Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Les Miz Follow-up - Commenting On Film Versions

In commenting on my recent Blog posting about Les Miserables, my son, Scott, posted the following remarks:

I wonder how many of the several FILM versions of the book you have seen, and what your opinion, compared to the stage production, is of each of them.

I won’t write extensively in response to Scott’s question, but I do want to make some brief observations.

I do not consider myself an expert on this topic. I saw the most recent version, Bille August’s 1998 release starring Liam Neeson as Valjean. I found the film to be satisfying at many levels, but as is often the case with many film adaptations of complex novels, it got lost in telling the literal story and missed much of the spiritual underpinnings of Hugo’s profound book. I had the same problem with the most recent film adaptaiton of John Irving's book, "A Prayer for Owen Meany." The film version, "Simon Birch," completely missed the point of Irving's book and was a hollow shell. But, I digress!

In my opinion, nothing comes close to the stage version in fully capturing the many dimensions of Hugo’s tale. Perhaps it is the addition of music that for me adds to the experience of watching the story unfold on stage, but when I watch the stage version, I find myself being moved to respond at several levels at once – cognitive, spiritual, emotional, philosophical. I cannot say the same for the film version – as good as it was.

In the course of thinking about Scott’s question, I found the following link in which brief reviews are offered for all of the film versions that have been made to date of Les Miserables.

http://www.geocities.com/stuartfernie/Misfilms.htm

Al

1 comment:

Ti Alan Chase said...

Of the films which I have seen, Claude Lelouch’s 1995 film "Les Miserables" is the best.
It is about a man in Nazi-occupied France who is told by others that he is like the character Jean Valjean.
Although it is not a literal retelling of the book, it does a far better job of conveying the themes of Hugo's novel than any straightforward adaptation ever has.