Book vs Film (Guest Reviews)

Les Miserables, Book vs Film

So this months Book vs Film was Les Miserables. Like last time Liam has reviewed the book for my blog and I have reviewed the film for his, for which I will add the link at the bottom so you can see what I had to say. It was a very hard review for me to write so do check it out.

Anyway here is what Liam had to say..

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Book v Film: Les Miserables (Hugo, 1862)

Word of warning: if you’re expecting a fluffy story about some Frenchmen who sing and dance their way through a revolution, I urge you to stick with Harry Potter. Victor Hugo’s epic 1200 page novel is not just a way of passing the time; it’s a feat of endurance, and a marvelous one. I’m not a book worm, which is after all why I’m doing this feature (broadening horizons and all that), and no discredit to Tom Hooper’s valiant Oscar winning adaptation, but there is no film in the world that can capture the drama, the tragedy, and everything in between that makes the novel so enthralling.

To be honest, the first 50-70 pages will test your patience, and you may as well skip right on past because it has almost no relevance to the rest of the story. But as soon as Jean Valjean arrives it picks up, and the story quickly latches on to him. Rather like the film, Valjean is the protagonist and catalyst, taking us from one place and time to another, from one extraordinary tale to the next, the most touching of which is Fantine’s.

She is cursed to destitution, and her personal sacrifice to save the child she gave to a better home (or so she thought) will bring you to tears. The highlight of the film is the outstanding performance of I Dreamed A Dream, but where the film gets us in one powerful swoop, the novel is emotional torture, as each devastating twist drags us further into her miserable world. The climax of her tale is heartbreaking. If you make it this far into the story you will be gripped.

There is however a lengthy tangent where Hugo writes a play-by-play analysis of The Battle of Waterloo, which seems to serve no purpose at all. And perhaps if the book has any flaws it is these almost irritating digressions. But compensation is adequately provided in a moving and elaborate tale using 19th century France as a backdrop.

Though Fantine’s story is the most memorable, the most compelling character is that of Eponine, who is introduced early on as an infant, and carefully embellished throughout the story. Circumstances, we come to understand, are merely a burden on her heart, tugging her away from a life she wants, perhaps deserves. But the central theme to this book is self-empowerment, or a lack of in many cases. Misfortune is inflicted relentlessly on most characters, but it is the struggle, the cause, and the fight (literally) for individual liberty that unites their stories, whether it be one woman’s struggle to provide for her child, a man’s emotional rehabilitation, or full blown civil war.

It might be sat on your bookshelf for a while, but I guarantee once you read Les Miserable you will be blown away. If you have seen the film you should abandon all expectations, because even though the casting was perfect the book wins hands down for me.

Here is the link for my review;


One thought on “Les Miserables, Book vs Film

  1. I love the film and after this fantastic review I will read the book. Because there are different versions of the film, and I really want to know what the book says. Thank you for the review!

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