Cinerama: Les Miserables

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Les Miserables

By Mike Derderian

Summer is gone and all that is left is the somber color of autumn, which is the clarion that announces the coming of the icy queen. Her arrival turns all the brightness of the lovely summer maiden’s gown into a dark and gloomy one tailored by her own cold wisdom. Life at that moment becomes a tableau of intense colors and animate impressions, we humans proud or meek form those brush strokes on life’s canvas.

It was a chilly and an abnormal day. I had to take a taxi for I was late. After a short ride in the streets of Amman the taxi came to a halt at a traffic light. For a moment I was lost within the folds of my own thoughts for I was contemplating life again with big questions like, “why, why?” until my thoughts were cut brief.

Look at that poor man with one leg said the annoying driver to me. In reaction to his meddling words and with a Kurtz-like persona; I looked at him and said in complete apathy, “that man was a butcher working at a supermarket close to my house. He was a good one too until an illness struck his leg, an illness that had a high price for after losing his leg he lost his job.”

After reaching my destination, I decided to continue my journey afoot. During this walk an old woman dressed in black with henna tattooed on her chain approached me. She was carrying a large satchel filled with bad vegetables, as she came closer to me asking for money, something inside of me at that moment moved and I couldn’t ignore her faint old voice that kept on saying “alms to the poor, may God keep you in good health, young man.”

The bottom line is that some of us are born lucky enough with carefree lives and with no suffering at all, while others aren’t lucky as much, and those are “Les Miserables de Jourdain.”

Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” was written circa 19th century France, it was a long novel about suffering, charity and most of all love for what is life without love especially man’s so called love to his fellow man.

A novel that proved itself as being universal for life is filled with miserable people who cannot find a loaf of bread to eat, people who cannot afford fuel to light up the their gasoline heaters and people who cannot afford a decent place that can shield them from the cold bites of life’s ruthless grinding teeth.

Since it’s publication, a lot of films were based on this immortal novel, one of which is the 1998 version directed by Billie August that starred Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman, Clair Danes, Hans Matheson and Geoffrey Rush as inspector Javert.

The protagonist Jean Valjean (Neeson) is a convict whose only crime was stealing a loaf of bread from a bakery, a crime that he paid for 19 years of imprisonment. What logic deems it right for a man to be imprisoned for being hungry?

It is a touching story of a man who was given the chance of redemption and a chance to become a respectable law abiding citizen, a charitable mayor of a small French village called Vigo, however, his past haunts him in the form of the relentless ruthless Inspector Javert who wants to catch Valjean more than anything else.

How can a convict become a kind-hearted man? Well the secret lies in the priest’s words at the beginning of the film, “You’ve promised to become a new man, Jean Valjean, you no longer belong to evil for with the silver I bought your soul, I ransomed you from evil and now I give you back to God.” Got you intrigued yeah?

The film offers us humanitarian and altruistic emotional scenes that would make the roughest scoundrel living among us cry like in the scene where Valjean is talking to the sick Fantine (Thurman) about her daughter Cosette.

“I’m a whore, Cosette doesn’t have a father,”to which Valjean says, “God is her father and you’re his creation in his eyes you’ve never been anything but an innocent and beautiful women.”

Words that I would like to echo and tell you my dear reader that were are God’s greatest creation no matter what and anything else only stands on the margin of our existence, however, alas through our materialistic pursuits man is no longer a significant element in this world.

One of the bright elements in this tragic story is embodied in Cosette’s character played by Claire Danes who with her angelic soft features and passionate performance added a soft interlude of love and warmth to the film especially the love that she now shares with Marius (Matheson).

Will Javert catch Valjean? Will Cosette and Marius live happily ever after? As always, I won’t tell you so go and rent the film.

In the end Jean Valjean is Hugo’s mouthpiece that offered us a passionate and a philanthropist approach to this callous life, for it was Hugo who once said, “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” So love your fellow man if you can.

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