Les Miserables: A Merciful Film Review
Les Miserables portrays the merciless nature of man in the early 19th century. Yet, the musical film is entirely about teaching man the benefits of granting mercy to his fellow man. As Marvin Gaye once sang, "Oh, mercy mercy me - Oh, things ain't what they used to be."
The first act of mercy in the film comes from the priest who invites Jean Valjean, a Frenchman released from Toulon prison after 19 years of hard labor. Although inconceivable today in America, his initial crime was stealing a loaf of bread for a relative's child. Be glad things ain't what they use to be.
After Valjean is fed and housed for free by the priest, he steals most of the silver in the church on his way out of town. He gets caught and faces imminent incarceration.
Yet through the faithful effort of the priest to be merciful to the thief, the priest testifies to authorities that Valjean was given the silver. The priest tells him to take the silver and become a good man.
Years later, when Valjean becomes that good man, he fails in his effort to be merciful to an employee who begs for forgiveness. As a result of Valjean's failure, the woman becomes a whore and eventually dies, leaving her only child motherless.
However, Valjean becomes the girl's father and improves her lot in life. But the cost to Valjean is great. He is discovered by his pursuer and former prison guard, Inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe.
As Javert pursues his vision of justice and the law, Valjean learns to offer mercy to others. This mercy extends so far as to Javert's own life as Valjean extends mercy to even his enemy, Javert.Continued on the next page