Les Miserables ~ why you should love the film and why patriocentrists and other Pharisees will hate it

les miserables

 

I have wanted to write about Les Miserables since I walked out of the movie theater two weeks ago.  Several times I sat down and stared at a blank screen, struggling to find the right words to describe the experience but I could not. It left me undone.

I had known the story before going to the movie, my first exposure to Victor Hugo being in high school French class. (An aside: it really does help to have some understanding of French history and culture both from an American and European perspective as you ruminate on the messages Hugo delivers. Thank you, Mrs. Hopkins!) I had also read a couple reviews written by Christians, both positive and negative, but I was not prepared for the response that would come from my own heart as the story of grace and law unfolded on the big screen.

For whatever else it might be, Les Miserables is that, a story of two professing believers, one who chooses to live a life that reflects the grace that God showed to him and the other who denied that same grace, instead purposing to live by the very law that Scripture tells us could not save him. In many ways, the story of Jean Valjean and Javert is a picture of the struggle of faith that every Christian must face. Do we believe that God in His mercy saves and sustains us or do we believe that our own salvation and righteousness is measured by the works we perform? And, most importantly, how does our answer to this question determine how we relate to both God and man?

I am assuming that most who read these thoughts will be familiar with the main story line so I will not repeat it here. (If you are not, you might want to read a basic synopsis.) What I really want to write about is what I believe are the reasons many conservative Christians will take issue with Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Les Miserables and why many others will, unfortunately, refuse to see it altogether:

 

Conservatives have been lead to believe that the sexual aspect of the film is so provocative that seeing it will defile them. After being so incredibly moved and convicted by this film, I was very disappointed to see Focus on the Family’s Plugged In review that has created quite a bit of hype regarding the sexual nature of the film. Many reviewers have declared that their objection to the movie is the immodest dress and the behavior of the prostitutes as reported in this review. (Honestly, I am rarely comfortable reading a descriptive take on movies because I always feel more defiled by the reviews than I do by the films themselves.) Many are saying it would violate their standards to watch it or, in fact, any movie that might also contain what they consider to be immodest dress or explicit sexual behavior. (I am confused by their definition of “explicit” because some of the people most adamantly opposed to Les Miserables are also huge fans of Downton Abbey which has a couple “explicit” scenes of homosexual men kissing each other! Disclaimer: I am a Downton fan! ) Many of the negative reviews and comments I have read that were elicited by this film simply show a lack of critical thinking when it comes to discernment in the area of the arts, their “insights” sounding like “crazy talk” as one reader stated.

Further, many conservatives conclude that sexual sin begins with immodestly dressed women who tempt men to lust after them. To them, immoral women are always seen as the temptress rather than a possible victim of society’s circumstances or a sinner in need of a Savior. They believe that Eve and her daughters, ie all women, are responsible for man’s lust, though Scripture tells us “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:14-16) A Christian man ought to be deeply moved with compassion rather than “finding disgust” as one Christian confessed. Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Fantine, the young mother whose downward spiral into prostitution is played out every day in the lives of millions of real women who are caught up in sex trafficking, is appropriately raw and tormenting. One man I know stated it clearly and accurately: “Any man who was tempted to lust by this film has some serious issues and any Christian tempted by this film has some serious spiritual issues.”

 

The historical backdrop of Les Miserables is one of class struggle, hierarchy, and the resulting abuse by those in power toward those who are not.   Patriocentrists and others whose church polity and family life cannot be imagined apart from hierarchy would be repulsed by Jean Valjean’s picture of heaven as liberty and freedom for the masses. (I am thinking of the priesthood of the believer concept that is central to true reformation thought.) They would also be horrified at the idea of revolution. I am guessing this aspect of the film is even more troubling within some circles that espouse heavy-handed views of church authority and reject equality than the sexual theme. I often wonder how Pharisees see heaven. Do they see it as a place with lots of rules and regulations?

 

And this brings me to the key message of Les Miserables, the truth of what living by law and living by grace look like up close and personal. Jean Valjean is the archetype of grace, the sinner running from a God who pursues him rather than a modern day “seeker.” He is the recipient of irresistible grace. Though Hugo was not a professing Christian, he understood what true repentance and salvation looks like; Hugo’s perspective of theology is spot on. He understood that we sin because we are sinners at the very core of our being and that, no matter how dependent we are on God’s grace, we are forever tempted to “explain”, as Jean Valjean did, why we sinned. What true believer does not face this temptation daily? Hugh Jackman’s performance as the wonderful Jean Vanjean was stellar, winning him a well-deserved Oscar nomination and bringing a quality to the character on film that has been missed on the stage.

 

But to consider Les Miserables’ message of redemption alone does not do justice to the power of this movie. From my perspective, the most compelling character was Javert. Though many have considered Russell Crowe’s performance to be weak, I disagree. In fact, I think his rendition was powerful. Javert reminds me too much of all Pharisees I have known; he reminded me too much of myself.  “Mine is the way of the Lord,” he declared.  “Those who follow the path of the righteous shall have their reward….those who fall must pay the price. Let me find him that I may see him behind bars; I will never rest until then.” As Tim Keller so aptly points out in his book, The Prodigal God, that examines the parable we know as “the prodigal son,” we are all the “older brother” who cannot bear to see God’s offer of grace in the life of someone else. Ultimately, many refuse to accept that grace for themselves and this explains why I believe the Pharisees among us will never be able to abide Les Miserables. The law can never stand face to face with grace and win.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

There were other aspects of Hooper’s Les Miserables I appreciated. Artistic and multi-layered characters are rarely seen in the canned “Christian” films that are popular within the Christian culture but Hooper allowed his cast to show us their true selves. His choice to record their singing as they acted on camera, rather than recording and dubbing in later, and taking the lens deep into their personal space gave us a reality that speaks into our hearts. For that reason, more than any other, the PG-13 rating should apply.

Be prepared to be challenged, stretched, and convicted by Les Miserables. Leave your Pharisee friends at home.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

For some good insights into Les Miserables check out Bob Bixby’s thoughts as well as the Kuyperian commentary.

 

 photo Blog__Sidebar_Hello_zps79b9481b.png

Comments

  1. says

    Well said. I first saw the musical on stage in London during my last year in law school. I too was deeply moved by the message. We all do have Javert in us – particularly those of us who grew up in good circumstances and have never known poverty.

    I think you have hit the essence of the Patricentric view of sin: Sin is something that comes from the outside, whether it is through the dress of women, the taint of the “marxist” public schools, the television, or whatever. If we could just avoid all evil influence, we wouldn’t sin. Keep the outside of that glass clean, right?

    You might also enjoy Hugo’s short poem “After the Battle,” which was my first exposure to Hugo. It is worth looking up.

  2. Anthea says

    Thanks for this review. Really great to have that perspective.

    PS I did not like Downton Abbey, as I had seen Gosford Park and it’s sooo much better. Julian Fellowes’ TV scripts are full of clunky anachronisms, and I saw lots of manipulative elements. Perhaps churning out 20 episodes for ratings has blunted his edge somewhat?

  3. Kris says

    I saw an earlier version of this movie with Liam Neeson and have always loved this movie. I love the grace messages of this movie. Those messages are clearly seen in this movie! It’s a fantastic film!

  4. says

    I’ve always been a huge Les Mis fan. The book is amazing.

    But I’m not sure I will watch this movie. Why? Not because of the reasons you list. Because I’m a musical theatre loyalist, and the Broadway play is the way I love this one. I saw the Liam Neeson movie a few years ago and it was great, but it wasn’t the live-on-stage musical.

    Plus, with all the latest Hollywood “do as I say, not as I do” junk with the 2nd Amendment showdown & gun control, I am being very careful how I spend my money to pad their pockets (not a religious rant but a patriotic one)

    However I hear great things about this version. I may see it in time. Just not now.

  5. says

    My friends and I were wanting to see it badly last night, but it wasn’t playing at the right time for us!

    I can’t wait to see it! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  6. MrsB says

    Thank you for putting into words what I haven’t been able to yet…The message of grace vs. the law overwhelmed me during this movie. I have seen it as a stage production once, watched one other movie, listened to the music, watched a PBS production…and somehow I missed this aspect every single time!

