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Laramie Movie Scope:
Les MisÚrables (1995)

A French masterpiece based on a classic story

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 8, 1996 -- One the best films of last year is finally out on video and now Laramie audiences who weren't fortunate enough to see it somewhere else can enjoy it in Laramie at last.

"Les Miserables" is a stunning achievement. It is a highly complex, multi-tiered film held together by Victor Hugo's wonderful, oft-filmed story and Jean-Paul Belmondo's great performance as the central character, Henri Fortin. This version, however, is very different from the original story.

Fortin, whose father died in prison under circumstances similar to Jean Valjean, the main character of Les Miserables, grows up to be a prize fighter, and much later in life, a furniture mover. Illiterate, he wonders why others often compare him to Valjean.

While helping a Jewish family move out of Paris during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, Fortin asks the husband, Andre Ziman, and wife, Elise Ziman (Michael Boujenah and Alessandra Martines) to read him the Victor Hugo classic so he can understand the story.

Fortin ends up helping the couple, and their daughter, Salome (Salome Lelouch). All of them are thrown into tragic circumstances. Fortin joins the French underground, Salome is hidden in a Catholic girl's school, Elise is captured by the Germans and Andre is captured by a greedy farm couple who plot to kill him after taking his money.

Fortin's life is transformed by the Victor Hugo story. He becomes as noble as Valjean, the character he has been compared to. Although he is surrounded by Nazis and their sympathizers, the story, and the nobility of the human spirit pull him through.

As if this wasn't enough, there are flashbacks to the Victor Hugo story and flashbacks to the life of Fortin's father and mother. The story plumbs the depths of human depravity and the heights of human spirit. It attempts much and accomplishes much. It rates an A. (The film is French, with English subtitles. It is almost three hours long.)

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1996 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)