The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving ... See full summary »
The lives of numerous people over the course of 20 years in 19th century France, weaved together by the story of an ex-convict named Jean Valjean on the run from an obsessive police inspector, who pursues him for only a minor offense.
Television adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel, which follows Jean Valjean as he evades capture by the unyielding Inspector Javert. Set against a backdrop of post-Napoleonic France as unrest begins to grip the city of Paris once more.
In late eighteenth century France, in the middle of the French Revolution, the unemployed woodman Jean Valjean (Richard Jordan) is arrested for stealing bread to feed his family and sentenced to five years in prison in Toulon. He tries to escape from prison due to the mistreatment from cruel Javert (Anthony Perkins), increasing his sentence. Nineteen years later, he is released, but forced to carry identification that labels him a thief, making him unwelcome at inns and many other places, but is helped by the kind Bishop Myriel (Claude Dauphin) who feeds and shelters him. However, he steals his silverware at dawn, but he is arrested by two Policemen and brought back to the Bishop. The Bishop tells them that the silver objects were a gift, and gives two additional candlesticks to Valjean. When the Policemen leave the place, the Bishop tells Valjean that he has bought his soul, and now he should live an honest life. Jean Valjean becomes a well-succeeded businessman with the alias ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the book, Monsieur Thenardier identifies himself as "Napoleon's Sergeant". Sir Ian Holm played Napoleon in several movies. See more »
At one point, Javert and his officers wade through the sewers up to their waists in raw sewage. when they emerge, their light-coloured trousers have barely a stain on them, and are essentially clean. See more »
[after Valjean's second attempt to escape Toulon]
It is the decision of the Military Tribunal that ten years be added to your sentence. I am requested by law to inquire if you have anything to say, um, for yourself.
[clearing his throat]
Some day, I'll kill you.
[the guards seize him]
Six months in the hole for disrespect.
[Valjean spits at him in disgust]
Take him away.
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This is a great story and for me this is the best screen adaptation of it. Although Geoffrey Rush puts in a decent performance in the newer film release (1998), Anthony Perkins' Javert simply cannot be bettered with his steely, cold personality and determination. Jordon also does well with the Valjean character, emitting a personality of pride and restraint in the face of adversity. The story moves on at a decent pace and provides good characterisation without too much lagging.
Overall this is a fine production and I personally find it vastly superior to the latest film incarnation with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush where I didn't particularly like either of the portrayals of the leading characters, even though they were well-acted. This version may have the obligatory TV Movie feel to it, but it still manages to rise above its Big-screen counterpart.
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