  7. Anthea says

    Hello Karen et al

    I think you will enjoy a complementary view of Les Mis. This is the podcast page of the best film radio review programme in the universe — BBC Radio’s Kermode and Mayo. Simon Mayo is a C of E Christian, Kermode yer average secular bod.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/kermode

    Click on the show labelled Anne Hathaway. The first section is a fun run-down of the top ten films in the UK, with email reviews by listeners. Then there’s an interview with Anne Hathaway re her role in Les Mis at the 33 minute mark. About 15 mins later is the review of Les Mis itself.

    Then the fun begins — Didya like the film? Can Russell Crowe sing? Does it matter? Does Les Mis work as a film? Anyone who has lived in or around London over the last 20 years got used to the big queues at Cambridge Circus. Even those of us who have not seen the show FEEL as if we have!

    Mark Kermode jokes around with his co-host, but he really knows his stuff re film technique etc. I believe he also touches on the topic of your post.

    PS Did you notice the volume control on the podcast goes to 11?

  8. Noel says

    Couldn’t agree with your review more! These “Christians” who think the movie is so trashy and sexual, I have one question… Have any of you read the book? These contrasts are hugely important! Who are we as Christians called to help? Sin is messy, repulsive but the Grace of Christ breaks the grip of hopelessness and hate.

  9. Granddad says

    Earlier this year I saw the movie version with Michael Renee as J.V. To my embarrassment I must confess I never read the book…I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Then a few weeks ago I listened to Michale Horton of The White Horse Inn discuss the musical with David Zahl of the Mockingbird blog (http://www.mbird.com/) (I strongly urge you to listen to it at whitehorseinn.com) and vowed that I would not miss this performance. I will contribute my 2 cents when I’ve seen it.

  10. says

    I saw the stage production twice when I lived on Los Angeles and fell in love with the musical. I was beyond excited when the movie was announced.

    Lindsey – I found the movie to be an incredibly moving experience. As much as I loved the production, I was never really emotionally moved by the performances. The movie had me in tears (especially Anne Hathaway’s performance) several times. To me, the way it was filmed just brought the raw emotion into it. A stage production is too polished for me to catch that.

    I agree that Russel Crowe’s presence as Javert was very good. However, I thought his singing was lacking. He was believable, though. At the end when he’s walking on the edge, my son said (out loud), “No! Don’t jump!”

    We took my kids (15, and 11) to see this on Christmas day. My 15-year-old wants to see it again. The 11-year-old thought it was good, but too long. The only scene in the movie that I wish they would have kept out was the Santa scene at the inn. I thought that was a bit unnecessary. Otherwise, this is one I’m sure we’ll purchase when it comes out on DVD.

    BTW – Did you know that at one point Sacha Baron Cohen lost his voice during filming? He offered to lip-sync the part, but the director refused. They took a week off for him to heal up. That’s what made the movie so great – the director’s vision to film while the actors sang.

  11. says

    I am glad you liked my article on Kuyperian Commentary! (At least more than my article “King’s Daughters”)

    As someone who values the Bible’s view of the family, what you call a “patriocentrist”, I loved the movie and agree with many of the points you’ve made here. Javert was great and his weak “vocal ability” really added to the character.

    I think the issue is sentimentalism, not the view of the family.

  12. says

    “To me, the way it was filmed just brought the raw emotion into it. A stage production is too polished for me to catch that.”

    Kathi, this is exactly why it was such a powerful film!

  13. says

    Granddad, anxious to hear your take on it. I think you will respond in the same way I did, so incredibly grieved by those who cannot embrace grace!

  14. says

    Skipping over entirely your assertion that patriocentricity is the Biblical view of the family since have provided plenty of articles making my case why this is NOT true, I am just wondering what you mean by this statement. I am puzzled….

    “I think the issue is sentimentalism, not the view of the family.”

  15. says

    Sentimentalism is the desire to avoid evil, to avoid pain, to avoid the material world because this “physical” stuff is evil.

    Instead of being born sinners, humans are basically benevolent so that any evil that may come and pollute them isn’t their fault, but that of the material, “evil” world.

    Sentimentalism is resenting God’s world instead of recognizing that God also uses pain, suffering, and evil for His glory.

  16. Anthea says

    That sounds like buddhism. Sentimentalism in literature is nothing to do with philosophy, and everything to do with soppiness and soft focus. Sentimentalism in philosophy is also v different from what the poster above has described.

