Les Misérables is a must-see experience that tells the story of Jean Valjean, a long-term prisoner released on parole, a poor unfortunate girl/woman called Fantine and her daughter Cosette, and those around them as their lives progress.
The story begins in 1815 at a time when France, once again, (after the revolution) and after the defeat of Napolean has returned to a monarchy with the House of Bourbon and another Louis. The story soon moves on, after Jean Valjean's release from prison, to 1823, and then moves once more to climax & end with the June Rebellion (factual) of 1832.
The novel as you probably may know was written by Victor Hugo & published in 1862, and was destined to become a classic.
The musical, now successfully made in film, is the longest running musical the world has seen, having been enyoyed by more than 60 million people world-wide
Jean Valjean (Prisoner 24601) ~ Hugh Jackman ~ comes out of prison after 19 years, a hardened man. He had stolen some bread to feed his sister's child who was dying of starvation.
Before long, after his release on parole, he steals the church silver from a Bishop who took him in and gave him shelter, and he is quickly caught by the police. The Bishop covers for Valjean and tells the police that he gave him the silver. When the police are gone the Bishop tells Valjean he can keep the silver on condition that he makes something of himself and turns his life around. This he does.
Eight years on (1823) he is the Mayor of a small town and a factory owner. He is returning to be the man he once was, a better man!
In France at that time, dangerous criminals were on parole for life, and because he didn't keep up with reporting to the authorities each month to a place where they dictate (preferring to stay in one place and make a new life), he was again technically a wanted criminal.
Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) was his jailer and has a life-long obsession with pursuing him and his capture. Although, at first, he does not recognise the Mayor when he comes to the town to take up a new post.
In Valjean's factory (a workhouse) is Fantine (Anne Hathaway) a girl who has previously had a child (Cosette) but, because she was deserted by the father, the child is in the care of Inn-keepers Madame & Monsieur Thénardier (Helena Bonham-Carter & Sacha Baron Cohen). Fantine cannot afford to keep Cosette with her; she needs to work.
The Thénardiers are scammers and constantly taking and stealing from all who they can. The Thénardiers are always asking for more money from Fantine claiming the young Cosette (Isabelle Allen) is ill or that she needs a doctor, or special medications etc etc.
Fantine works her fingers to the bone, and when she is fired and her employment terminated from the factory by Valjean’s foreman, she turns to prostitution, selling her hair and her teeth as well as her body. She contracts consumption and on her death bed, Valjean promises to take Cosette into his protection and raise her as his own daughter. This he does. Cosette is maybe 7 or 8 when he takes her away from the Thénardiers (and he is scammed by them of course for every penny/franc/ they can get).
We then move on to 1832, Éponine (Samantha Barks) and Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) are about 17 years old now. Éponine meets Marius (Edie Redmayne), the young rich-kid revolutionary from the privileged background. Marius does not see she is madly in love with him and sees her just as a good friend. Marius however has his eyes and his heart with Cosette and falls madly in love with her, as she does with him!
All is set for the June Rebellion of 1832, which is sparked (started) by the death of General Lamarque who was a true Republican sympathiser in French history.
If you have not seen this amazing film of the musical yet (and you are not a philistine), then you really must see it now that you have had the bones of it!
and a live performance from the cast last week in front of their peers at the Oscars Ceremony ~ the Academy Awards: