Les Misérables

1934

Drama

194
IMDb Rating 8.2 10 1,448

Synopsis


Downloaded times
September 26, 2020

Cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.04 GB
1280*720
French 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
281 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.93 GB
1920×1080
French 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
281 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by tonstant viewer 10 / 10 / 10

The Best, now on DVD

This version of "Les Miserables" is very much the best I've ever seen. I've read the book, and the author Victor Hugo has a certain kind of great, rolling oceanic rhythm, where he starts to set up a scene, appears to wander around adding elements, then slowly brings people and events to a staggering, shuddering climax two- or three hundred pages later. And he manages it several times in the one book. It's a remarkable technique, and no other film version of Les Mis that I've seen manages to capture that feeling of majestic, gigantic tension and release the way this one does. Now, I've only seen the three-hour version of the Depardieu/Dayan version, not the original six-hour, which I've never been able to track down in a version with English subtitles. But I've seen just about every other version, and they all have a disjointed sense of pace and continuity that comes from jamming a huge novel into a Cuisinart and filming the pages that survive. For overall achievement, this one takes the prize. Individual scenes have been done more effectively in other versions, but for capturing the feeling of actually having read the book, this movie is the best. Other versions have gone deeper into the dirt and filth of Old Paris; much of this film was shot on backlot streets where even the dirt is clean, like a Sam Goldwyn picture. Director Raymond Bernard is also a little too fond of tilting the camera for dramatic effect, but you get used to it quickly, and some of the German Expressionist lighting is very effective. This is the only version I've seen that shows the actual revolution Hugo describes with sympathy and patience, and the character of Marius gains terrifically from it. By contrast, the attitude towards revolution is nervous and dismissive in the 1935 March/Boleslawski version, as Hollywood was run by Republicans in those days, and Marius inevitably comes off like a twerp. Not here. Also, the class distinctions among the characters are etched far more clearly than in other adaptations. Today's egalitarian impulses usually tend to bland out such niceties, but our contemporary demands for comfort with these interactions are ignored in this movie from 1933. Harry Baur as Valjean is a dramatic giant, a stocky, massive bunch of nerve endings. He is from the same school as Emil Jannings, but fortunately never plumbs the depths of Jannings' abysmal, moist self-pity. It should also be noted that Baur is better here than in Abel Gance's film about Beethoven. Some of the actors surrounding him in Les Mis are a bit obvious, but OTOH this has the best Gavroche, period. Charles Vanel is the only Inspector Javert you are likely to see who was not affected by Charles Laughton's remarkable portrayal of the character, as that was not to be filmed until two years afterward. Laughton's Javert was so intense that it unbalanced that picture, so that the film wound up being about his agony, not Jean Valjean's, which is wrong. Charles Vanel's Javert appears to be offhand, methodical, restrained, banal; unlike Laughton, he has no speech about why he does what he does, and he gets very few closeups. There is next to no exploration of his interior life, if any, and his death is handled very differently from what we have come to expect. Past the initial surprise, I think that is one point of the film, that Javert is not a flamboyant, obsessive madman. Vanel's Javert is not a twitchy rogue cop like Anthony Perkins or a reptilian boogeyman like John Malkovich; this film is not a Homeric one-on-one duel to the death like "The Fugitive." Here, Javert symbolizes a government of anonymous and casual brutality. He is a willing cog in a machine that metes out rigid punishment and has no mechanism for tempering justice with mercy. This approach will definitely provoke you to thought, which you can't say about most movies. Anyway, forget the star-studded comic book adaptations that are the norm for this title, and curl up with a good book. This one is on two DVDs, takes around five hours to watch, and you'll never regret it.

Reviewed by fernies 10 / 10 / 10

The version that comes closest to capturing the spirit of the original

I got my first glimpse of the 1934 version while watching the 1995 adaptation with Jean-Paul Belmondo. The clips to which we are treated there intrigued me and after considerable rooting around the internet I managed to obtain a copy on video (to the best of my knowledge it has never been released in Britain). I was not disappointed. This is quite the fullest and most satisfying cinematic version of Hugo's extraordinary tale yet produced. Some may find the running time of around four and a half hours quite daunting, but I found that I hardly noticed the time pass. The reasons for its success are manifold. Firstly the detail and therefore the strength of the original are largely retained. Characters are properly fleshed out, and just as in the original we feel we share the characters' lives and get to know and care about them. The depth and number of characters are not sacrificed to considerations of time and commerce. Although some of the photography appears dated by modern standards, Raymond Bernard's literate script and direction are stimulating and advance the narrative at a steady pace (despite the impression created by the running time). He is masterful in the creation of atmosphere in both intimate and crowd scenes. For example the film is quite spectacular in its depiction of the 1832 uprising, yet it is deeply moving in the scenes involving Valjean and the Bishop. The music (by Arthur Honegger) has great dignity and is entirely apt to the tenor of the film and the themes it embraces. However, if the real strength of the piece is in the depth and conviction of its characters, their cinematic success is due in no short measure to the quality of the acting. Fantine (Josseline Gael) is perhaps a little melodramatic for modern tastes, and Javert (Charles Vanel) lacks a truly tragic quality, but all told the performances are faithful to the original and convincing, and none more so than Harry Baur as Valjean. His immense physical presence and slow, controlled delivery, combined with his ability to express his inner feelings with little more than a look or a moment's hesitation command our respect and sympathy, making him the perfect incarnation of the tormented but determined Valjean. It wreaks sincerity and a genuine desire to transfer not just the story, but the spirit of the original onto the big screen.

Reviewed by benoit-3 10 / 10 / 10

A masterpiece!

TFO (la Télévision Française en Ontario), the French Ontario TV channel has started showing the complete version of this 5 hours and 15 minutes piece (3 x 1 hour and 47 minutes) in three parts, on three consecutive Sundays, starting yesterday. This is a major event as this film is almost never shown, is not available on DVD and is usually cut down, when shown at all, to three hours. It is an amazing accomplishment for 1934 because of the following elements: the mobility of the camera, the sound effects, the music by Arthur Honegger, the witty, almost literary, visual ellipses, the interpretation of Baur and Vanel, the editing and eerie expressionistic camera angles, and the production values in general (sets and costumes cannot be topped). The only drawback of the TV showing is that the film is cropped vertically (the old "tops of the heads are missing" syndrome), which comes from cropping a 1.30:1 narrow ratio early-talkie film onto a 1.37:1 TV screen without pillar-boxing. It's still worth the watch. Needless to say: This is long overdue on DVD! Historical note: The creepy night scene where Cosette is sent, despite her fears, to fetch water a long way from home at the request of her heartless keepers, is a direct inspiration for Walt Disney's Snow White's panicky flight through the forest scene of three years later (1937). May 2008 update: As most of you probably know, the whole film is now available on DVD from Criterion's Eclipse series in Region 1.

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