    A case for Inigo Montoya, methinks.

  17. FREED says

    Does nobody else find it disturbing that anyone would feel compelled to write a blog entry from this angle? The extremely conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical Christian subculture in this country is truly frightening. I would not validate it with such an effort–it would be wasted on those who need most to hear it. IMO, if you are close enough for these Patriocentrists and Pharisees to stump or irritate you, you are TOO DAMN CLOSE! RUN AWAY!

  18. Avelinn says

    I’m really trying to figure out the best way to respond to this. The bottom line is, different things are stumbling blocks to different people. And while you will get no argument from me regarding legalism within patriarchy circles, I feel it’s really important to keep in mind that struggles with the flesh vary greatly from Christian to Christian. I consider it to be highly possible that a healthy, well-intending, godly Christian would find it impossible to go and see this movie due to the much debated “sexual” content. Perhaps it might have to do with their own sexual past or things they have been previously exposed to, whether through their own will or that of someone else. Or it could just be a God-breathed conviction for them. I would not look at a Christian who struggled with alcohol abuse and question why in the world they could not enjoy a simple glass of wine and justify my lack of understanding by saying that Jesus himself drank and that a glass of wine is harmless. Because the struggle would be there for that person regardless of the fact that perhaps it’s not there for me. I think the same goes here. It does not necessarily follow that a Christian who would not feel spiritually released to see Les Mis should be characterized in the following way: “Any man who was tempted to lust by this film has some serious issues and any Christian tempted by this film has some serious spiritual issues.” I believe this is lacking in both wisdom and discernment and more seriously, calls Christians who feel so convicted to question their own relationship with God and more seriously, feel a certain fear about revealing their struggles with others.

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the film and that God used it in a powerful way for you. But just as I cannot question the way that God dealt with you regarding this film, it is unwise and perhaps a bit presumptuous to question how God would deal with another regarding it. I think in some way, you are trying to make that very point regarding those who would judge you for watching it. I do believe your post is well intended. But I feel that all you are doing is shifting the pendulum in the opposite direction instead of bringing balance, which I think is what you are striving for.

    Blessings to you…

  19. Granddad says

    Freed: Would you elaborate on when a conservative, evangelical (using this word in it’s proper context) becomes extreme? I am making the assumption (which can be risky) that you are referring to those within the patriocentric movement such as Vision Forum.

    The very folks who need to hear what real grace is — not grace tainted by performance and law-keeping — are families who are already under the influence of VF-type groups, or who are being wooed by them. I will not run away from them! I know Karen certainly won’t.

  20. says

    Freed, believe you me, there are many days I would love to run away from all these teaching, screaming, in fact! But the truth is, they are growing in many circles and have great influence within the homeschooling community. Did you realize that over half of the homeschooling conventions, for example, frequently feature speakers who promote these views? Ideas (and teachings) have consequences and the consequences of this stuff is destroying individuals, marriages, and families. As ugly as it is, I have no intention of walking away from it.

  21. says

    Avelinn, I appreciate your thoughts but wonder, have you seen this film or are you getting your information from the Plugged In review or other bloggers? My impression is that you are assuming things that aren’t exactly accurate about what the film does and does not portray.

    As much as I understand what you are saying about avoiding temptation, I stand by my assertion that any man tempted by the women in Les Miserables has issues. A Christian man confronted with the evil in this story has only two proper responses: compassion and clear conviction for ever seeing women as objects.

    I just watched the documentary Half the Sky over the weekend and had a very similar response. Hearing the stories of these women is probably worse than what was depicted in Les Miserables and yet I believe every single man ought to watch it. The attitudes that lead to sex trafficking, prostitution, etc. are the same ones we hear regularly in patriocentric circles today. As my husband rightly observed, these attitudes are the same and lead to the idea that men can do whatever they want to women…it is all about power and control.

    Over 130 millions women worldwide experience genital mutilation, most around 7 or 8 years of age. When asked why they continue this horrible practice, knowing that it leads to lifelong pain and severe consequences during pregnancy and childbirth, the response is that men want pure women and this is the only way to assure that this happens. They use this to control their daughters. It reminded me so much of all the reasons women aren’t allowed to go to college or in some situations not allowed to go out alone. They are called “maidens” or “virgins” to connote their purity, assuming that purity represents their value. I could go on…so, so many familiar things as I watched and listened.

