To love another person is to see the face of God."
- Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
- Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
It is the last line of the famous musical "Les Miserables." It is one of the beautiful lines sung by Jean Valjean. But what does it mean? How is God's face seen in the love of another person? It simply means that one spoken truth; you will see God through another's love. In the characters perspective, I think this is their reality. Les Miserables is a musical movie that shows social injustice or inequality in nineteenth century France. It shows the different location of France from Digne to Paris, which is the ceiling of the human race. This review will focus on the nature of law and grace, history of France from politics, justice, and religion to love.
The novel Les Miserables begins with Jean Valjean, who has stolen a loaf of bread for his sister's children. Because of that, he spent nineteen years being the prisoner 24601. After spending many years in prison, the police inspector, Javert, gave him yellow ticket which includes his record of criminal punishment. At the town of Digne, only a bishop gave him food and shelter. He helps him to create a new life even though he stole some silver from him. He became a successful factory owner and adopts the name Monsieur Madeleine. Fantine was left with her child, Cosette. Her little Cosette was left with the Thénardiers while she was working but they treated Cosette cruelly. Fantine loses her job at Valjean's factory and is forced to turn into prostitute due to poverty.
After that, Valjean brought Fantine to a hospital; she is deathly ill. Valjean then promises Fantine that he will take care of Cosette. Fantine dies and Valjean rescues Cosette from the wicked Thénardiers. They started a new life in Paris and Cosette grew into a fine, young woman. Marius is a wealthy young man who falls in love with a beautiful young woman that he saw one time. Marius was unable to find this young woman and falls into despair. Eponine however, has fallen in love with him but Marius has his eyes only for Cosette. Marius and Cosette then establish a relationship. Their romance was cut short when Valjean decided that he and Cosette must leave France because of the social changes. In despair, Marius and his friends joins an uprising against the government were they are doing battle against the army. Eponine died protecting Marius on the barricade. Valjean discovered Marius' love for Cosette. H
e then joins the group at the barricade. He volunteered to kill Javert, but then lets him go instead. He helped the injured Marius and disappeared down the sewers. Javert is waiting for Valjean but rather than arresting him, he shows Valjean mercy and allows him to bring the wounded Marius to safety. Then Javert commits suicide because of his deeds. Marius recovered and married Cosette. Valjean confessed his past to Marius. Marius and Cosette grew closer as Valjean and Cosette grew farther apart. Valjean's life loses its meaning without Cosette. And his health slowly fades. However, Valjean's heroism is made clear to Marius when Thénardier revealed to Marius that it was Valjean who saved him. Marius and Cosette arrived in time to comfort Valjean on his deathbed and the old man dies in peace, with the satisfaction of a life well and righteously lived.
The movie showed different social norms. I used Marxist Criticism in this film review. Social and economic justice is evident in the story in the form of the treatment of the characters based on their class. It is easily evident in the first part of the story. Men and women had to go to a struggle just for them to be free. It is also evident in the part of Fantine, where she just defended herself but she got arrested. Hugo's story also demonstrated prostitution, child abuse, economic injustice and social inequality like corruption and poverty.
Hugo's movie, Les Miserables, delivers a stunning historical story in a musical form. The story doesn't just narrating what happened in the past; it shows why it happened and what we can do to make them happen differently in the future. We can easily sum up the whole story from justice to mercy. We can all be like Jan Valjean, the progress is inside us. Forgiveness can change a life; from nothingness to God.