yakalskovich: (We are being dramatic)
Maru ([personal profile] yakalskovich) wrote2014-03-16 10:56 pm

Les Misérables 1995 French version -- running commentary

Now embarking on the adventure of watching the French 1995 version of Les Mis with Belmondo -- from what I have read, set apart by the fact it uses a framing device set in 1942 to stress the point of 'Why is the classical novel Les Misérables still relevant for us today?' Oh what a happy age -- nobody in 2013 or 2014 questions why Les Mis is still relevant. Globalisation, the raging neo-con and neo-liberal ideologies as well as the global economic crash they caused, and in consequence the movements trying to defend us against all this, like Anonymous and Occupy, have brought us right back to the barricade, and to the despair and poverty surrounding it. The book's opening motto is as painfully current as ever. Les Mis needs no justification for us today.

No, the most adventurous part for me is that it's entirely in French -- and there's not even closed captioning to support my far-less-than-perfect auditory comprehension of the language. I know the story, yes, but getting through the framing device and putting together who is who in 1942 and in 1832 (and before) will take some concentration.

  • The movie starts with Valjean (whichever incarnation) shouting that he's sorry.
  • And then, it's a posh ball celebrating New Year 1900 -- oookay?
  • Okay, getting it now. This is quite the remix.
  • In 1900, prisoners were still kept in chain gangs?
  • Yep, this is an amazing movie, these people from way back are right.
  • It's not just about why the book is relevant, it's about adaptations -- a silent movie in the 1900s, a ballet in the 1930s...
  • OMG Jean Marais as the bishop!!!
  • And now the ex-boxer played by Belmondo who is also Valjean in the movie-within-movie buys The Brick at a bouquiniste's booth on the bank of the Seine. Despite the fact that he's illiterate.
  • Because the 20th century Valjean is still as strong as the original, he first becomes a boxing champion and then a mover -- LOL! He's not in hiding because it was his father, no himself, in the bagne.
  • Aujour'd hui, c'est incroyable --- eheheheh! Says the man in 1942 about Jean Valjean being condemned to the bagne for stealing a loaf of bread. Talk about historically tragic irony.
  • Okay, movie-within-movie starts; it's actually the Jewish critic reading it to the ex-boxer/mover about The Brick in the moving van in 1942. Because he's a) driving and b) illiterate.
  • We even get Petit-Gervais -- this is detailed, and oddly true to The Brick, at least the scenes that we do get.
  • Ohai Thénardiers, and the kids in the chain-swing, and Madame sitting down -- just a brief look, but very true to The Brick.
  • We do not get anything in Montreuil, it seems -- and as that one source says, the part of Javert is extremely small. Interesting contrast to the other adaptations where the Thénardiers are mostly left out. Odd, though, to go from Fantine leaving Cosette with the them straight to Valjean fetching her again. He tells them he's Monsieur Madeleine, mayor of Montreuil-sur-mer, though. Which he doesn't do, really, I think? Especially as he does it, brick-canonically, only after escaping the bagne for the second time?
  • They're talking about Javert, but we don't see him.
  • Oh god, this is our 1942 Javert pretending to hitch a lift with 1942 Valjean, and being made to read the book now that the others have left.
  • Okay, now we get him after all -- with the cart and everything. We needed Javert in the story before we could see him in the film-within-film, it seems. And a very Brick Javert he is, too, face squirrels and all.
  • 1942 Javert gets to waterboard Valjean -- ugh!
  • He does get a conscience, though; he tries to stop the other flics from beating up the poor man.
  • Well, that bit was hard to watch. But yes, shooting innocent people is always part of the story.
  • Next bit -- the scene where Javert asks to be dismissed happens as a nightmare while Ziman is injured and feverish. But where did 1942!Valjean get to?
  • There he is, back in Paris! Robbing houses during air-raid alarms with the 1942!Patron-Minette who claim to be résistance, but he's starting to doubt them...
  • Oh myyy -- the Patron-Minette have a rocket launcher and rob a train!
  • You do have to know the original quite well to realise what they're doing there, but the end result is excellent.
  • 1942!Javert has a very smarmy moustache.
  • And now he watches a black-and-white movie version of Les Mis -- telling 1940s!Montparnasse what happens in it, too!
  • Nuns still bizarre -- whoever would teach a dozen kids to play the piano at once, in a long corridor with a dozen pianos?
  • Awww he's such a fan of The Brick -- he likes the innkeepers' son immediately simply because his name is Marius -- because he's a fan as well. His second son is named Gavroche.
  • They are sitting in the basement during an air raid and discussing Valjean and Thénardier!
  • And now, heroic fighting involving Gavroche, and 1940s!Valjean saving Marius -- yep, I like that remix!
  • In this version, Valjean raises Marius from a teenager to a young man, while Salomé!Cosette is in the convent.
  • And now he gets her as well, complete with the very nice doll.
  • OMG the 1940s!Thénardiers  kill each other. What drama.
  • 1940s!Cosette finally teaches Valjean to read -- awwww!
  • And here we are -- Valjean saves Javert! And he gives him a chance to run, which he doesn't take.
  • Now they're peeing into the bushes together -- what???
  • 1940s!Javert just shot himself because -- what?? Everybody else turns around and he quickly kills himself because he can't denounce Jean Valjean who just saved his life.
  • And 1940s!Valjean gets every version of Les Mis he can find, including a comic book. I think I saw that one on tumblr or somewhere -- seems the adaptations they mention are all historically extant.
  • So 1940s!Valjean gets to become mayor at the very end and marries Marius and Cosette in that capacity. Everybody dances -- The End
  • And now, a song by Patricia Kaas.
  • Yep, I like this remix adaptation. I definitely do. It is, however, not telling the story of the brick, it's telling a story about the brick.-
  • This will, however, remain etched on my memory forever as the version where Valjean and Javert pee on some bushes together immediately before Javert blows his brains out. WTF, people -- really, WTF!!

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