    Here is a great article that goes along with this:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture/2013/01/this-should-go-without-saying-stop-blaming-rape-on-women/

  22. Avelinn says

    I am being completely honest with you when I say that I have not read one review of this movie other than yours. I’m not a big Les Mis person, so I have not in any way followed the hype surrounding the movie, whether positive or negative. I saw the Liam Neeson version of the film many years ago with my husband and just wasn’t all that moved, believe it or not. So I haven’t felt anxious to see it. My sister saw it and loved it. And I confess, I went on youtube to catch a glimpse of Anne Hathaway singing “I Dreamed a Dream”. But I am really not basing my critique of what you have said on anything but what you yourself have said.

    And believe it or not, my thoughts don’t go to the issue of avoiding temptation. They go to the issue of not judging what God is doing in or with another believer. I believe God can whisper to places in our hearts if we make ourselves open to him. And I believe that God could whisper to another believer not to go and see that movie. Maybe because of a weakness in them that they aren’t even aware of. God gave the Hebrews rules about how to govern their lives and much of the time I’m sure they didn’t even know or understand the reason for the rules. But obeying was to their benefit as he was trying to protect them. And while there may not be a need for protection from something in the movie for you, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for protection for another one of his children. I am a huge Downton Abbey fan as well. But I know there are believers who could not watch the show. And I have to be willing to respect that. I can feel secure in the freedom I feel to watch it. But I have to be able to feel secure enough to not feel threatened when another believer says their heart will not allow them watch it. Our job as believers is to obey what the still small voices whispers to us. And praise God that he can be Lord of all, and yet still the Lord of each of us separately, that we can all cry out to him “Abba, Father” as if we were the only ones in the world.

    It is always hard when the Lord shows us something real and important not to veer off on our own path. My thoughts as far as the patriocentric circles is that God may have shown them legitimate things. I’m sure he has and did. Problems within the family unit, issues with the public schools, and a host of other things. But we are a fallen people. And even those of us who know the Lord and his redemptive power struggle against the flesh. So we often go our own way, taking up our own cause and abandoning that of Christ. It’s not that God didn’t do or show us something legitimate. It’s that we struggle not to make those things into our cause. I think this happens in these circles and with all of us, really. And it CAN lead to dangerous places and things. But the places you are speaking of, where genital mutilation is common among women. Those things happen because people don’t understand the beautiful picture of loving sex that God has given us in the bible. That it is not dirty for a woman to enjoy sex, and it doesn’t take away her purity if she does. I don’t see that in the patriocentric circles. I think there is fear there. Fear of the world and there is a desperation to keep women pure. But to be fair, I see that same desperation for the men as well. These families want both their sons and daughters to remain pure, and perhaps, in some instances, they resort to legalism in order to accomplish that goal.

    I will read the article as soon as I get a chance. I do very much understand your concern about these circles and for the women in them. I have concerns for the men as well. I see a lot of idolatry in this movement. But the convictions, even within this movement vary greatly. I mean, I have seen Voddie Baucham refer to Braveheart as his favorite movie and I know a number of Christians who aren’t in the patriarchy movement who wouldn’t go near it. Honestly, some of these families scare me to pieces, and there are others who I may not agree with, but I sense their hearts for their families and for the Lord are sincere. I will say that I find it odd that many of them seem to have such strong objections to immodest dress and yet they are passionate about all things Jane Austen. There was definitely immodesty in that time and in pretty much all the current movies made representative of her books.

  23. Avelinn says

    Just to add: I feel I need to apologize if it sounded like I was over-simplifying the issue of mutilation and trafficking and just general abuse of women around the world. Please don’t misunderstand. I understand these issues are complex, hugely important, and speak to a larger issue of women not being viewed as equals to men. I really didn’t mean to simplify that issue into one sentence. I know it’s bigger than the way it may have sounded coming me. I was just trying to focus on expounding on the heart of what I was trying to share.

