When God Met The Miserable: A Review of “Les Miserables”

Director's chair

Jean Valjean; prisoner to prince

I never cry in movies. I hardly cry at all in real life. Ask any of my friends. For the second time since this wonderful movie (musical?) hit theaters, my heart has never been so touched and so surprised to cry– and cry hard. The first time I was with my friend Naomi (if you recall she also made an appearance in my last blog post about Blue Like Jazz). She and I both cried and wept and agreed: it was a spiritual experience. Thank you, Sam Fagan, for informing us it would be something powerful. I will never forget this movie and it’s exceptional story and power. Thank you also, Faith, for wanting to see if I needed a hug after this because I was shaking so much. Ha. Good times.

The true power of the movie, moreso than even the music, was the message behind it. The message of forgiveness. God “met the miserable” people on earth by showing us His great love and forgiveness at the cross. Without being too preachy, I will try to elaborate. In this movie, the main character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman, ladies and gents) was shown extraordinary kindness and “given hope when none was found” by a kind priest in the mountains. In return he broke parole and began a new life– thus we see the transforming power of Jesus and what forgiveness can do. I have realized, it is definitely a very Christian trait to forgive. I like how the NLT says it (this is in context of a prostitute Jesus was defending):

“I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:47

So Bam! Love. Right off the bat we see a huge part of Redemption. This theme is only reinforced and magnified throughout the film. As Jean Valjean leads his new life, he constantly makes these incredibly hard decisions– all of which revolve around loving others and then surrendering himself to be taken in once again. He spares an innocent man’s life though he is given a chance to use his death as a means to escape the curse of the law. Yet he does this one act which spins him into a non-stop pursuit of fleeing from the law personified, Captain Javert (Russell Crowe). If you have read the book or seen one of the musicals/plays/movies, you know the turning point. Read no further if you don’t like spoilers. Just sayin’. Valjean is finally given another opportunity to end the life of his deadly pursuer, and yet he lets him go– without manipulation, stipulation, or any kind of compensation. This, my friends, is huge. This is where we see even more the power of Grace and forgiveness. To not be aware of that, well, I believe you might need to experience this for yourself. It is powerful.

As you have noticed, I am not here to gush about the technological aspects or theatrical elements or even musical talents of the cast thereof. That would do no real justice to the story. The story of how Jean Valjean loved this little girl, Cossette (Amanda Seyried), and loved her mother unto her death, and loved everyone he came in contact with. He loved his enemy; he loved the young man who would come and carry his daughter away to be his bride; he loved the poor and saw them (he became the mayor of the town to employ and help hundreds of people, not to mention he got down and dirty and lifted a cart off from a fallen man). Such love can only come from one who has truly been loved by God.

The movie says it best: “To love another person is to see the face of God”.

And you know what? It doesn’t end there. I have a few friends who have questioned Christianity because they think when we get to heaven all we do is sit around on clouds and look at God. Jesus, here, has a little bit of Truth to spread about that:

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

At the breathtaking conclusion of “Les Miserables” we see the souls of the departed, echoing their anthem and fight song, all together, all like one. The “castle on a cloud” Cossette sings of. This is truly a picture of heaven for me. Jesus wants to show us He is all about community, and we often forget that we got it. When we die, there is a place prepared for us– a place where we can go and not only see Jesus but hang out with him and a bunch of other loved ones! Needless to say, I cried at the ending.


3 responses to “When God Met The Miserable: A Review of “Les Miserables”

  1. That was a great post Diana. Les Miserables is one of my favorite stories and Hugo ranks up there in terms of author’s for me. I love the way he used written word to reveal some truth about who Jesus is and what he has done. Hunchback is the same way. A few years ago we went to Paris and I got to see his house. It was an incredible experience seeing and walking around the places he wrote about. Gave a bit more weight to the stories.

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