Treat Your Soul to Les Miserables

Christmas time always takes on a different shape each year. This year we drove up to see my family in southern Virginia and then drove towards the Shenandoah (but not quite all the way there) to see her family as well. So as you can imagine, a lot of our Christmas time was spent on the road. When we finally got back into town last night, we remembered that we really wanted to watch Les Miserables, the film inspired by the musical, which had been released on Christmas Day. So, even though exhausted and knowing that Les Mis would be an emotional overload, we ate dinner and then left for the movie theatre for the 10:10 PM showing. Oh man, I knew it was going to be a long night.

            I’ve never been a big fan of movie review sites because I feel that in many ways, movie critics are disconnected from the rest of us. Somehow, the movies that people love to watch time and time again are never the best rated. Let’s be honest, how many more times can you watch Inception or Lincoln? Exactly.

            Having said that, even though Les Miserables did not receive the greatest of ratings by the so-called experts, it is a film truly worth watching on the big screen. As we walked out of the theatre, my wife asked me what I thought of the film and I simply couldn’t formulate the phrases and expressions that represented what I felt in my heart. I had just witnessed such an incredible and majestic experience that even as I walked towards our car in the parking lot, my mind and soul were still trapped in the recreation of Victor Hugo’s 19th century France.

            I don’t know what the average American knows of the story in Les Miserables or of the background to the original novel. It is a novel written in 1862 by Victor Hugo that has been made into a film many different times throughout the 20th century. It inspired a famous musical in the 1980s (I believe), with and the musical has now been released as a film, directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, John Adams) and starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anna Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. If you haven’t read the novel, you need to read the novel. If you haven’t watched the Broadway musical, you need to watch the Broadway musical. If you haven’t decided that you need to watch Les Miserables on the big screen, then I urge you to reconsider.

            Without giving the plot away to those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Les Mis, even though working with a great range of topics and concepts, deals greatly with the concepts of grace, righteousness, justice, good, redemption, forgiveness, and, yes, God.  Whether through Victor Hugo’s original words or its many different incarnations, Les Miserables never fails to make us reflect on our understanding of grace, of forgiveness, of love, of justice, of good, and of the heart of God. If nothing more, it is introspection into the human heart and how society can break a man only to be restored by the Godly actions of the humble.

            That’s it. I am done. Anymore and I would give too much away, for the Les Miserables is an experience that needs to be lived by each individual, as I hope you will consider doing. As we head from Christmas into the New Year, I pray peace, grace, and love over you are your loved ones.

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