  24. says

    Avelinn,

    I understand what you are saying. I won’t see “Les Mis”. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I would never watch “Braveheart”. Can’t handle the violence, even when done in historical movies. For example, I couldn’t watch the battle scenes in Season 2 of “Downton Abbey”. They were too intense for me. I wouldn’t watch “Half the Sky”. It would be too emotionally disturbing. I don’t have a problem with others watching them, but I’m super selective about what I view. Visuals simply overwhelm me.

    So I understand the point you are making. Some people (like me) are super selective about what they view because it is a personal conviction. I wouldn’t expect other people to make the same choices I’ve mentioned above. They have a freedom in those areas I don’t. And I probably have other freedoms they don’t. 🙂

  25. says

    Sallie, I appreciate what you are saying. I cannot watch blood in a movie or even in surgery in a tv show! But what I am trying to say is different than this.

    My concern about the big issue that has been made in some circles about Les Miserables is that it is allowing people to think it is ok to be disgusted with and blame women for man’s lust. Rather, our hearts should be moved with compassion. If a man thinks he may be tempted by the sight of a filthy dirty prostitute who has sold her hair and teeth to feed her child, I believe he has some spiritual issues that ought to be addressed. I am also trying to make the point that the emphasis on this aspect of the movie has been blown way out of proportion and I think that at the heart of the aversion is some of the other things I mentioned rather than the actual issuse of “immodesty.”

    Yes, if someone thinks they will be tempted if they see something, by all means, avoid it. But at the same time, we each need to examine our hearts and deal with the sin that is there. Otherwise, we will become totally ineffective in ministry to others. I am wondering how men who think they will be tempted by the women in Les Miserables deal with half dressed women who come into their churches.

  26. Granddad says

    I saw Les Miserables yesterday. I’m not a movie critic, but I’ll through in my 2 cents on what I thought of it.

    I had two reasons for wanting to see it: first was because of the great discussion about it on the White Horse Inn, and second to see how some people might object to it. The first, however, was my primary reason.

    I’m used to movie musicals such as My Fair Lady that combine spoken dialog with music. L.M. has almost no spoken dialog. I was quite surprised by it. I wish there had been more spoken lines.

    The movie itself was gritty and, from what I known of 19th century Europe, accurately portrayed the widespread squalor and “nastiness” of the era. Quite a difference between this version and the 1952 B&W I saw earlier this year. This naturally leads into the issue of the prostitutes. Did I find the scenes salacious? Hardly! In fact, they were disgusting. There was nothing appealing about these women (ladies does not fit the bill). The scenes were, in my opinion, designed to increase your sympathy for Fantine and to continue Valjean’s road of redemption. (The song “I Dreamed a Dream” takes on an entire different perspective when seen in the film or stage presentation.)

    Discussing here the differences between Javert’s dedication to the law and Valjean’s discovery of grace would be superfluous for me; the White Horse Inn discussion does it far better than I could hope to. Let it be enough to say that the core of the gospel is discernible — if you are looking for it. This aspect of the film could make for an interesting Sunday School discussion.

    I was not disappointed by the movie; I do think I need to read the novel, though. Would I see it again, probably not. Am I glad I saw it in a theater and not on DVD? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only after explaining just a little about what to expect.

  27. Joella says

    Les Miserables is an powerful story, but seeing graphic sexual depiction of women on the big screen, wait a minute, because men who are steeped into porn, and families whose lives are torn apart from it, this movie is only destructive. The state of Utah where polygamy is most accepted is also where statistics show they are the highest porn users. Why, men are trapped in a false reality and no movie wakes them up, they are numb to spiritual things, it only feeds the internal passion of pleasure/narcissism.

    My husband & I have counseled several marriages through the past 5 years, both pre and post marital. We have observed especially in the last 2 years how bad television & movies have gotten. [sensual/sexual] It seems to be only getting worse.

    I have read in the last 2 years, 2 out of 3 being NON-christian–SECULAR books. (The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch {2007}, Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World by Rafe Esquith {2009}, & The Improvement of the Mind by Issac Watts {1700’s}) All 3 books suggest that TV/Theatre/Plays is a waste of time.

    Yet many marriages & families live in dysfunction while FaceBook, TV, internet, & movies get the time required to be alluded into thinking life is normal, yet really their life is out of control, chaotic, & fairy-tale like as they feed their emotions, & egos/addictions.

