Les Miserables - Movie Synopsis & Plot
Les Miserables is an epic tale of love, honor and obsession played out against the dramatic backdrop of early 19'h century France. It tells the story of Jean Valjean, whose theft of a loaf of bread condemns him to an unjust prison sentence and a life on the run. An act of forgiveness, however, changes the course of his life forever. He becomes the respected mayor of the poor town of Vigau and transforms it into a thriving community. He also falls in love with one of Vigau's most pitiful, poverty stricken residents, the beautiful Fantine, and devotes himself to her care. Fantine's untimely death signals a new chapter in Valjean's life, during which he raises her daughter Cosette, whom he desperately attempts to shield from the dangers of the world. As she matures, she falls passionately in love with Marius, a charismatic young Parisian revolutionary.
All the while, Valjean is hunted by Javert, a policeman whose lifelong search for Valjean has turned into an obsession.
France, 1812 - After enduring nearly 20 years of hard labor for a petty theft, Jean Valjean is released from prison on parole. Brutalized by the harsh treatment he has received, he is a man with virtually no sense of morality. He steals, lies, and cheats, surviving on his wits and sheer brute strength and expecting only cruelty from others.
Exhausted after days of walking from the Toulon prison to Dijon, where he is to report for parole, Valjean Stops in Digne seeking food and shelter. He is astonished when the Bishop there treats him with respect and invites him to be a guest in his home. Although grateful for the gesture, Valjean cannot betray what years in shackles and chains have taught him. Incapable of trusting the Bishop, Valjean steals his silverware, bludgeons him and runs off into the night. When he is caught, he is amazed to hear the Bishop tell the police that the silverware was a gift and that no crime has been committed. The Bishop gives Valjean two silver candlesticks, telling him that he is buying his soul and that he must no longer be evil. Valjean proceeds on his journey, reeling from this act of forgiveness and wrestling with God and with his own conscience.
By 1822, Valjean has reinvented himself as the quiet, humble mayor of the small town of Vigau, a thriving democratic community where he also runs a factory. Into this peaceful town comes the stiff and formal Inspector Javert, who is joining the Vigau police. Horrified, Valjean recognizes him as a former guard from his days in the galley. Over time, Javert becomes suspicious of the mayor's identity; it finally falls into place when he sees Valjean using his great physical strength to rescue Lafitte, a factory worker who is trapped under a cart. Incensed at the thought of a criminal
being in a position of authority, Javert goes to Paris demanding that Valjean be denounced. He is told there is not sufficient proof.
In Valjean's factory, a worker named Fantine is dismissed from her job when it is discovered that she has an illegitimate child. She becomes malnourished and falls ill, finally resorting to prostitution to support herself. Javert unjustly arrests her, but her plea to him for leniency is overheard by Valjean, who overrules Javert and demands her release.
Valjean tends to Fantine for several months, and an intense and caring relationship develops between them. On her deathbed, he promises that he will rescue her daughter Cosette and bring her up as his child. He is delayed in this quest when he hears that a man, thought to be Valjean, is being tried for breaking parole and faces a life sentence. The real Valjean declares himself in the courtroom and is later confronted by Javert. But he escapes, setting off across the country to find Cosette with Tavert in hot pursuit.
In Rafael Yglesias' adaptation for Mandalay Entertainment, the film culminates in a final, fated confrontation between Valjean and Javert on the banks of the Seine at the explosive height of the duly Revolution in 1832.