 August 2013

7 Things I love about Les Miserables

It’s not good to be cynical all the time, so as kind of a sequel to my last post where i listed my hates of Les Mis this time I’ve decided to compile a list of seven things I love about Les Miserables (Why seven? Because it’s a sad commentary on our society that a person can find more to hate than to love about something).
Again I’m restricting this to the novel and the 2013 movie, because those are the two versions I like the most.

7: The overall message

Unless I’ve seriously missed the point of Les Miserables I think the overall message of the novel that it’s trying to convey is that a person can still be good even if they’ve done something bad and that faith can change the direction a persons life is to take. I like that message, it’s hopeful and comforting. I think there’s also some stuff in there about destiny and fate, maybe a lot of coincidence too….But the one thing I do get about Les Miserables is that you can be on the wrong side of the law, you can be the most downtrodden and you can be the poorest of your friends but you can still be the most important person in the entire universe as well.

God that book is so fucking inspiring! It’s a shame that I can’t force every single person on the planet to read it and know the joy I’ve felt from it. It really is the greatest novel ever written and I’ll challenge anyone to prove me wrong!

6: The revolutionaries (By which I mean Enjolras and his friends……except for Marius)

I really have a lot of respect for anyone who has the balls to stand up for something they believe in, especially to the point where they’d be willing to die for it. The world sucks, it especially sucks for the poor, and it probably always will, with that in mind I think the lads from Les Miserables were very brave for trying to change the world around them even though they must have known they were doomed all along.
I think everyone likes to believe they can change the world when they’re young, few people though take the initiative to actually do something about it, Yeah the boys in Les Miserable failed in their mission and they paid with their lives, but at least they tried.
I occasionally wonder if it hadn’t been for Victor Hugo and Les Miserables if anyone would actually remember the rebellion that took place? In terms of revolutions that happened in France during that time period it does seem like it’s been overlooked quite a bit. Perhaps it made more of an impact in its actual country but I don’t know any French people to ask.

In my opinion the rebellion in Les Miserables has become one of those fictionalised tragedies like Titanic, Everyone remembers the film, or in this case the musical, that most people forget that it actually happened and that just makes it all the more sad because no one remembers the real people anymore, they just remember the Hollywood version. It kinda sucks that people died for something that a majority of people don’t even know was a real event! Hell I didn’t even know it even happened until I read the book, so I’m including myself in this rant as well.

5: The song “One Day More”
I’m not an expert in musical theatre, I don’t care that “one day more” is one of the most famous Quodlibets in a musical; (Or whatever the fuck the term is, I told you I’m not an expert) I just think it’s a fucking great song! Ever since I heard it for the first time I haven’t been able to stop singing it wherever I am. In fact I think a lot of my friends have started to get pissed off with me singing it loudly at them. Yeah that’s what I do, I don’t sing to people, I sing AT them, loudly and badly! Hey, we all need a way to unwind.

“One day more” is definitely one of my favourite songs from a musical, it’s up there amongst my other favourites like “I feel pretty” from West Side Story, “I’d do anything” from Oliver, “Uncle Fucka” from South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut (Yes that IS a musical) and basically every song from Mamma Mia.

4: Pages 385-398 in the novel

For those of you who haven’t read this full blog basically those pages are a brief look at the life of Valjean and Cosette after he’s rescued her from the Thenardiers, but before they start hiding out in the convent (Oh God the convent NO!!!!…….sorry I just can’t even think about that part of the book without  painful flashbacks!) Anyway, I don’t know why but this particular part of the book makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I just find it so sweet how Valjean becomes such a loving father to little Cosette almost instantly, one of my particular favourite moments was when Valjean was teaching Cosette to read, and how he thought about when he learnt to read in prison with the intent on using it for crime but now he’s using it to teach a child, It just melts my icy heart! Sure I did find the relationship between Valjean and Cosette to be bordering on incestuous at some points, but I think that says more about my perverted mind than that of Victor Hugos.
I think a lot of my friends would agree that I’m a foul mouthed cynical bitch most of the time, and they’d be right to say that. But I am a human being as well, and I do think and feel things and I really have a soft spot for this part of the book. Perhaps it’s something to do with my own feelings of neglect that I experienced from my own father, but the daddy/daughter relationship between Valjean and Cosette in Les Mis really seemed to touch me, and that’s never happened to me before from a book.

3: Anne Hathaway in the 2013 movie

I was really excited when I heard Anne Hathaway was going to be playing Fantine in the 2013 movie. Anne Hathaway is actually one of my favourite actors, seriously I love all of her movies!.......well except for “The Devil Wears Prada”….and “Bride Wars”….and “One Day”…..and “The Dark Knight Rises”…..OK SOME! I love some of her movies!!! What, I admit she’s not perfect, every actor has to have a few crappy movies in their past so back off……oops sorry I’m getting off topic.

