I had already seen the London stage show of Les Miserables so I had an idea of what to expect. It exceeded all expectations.
At a stage performance the singers have to bellow out the songs to be heard at the back of the theatre. But in this film they were able to sing with gentle passion that drew the audience close.
The scenes of poverty and suffering are the ones, I assume, that move other people early on in the film. I did consider afterwards why I did not feel as others claimed to have felt. I don’t think it is because I am hard hearted. I think I have come to my conclusion why I didn’t weep.
The film presents the viewer with facts of life; injustice, cruelty, poverty, etc. I think some people will be horrified to have to face such realities but I am not. I have been alongside many people, in many places, over the years in my role as a Christian pastor so I already knew such things exist. I have been in homes where the smell was overpowering and the dirt and grime thick. I have been with people as they have wept in hopeless despair. I have admitted I do not have an answer as I have listened to accounts of injustice and loss. Yet I am still convinced of the truth that those who trust in Jesus live forever. I have heard it said that this life is not a dress rehearsal, it is the real thing. I disagree, this life really is merely the dress rehearsal, and the best is yet to come. That is one of the messages of this film.
I already knew some of the great themes of the film. Jesus spoke of the person who could not give forgiveness (in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant – Matthew 18) and described him as being tortured. We see how one man is raised by the power of being forgiven and giving forgiveness, while we see another character fall from a height because he can not give forgiveness nor can he comprehend what Christians understand to be summed up in the word ‘grace’.
I had heard a comment that Russel Crowe’s singing was not very good. I do not expect him to read this, but if he does, I say he was excellent in it. He is an actor who was singing and not a singer who was acting. The scene where he sings, walking on the edge of a great drop, declaring his belief that he is as an angel of God’s judgement, was wonderful. The passion of his conviction was believable and terrible. As the man who could not comprehend grace, his portrayal was heart wrenching. The more so because I have known people as uncomprehending over the years, including my own father who recently died.
I noticed some of the ways the imagery of the cross was repeated. I wonder though how much of the richness of the film, including the imagery of the cross, would go over the heads of those less informed about the claims of Christ and the life he offers.