Les Miserables, 1934

Ex-convict Jean Valjean tries to start his life over, but is constantly pursued by police inspector Javert. While Valjean continues trying to make life better for other people, Javert obsesses over getting his hands on the elusive ex-con.

There were many versions made of this story, from black and white film to musical. I noticed that the length of the films made from 1925 to 1995 varied from six hours to almost 3 hours. The 1934 version was just over 4 ½ hours long. And yes, I watched all four and one half hours of it.

The transformation of Valjean from bitter ex-convict to loving father was developed in many emotional steps. The way others responded to him showed how his character changed as well. The moments of decision for Valjean were times of reflection. He could decide who he wanted to be.

I applied what I saw on the screen to society today. There are those in today’s world who want to change who they are, but their past follows them like Javert. My suggestion is for those people to watch Valjean make the decision to help people despite being hounded by Javert. Valjean chose to give his best to those who would receive his help. We can do that too.

Editing would have made this a better film. Even though I imagine no one wants to touch this 281-minute treasure, I could see this reedited with a large Deleted Scenes section. Or we could watch one of the shorter versions.

I must admit I enjoy listening to the French language in this black and white film. The language is beautiful, but the English subtitles are a must since I don’t speak French.