Les Misérables (2012) Movie Review and Guide | Student Handouts
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Les Misérables (2012) Film Review and Guide
World History > Reactionary Period in Europe > Age of Reaction Books and Films
Length: 157 minutes (2 hours, 37 minutes)

Review: Les Misérables is a fascinating story for film lovers and history lovers. Jean Valjean's (Hugh Jackman) imprisonment illustrates the injustices of prison systems of the time. The revolutionary ideals of the young men at the Paris barricades, led by Marius (Eddie Redmayne) highlight the dissatisfaction with France's return to a monarchical system. This film is the Age of Reaction in Europe brought to life (specifically, the June Rebellion of June 5-7, 1832, also known as the Paris Uprising of 1832).

Les Misérables (2012) Film Review and Guide for Teachers and ParentsNot a huge fan of musicals myself, I didn't expect to enjoy the singing in this film (I'd seen the Broadway version years before, and was not a big fan). But I simply loved this movie, including the music. Perhaps this was helped by the fact that the majority of the actors aren't Broadway singers, per se, but simply regular movie actors who have good voices. Singing live on set, combined with stellar acting (most notably from Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne), made the musical numbers seem more moving and less theatrical.

Perhaps the best praise came from my hard-to-please daughter. In her words: "It tried to be epic. And usually, when movies do that, it's totally cheesy. But this movie was actually epic. I really liked it." If my daughter thought it was good, your teenagers should, as well.

Accuracy: This is essentially a big-screen version of the Broadway musical, which differs slightly from Victor Hugo's novel of the same name. Interestingly, the actors are singing live on set (no lip-syncing). The setting is the troubled period of French history following the final exile of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the subsequent restoration of the Bourbon monarchy.

Age appropriateness: Tom Hooper's Les Misérables is officially rated PG-13 in the United States. The content is safe for students of junior high age and older. There is no nudity, but several characters are prostitutes. Sensitive parents of younger children may find this inappropriate.

Creators and stars: Aaron Tveit, Alain Boublil, Amanda Seyfried, Andy Beckwith, Angela Morrison, Anne Hathaway, Bernard Bellew, Cavin Cornwall, Charlotte Hope, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Colm Wilkinson, Daniel Huttlestone, Danny Cohen, Debra Hayward, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Hugh Jackman, Isabelle Allen, Liza Chasin, Michael Jibson, Natalya Angel Wallace, Paco Delgado, Russell Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen, Samantha Barks, Tim Bevan, Tom Hooper, Tony Rohr.
  EDDIE REDMAYNE as Marius in "Les Misérables", the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 28th year.   Anne Hathaway with cropped hair in Les Miserables   Russell Crowe   Amanda Seyfried   Helena Bonham Carter, Isabelle Allen, and Sacha Baron Cohen  
  Eddie Redmayne   Anne Hathaway   Russell Crowe   Amanda Seyfried   Helena Bonham Carter, Isabelle Allen, and Sacha Baron Cohen  
  Aaron Tveit   Hugh Jackman   Eddie Redmayne   Samantha Barks   Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne  
  Aaron Tveit   Hugh Jackman   Eddie Redmayne   Samantha Barks   Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne  
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Les Misérables Movie Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: January 4, 2013. Official film poster here.