    Avoid temptations, they are real and will pull you in subtly. FREEDOM in Christ to say “NO to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:12

    God’s Word holds true; we honor His Word and recognize that His followers are imperfect (i.e., hampered by sin). But choose to abstain if God convicts.

    Blessings,
    Joella

  28. Granddad says

    thatmom:
    Thanks for the GREAT link above. Made me tear up a couple of times.

    Joella, I am truly sadden by your opinion of this magnificent film.

    Folks, if you have not seen the movie, by all means do so. Watch and see the glory of God’s grace revealed and the most horrible burden the law imposes.

  29. Joella says

    I admit I have not seen this film. I have seen it on Broadway. Perhaps when they release the DVD of “Les Miserables” I’ll watch it through clearplay, a filtering system, to filter objectionable material.

    Another movie written by a French writer about the same time as “Les Miserable” is “The Count of Monte Cristo.” by Alexandre Dumas [2002]. Both movies about revenge and forgiveness. These stories are both powerful.

    As always use discernment and Godly conscious when Hollywood reproduces a book into a movie: they add their own twist. All movies have there emotional appeals and agendas. Hollywood is a Christian’s enemy. Two polar opposite cultures.

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Conservatives have been lead to believe that the sexual aspect of the film is so provocative that seeing it will defile them. After being so incredibly moved and convicted by this film, I was very disappointed to see Focus on the Family’s Plugged In review that has created quite a bit of hype regarding the sexual nature of the film.

    1) Can you say “SEXUAL OBSESSION”?

    2) Standard Christianese movie review (at least for anything not starring Kirk Cameron) = itemized checklist of how many times Sin X is shown, how many times Sin Y is shown, how many times Sin Z is shown…

    Further, many conservatives conclude that sexual sin begins with immodestly dressed women who tempt men to lust after them. To them, immoral women are always seen as the temptress rather than a possible victim of society’s circumstances or a sinner in need of a Savior.

    That way lies the burqa, the locked harem, the religious police with their whips and memorized Holy Book, and flesh turned into piles of rocks to the cheers of “God is Great! Praise God!”

    The historical backdrop of Les Miserables is one of class struggle, hierarchy, and the resulting abuse by those in power toward those who are not.

    As in “Hits a little too close to home”?

    And this brings me to the key message of Les Miserables, the truth of what living by law and living by grace look like up close and personal. Jean Valjean is the archetype of grace, the sinner running from a God who pursues him rather than a modern day “seeker.” He is the recipient of irresistible grace.

    As contrasted to, say, Inspector Javert? Who personifies Law in counterpoint to Valjean’s personification of Grace?

    And the thing is (disclaimer: I have never read the original novel or seen the flick), Javert doesn’t strike me as an evil man, just a man obsessed who has developed a bad case of tunnel vision in his pursuit of Valjean, “the one who got away”. (Is Valjean the only one in Javert’s career who got away? Spoiling Javert’s otherwise-perfect record of “getting his man”? That would explain a lot.)

    Though Hugo was not a professing Christian, he understood what true repentance and salvation looks like; Hugo’s perspective of theology is spot on.

    I would like to point out that Hugo would have come from a culture influenced by a LITURGICAL church background. Even if “lapsed”/non-practicing, exposure to liturgical christianity does influence an author — by osmosis if nothing else. Liturgy tends to teach symbology and story, even unconsciously. It is no coincidence that the Christian works which have become Mainstream successes and classics came from a Western-rite Liturgical Church background — Catholic, Anglican, or Lutheran. (For some reason, probably cultural, Eastern-rite b/gs don’t seem to go in for fiction.) Even lapsed, the influence is there.

    (As contrasted to non-liturgical Christianese classics like, say, Left Behind…)

Trackbacks

  1. […] Les Mis is a love story: Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius, Fantine’s self-sacrificing love for Cosette,Valjean’s fatherly love for Cosette, the revolutionaries’ love for country, love of friends, and above all, God’s forgiving and transforming love . Because as said, I am lazy, let me just direct you to these sites who have already done a wonderful job of discussing grace vs. law in the film. Click here, here, here and here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *