Les Misérables (1935) Poster


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  • Ex-convict Jean Valjean (Fredric March), released from prison after 10 years serving in the galleys for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's three starving children, is given 109 francs, a yellow passport, and sent out into a society that will have no part of him. While searching for food and a place to sleep, he chances upon a kindly bishop who inspires him to 'give...not take.' Valjean decides to break his parole and create a new life, raising himself from unwanted convict to mayor of Montreuil, distinguished by his charitable works, e.g., his attempts to re-unite the dying Fantine Lesrolles (Florence Eldridge) with her young daughter Cosette (Marilyn Knowlden). Unfortunately, police inspector Emil Javert (Charles Laughton) learns of his whereabouts and vows to relentlessly track him down for his parole violation and return him to the galleys for the rest of his life. Edit

  • Les Misérables (1862) is a novel by French writer Victor Hugo and is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, such that it has inspired a long-running stage musical and at least a dozen films. The screenplay for this movie was written by British screenwriter W.P. Lipscomb. Edit

  • The film opens in 1800 as Valjean is being sentenced to the galleys. It spans the time period from 1800 to 1832. Edit

  • His suspicion starts when Madeleine refuses to allow Javert to arrest Fantine, Javert comments that M. Madelieine has no respect for the law and requests his officers to do a background check on him. He begins to suspect that Madeleine is Jean Valjean after he witnesses him lifting an overturned carriage with his back, something he'd seen Jean do years before when he was a convict in the galley. Edit

  • No cause is given, not even in the novel. Based on the symptoms and time period, it might be presumed to have been tuberculosis. Another possibility is pneumonia. Edit

  • The movie depicts what has been called the June Rebellion aka the 'Uprising of 1832,' when a large group of Parisian Republicans consisting mostly of working class and students staged an insurgency against the French monarchy, which was then headed by Louis Philippe I. Protesting against poor working conditions and bad economic conditions, they barricaded the streets and held out for two days (June 5-6) until the national guard and thousands of soldiers broke through the barricades, killed hundreds of the insurgents, and effectively ended the uprising. Edit

  • Jean risks his life to carry Marius (John Beal) through the Paris sewers back to Cosette. Unfortunately, Javert follows him and vows to take Jean into custody but does agree to allow him a few moments to say goodbye to Cosette. In his parting, Jean tells Cosette to keep always the silver candlesticks he got from the bishop. However, when Jean goes out to submit to Javert. he finds Javert missing and the handcuffs lying on the steps. Jean hears shouting in the street and runs out to find that Javert has drowned himself in the Seine. Edit

  • No specific reason is given. Most viewers conclude that Javert, driven by the belief that the law was always correct, could not reconcile this belief with the compassion he felt for Jean's love and sacrifice for Cosette and Marius and that, believing he had committed the ultimate betrayal to his code of ethics, had no choice but to kill himself. Edit



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