Les Miserables Book vs 2012 musical

by missizziemcguinness

Les Miserables (or The wretched) has been adapted through many film adaptations, originally written in French in the 1862 Victor Hugo volumes then translated into English and performed in many stage productions. I am only going to focus on the (translated) Victor Hugo masterpiece and the 2012 musical. 


This was a holiday read to pass time and cure boredom as there wasn’t a working DVD player, wi-fi or internet on holiday (first world problems!). 

Anyway, I finished in in 5 days, and although Victor Hugo often went off on a tangent about Napolean and the Paris sewers quite often, it offered a wider background story for the main characters such as Cosette (Euphraise), the child of Fantine , or Jean Valjean, the ex convict on the run from years in prison as he breaks parole. At over 1000 pages, it is a rather chunky and meaty read so (including the pages of Napoleon and details which were not exactly relevant or readable), it is way too long to be predictable, even after watching the  recent film many times. The bigger details in the musical film cover 1 sentence- 100 pages in the book. The longer the novel is sometimes the better, particuarly if it has many film productions. 

Some of the themes would only matter if you were studying History, French or probably some form of English Lit, but as a casual reader, Napolean is not as important as getting something out of the book itself. 

I liked how Javier the police inspector had so much power to treat Valjean as a prisoner, but towards the end it is as if he is a hollow guy who cannot keep control of  Valjean and you could almost visualize the man become powerless as he has no choice but to kill himself.

The relationship between Cosette and Marius was sweet, or the fact that Eponine was ‘friendzoned‘ by Marius both in the musical and the book. I did not expect to cry when reading this book as it comes towards the last pages and my patience runs out by then, but it was just really sad, and the same goes for the musical. 

The book is probably a bit more specific than the 2012 movie, and some parts dragged on while others were very much gripping, especially when it started getting into the story. I only really read books and say that they are good or not, and they are usually alot shorter than 1200 pages, but I just loved this one.


Gripping, sad, and artistically written in plenty of depth.

Verdict: 4.9/5

2012 Musical

I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living!

Film Title: Les Misérables

Tom Hooper directs this recent musical adaptation based on the novel by Victor Hugo which I have reviewed above. It stars Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfriend to name a few. 

Les Miserables, both the novel and the films,is set in 19th century France and  is about an ex convict called Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) (24601) who breaks parole and changes his ways, escapes his past and avoids suspicion from Javert, an inspector who tries to hunt him down. 

The musical itself narrows the 1200 page masterpiece down to a realistic dark 2 and a half long film which is dark, enjoyable and faithful to the flow of the book with a few changes here and there. As it is an all star cast, it probably makes the film better. Anne Hathaway has the face to play anyone, so she fits the role of Fantine and her performance was strong and heartfelt. Hugh Jackman is ageless in terms of his charecter, so he could play anyone and his singing was low and from the heart. As for Russell Crowe, I recently watched one of his other films called Gladiator and I could only see Javert in his charecter. 

.As a musical, the singing adds depth to the scene and you you can feel the charecters true pain instead of sitting through hours of pointless dialogue. In my personal opinion, my favourite song out of the whole film is ‘At the end of the day’ for no specific reason or ‘empty chairs at empty tables‘ for its emotional depth. The only problem is that the long first- meet scene between Marius and Cosette were alot shorter in this film, making it more of a clichéd staring at each other with awe thing, and the Thernadiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen) were more comical in the musical even if they were suppose to be evil.

There’s just something about this movie, (of which when I first watched it, was three hours of singing while my sister and I ate Hagen Dass ice cream), which draws you in, makes you somewhat laugh, cry, and realistically feel sorry for the charecters. We have the soundtrack playing all the time in the car and not trying to publicly shame my mum, but she loves Hugh Jackman so we watch it for that reason to. 


If you have seen the film, or read the novel, which do you prefer? If you like the 2012 musical, what is your favourite song from it?