LES MISERABLES (1934)

PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

BLU-RAY REVIEW: LES MISERABLES (1934) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: RAYMOND BERNARD / SCREENPLAY: RAYMOND BERNARD, ANDRE LANG / STARRING: HARRY BAUR, CHARLES VANEL, FLORELLE, PAUL AZAIS, JOSSELINE GAEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Newly restored in 4K at its original length by Pathé, the 1934 version of Victor Hugo’s immortal novel, Les Misérables, was the most thorough of all film adaptations and Raymond Bernard is one of the more overlooked filmmakers of the early French cinema. Originally released as three separate feature-length chapters during its release, Bernard's film recounts the stories of the ex-convict Jean Valjean (Baur), hounded by the overbearing Inspector Javert (Vanel), the virtuous Fantine (Florelle), who sells herself into prostitution for the welfare of her young daughter Cosette (Gael), and of intersections of these threads, which all culminates with the June 1832 French Rebellion.

There have been so many different versions of Les Misérables throughout the years, and the high watermark, regardless of what anyone else thinks, is the 2012 musical version (directed by Tom Hooper) as it was a huge, ambitious, sweeping epic that produced a tidal wave of tears (even though Russell Crowe sounded like a close relative of Pierce Brosnan). But what the musical version did was that it took Hugo’s novel and condensed it for the screen in a strong and coherent form.

In the case of this version, even though it is beautifully handled and well-performed, having the film at over four hours to try and translate nearly every page of the book onto the screen is somewhat problematic. One of the things about great adaptations of books is the way in which filmmakers take a great text and wrestle it down to the form of one movie. In the case of this, like Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, having it at great length only makes it somewhat baggy as a result.

Despite the bagginess, it still deals with deep thematic themes and ideas, like redemption, unrequited romance, and the lengths of motherhood. Fantine is still the strongest character as she’s clearly an archetype for self-abnegation and devoted motherhood, and her tragic end still produces eye-watering results. Jean Valjean here is represented as an enormous bear-like mountain of a man, but like in the Beauty and the Beast tale, beneath that gruff exterior is a gentle-natured human being, and Harry Baur brilliantly embodies that.

Ultimately, Raymond Bernard’s Les Misérables is a solidly mounted, yet baggy, affair that is brilliantly performed and stylishly shot, but yet it loses the tight and constrained narrative of its musical counterpart.

Special Features: 40-page booklet /  Further extras to be confirmed
 

SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR ON TWITTER @STARBURST_MAG

Find your local STARBURST stockist HERE, or buy direct from us HERE. For our digital edition (available to read on your iOS, Android, Amazon, Windows 8, Samsung and/or Huawei device - all for just £1.99), visit MAGZTER DIGITAL NEWSSTAND.

CLICK TO BUY!

MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB:



Suggested Articles:
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's is set in the not too distant future of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise up to that point. Kaib
For those of a certain age and viewing habits, the closing logo for any Stephen J. Cannell-created s
With the fourth season of The CW’s Arrow, Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen faces new, powerful threa
Back in 2011 Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class stunned this reviewer by delivering a jolt of gid
scroll back to top

Comments  

 
0 #1 Neil H Smith 2014-12-12 13:29
The best version is....bar none...the amazing 1935 US one. Richard Boleslawski directs and Laughton March excel...... Sublime photography, performances and directing..sure it makes many changes to the book but all for the benefit of the screen....great great film. The one reviewed here far too long...the musical too glossy...the 1935 one perfect....
Quote
 

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

YU-GI-OH! 5D'S 20 September 2016

BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP – THE COMPLETE SERIES 20 September 2016

ARROW - SEASON 4 20 September 2016

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS 19 September 2016

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE 19 September 2016

WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE 19 September 2016

THE HILLS HAVE EYES 19 September 2016

EARLY MURNAU – FIVE FILMS (MASTERS OF CINEMA) 19 September 2016

GREEN ROOM 19 September 2016

LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU 19 September 2016

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner

      
      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
...