My point is, having one of my favourite actors in my favourite musical was awesome and even though I really don’t care about the academy awards I was quite happy to hear that Anne got the Oscar for Les Mis. The role of Fantine really is a thankless and unglamourous role when you think about it, you don’t get to be the main protagonist like Valjean, you don’t get the happy ending of Cosette and Marius, you don’t get the heroic death like Eponine or the revolutionaries, you don’t even get to be the comic relief like the Thenardiers, No! Fantine basically gets treated like crap from the second she shows up, and it just goes downhill from there. She ends up losing her hair and teeth and has to look fairly ugly for the rest of her screen time (Well as ugly as Hollywood will allow anyway) then she gets one good song and then she dies a horrible tragic lonely death fairly quickly.
Sure it might be one of the more famous roles from the show, but I don’t imagine it was exactly fun playing her. Anne Hathaway did a damn good job as Fantine in the movie, she does a damn good job in most of the movies she’s in and I’m glad she’s got some recognition for it.

2: Cosette
Isn’t that interesting, Cosette made the number two spot on both my lists…..Weird!

So yeah… know what, It’s my blog and it’s my list so I’ll choose Cosette if I want to! I make no apologies about this one; the heart wants what it wants. I love Cosette and I’m not afraid to say it!! Sure she’s an idiot, sure she has no idea what’s going on around her at any time in the novel or musical, sure she falls in love with the first boy who ever pays her attention, sure she basically ignores her father after she’s married and almost lets him die alone, sure she basically represses everything about her childhood to a ludicrous level, sure she exists as a character solely to be protected and fawned over, SURE SHE HAS ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONALITY TO HER WHATSOEVER!……but despite all of that I just can’t hate her for any of it. I love Cosette! Don’t ask me to explain why I love her though, I have no idea. She’s exactly the type of character I would usually hate in a work of fiction but there’s just something about that girl I love. Perhaps I am a sucker for a pretty blonde after all.

And the number one thing I love the most about Les Miserables is…………………...........................................

1: Jean Valjean

This one might actually be a surprise to anyone who knows me, but yes he is the number one thing I love the most about Les Miserables.

Why? Well there are many reasons; but i guess the main reason is the fact that I can relate to him a little. I may be making a stretch here and I don’t mean to compare myself to a great literary character but he’s a guy who has committed a crime in his past, was punished for it and tried to change his life when his punishment was done. I can relate to that because I’ve also done some thievery in my past and I was caught and punished as well (although not to the extent that he was but lets not get pedantic) But sometimes people just don’t care if you want to change, people will only ever see you as a thief and I know that first hand and I think in that respect me and Valjean are quite similar. Sure I haven’t found an orphan child to adopt yet but I’m still young, so it could happen.

I wish I had the faith that Jean Valjean has, I wish that someone could inspire me the way the bishop did for him in Les Miserables, I wish that someone could look at me and tell me that just because I’ve done bad things in my life it doesn’t make me a bad person, and if I just put my faith in something higher my life might actually mean something in the end.

Jean Valjean is quite an inspiring man actually; perhaps I should just put all my faith in him. He’s a guy who’s spent his entire life looking after other people whilst sacrificing his own safety and freedom……OH MY GOD! I’ve just realised Jean Valjean is basically Jesus Christ isn’t he? Anyway it’s true, first he looks after his sister and her kids and loses his freedom when he steals for them, then he looks after the people in his town when he’s the mayor even though he never wanted the job because he should have been lying low after breaking his parole, and then he spends the rest of his life looking after Cosette even though he knew Javert was going to be hunting for him but he had to do it because of the promise he made to Fantine. See what I mean about sacrificing his own safety and freedom? Everything he ever did was for the sake of other people, even rescuing Marius from the barricades and letting Javert live were two incredibly dangerous actions that could have gotten him killed but he did them because they benefited other people before they benefited him. There’s definitely some Jesus allegory going on there.

It’s not surprising that he looked so tired and sick by the end of the 2013 movie, I’d look like shit too if I’d been through half the stuff he’d been through. I feel so bad for the guy by the end of it all, I saw that movie 20 times in the cinema and I don’t think it’s surprising at all that the scene where he dies is the only point in the whole film where I ended up crying on nearly every viewing. Yes it might also have something to do with the fact that my own father died the very day that movie came out here in England and I might have been projecting some of those feelings onto it, but to be honest it’s a sad fucking scene so gimme a break!

Jean Valjean is one of the greatest literary characters I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, there’s a part of me that wishes he was a real person because he’s everything a hero should be and he’s everything a father should be and even more than that he’s everything a man should be. Or at least that’s how I imagine all those things should be in my head.

I know he’s a fictional character but I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a little bit in love with Jean Valjean, so maybe it’s not that surprising after all that he’s made number one on my list.


  1. Nice post. I personally like the size of the book and the insanity of some of the tangents. And the professor who sells all his books to buy food and just as he's sold his last one he joins the revolution.

    For what it's worth, I don't think you're a bad person. That's another message of the book - people always have the choice to change and everyone's life is important.

    1. Thanks for reading! Yeah i just didn't really feel anything about that professor guy, he was kind of unnecessary in the end, there were already loads of people to feel sorry for in the book i think he was just one too many to care about.