Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables: From the Book to the Screen

From the moment I saw the preview at the theater, I have been excited about the new movie Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe. This book-turned-musical has been adapted for the screen more than 60 times, but this adaptation proves to be different because the actors actually sing live while filming the scene instead of recording first and lip-syncing later.  In this way, the actors can allow whatever they are feeling at the moment to come through in the music.  Some critics are already talking an Oscar nomination for Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine.

Though the music is powerful, and the acting in this movie is going to be stellar, we must not forget that Les Mis began as a French historical novel, by Victor Hugo, and this 1,400-page novel has a bit more information than its musical counterpart.  So here are a few things you may not know about Les Mis if you have not read the book:

  • ·        Did you know that Valjean saves Cosette from the Thenardiers on Christmas Eve?  (I wonder if that had anything to do with Les Mis, the movie’s release date.)
  • ·        Did you know that Eponine and Gavroche are brother and sister?  Gavroche is an unloved middle child who lives on his own. When Eponine is dying she asks Marius not to tell her brother Gavroche because he will scold.
  • ·        Did you know that Javert was born in prison to a convict father and a gypsy mother?  He renounces them and starts working as a guard in the prison.
  • ·        Did you know that Cosette’s father is named Félix Tholomyès, and that her mother Fantine is illiterate?  She has to get others to write her letters to the Thénardiers.
  • ·        Did you know that Marius’ father was ennobled by Napoleon Bonaparte, causing Marius’ loyalist grandfather to disinherit him, and is the colonel whose life is saved (accidentally) by M. Thénardier?

The movie is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day, and I’ve already made my plans to see it. I’ve also got my copy of the book on my bedside table to brush up on the story before seeing the movie. 

So, are you excited about seeing Les Mis? Hopefully these five previews can tide you over till next week:  

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Tell us your favorite Les Mis story in the comments!

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

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