Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Les Misérables

My French teacher took a large group of students to see Les Mis on Friday. It was incredible. The director managed to take the musical and put it on an epic scale, but retain the intimate relationships, at least as much as he could. I think that a direct adaptation from Hugo's book presents the familial relationships between Jean Valjean and Cosette, and the love between Cosette and Marius more deeply, but the essence of the message is still there.

The film is incredibly Catholic, perhaps even more Catholic than the book. That's hard to do, even when one notes that there is a display of frustration with those trying to restore the Bourbons and the Church as it existed pre-Revolution.  I can't blame him for that, since even the Pope didn't like the monarch's supervision of the Church. Colm Wilkinson, as the Bishop of Digne, puts a strong emphasis on his offering of bread and wine to Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean. I admit, I thought that he was charitable in giving him food, but totally missed that he was talking about the Blessed Sacrament! "And I have claimed your soul for God!" That's the way to be a priest.

There are crucifixes, and cross-shapes in the shadows, in nearly every scene. It looks like that Jean Valjean dies in the Parisian convent in the film, not at home like in the book, so when he is dying as he looks at the Bishop's candles, he is also looking at the altar crucifix, which is presumably above a tabernacle; that would be at least the second shot of Adoration in the film. No human power can redeem us. Truly, only by the grace of God are we saved, and eternal was purchased by the Cross. Whether they meant it or not, or whether they actually believe it, that is the message which is abundantly clear in the film. I also just realized something about the candles. In traditional Christian symbolism, bees symbolize purity, and the beeswax used in church candles represents the pure Flesh extracted from the Virgin. Ergo, he looks at the Holy Grail of sorts.

All right, here's my one beef. They went to all the effort to dress the Bishop for his morning Mass with a maniple and all, but his stole is over his chasuble!! The vestments are beautiful though.

For your enjoyment. This is one of my favorite songs in the whole movie.

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