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Film / Les Misérables (2012)

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Fight. Dream. Hope. Love.

"Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men.
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!"
Do You Hear the People Sing?

Les Misérables is a 2012 film version of the stage musical of the same name, itself an adaptation of Victor Hugo's epic novel of the same name. While primarily based on the musical, the film also incorporates elements from the novel that were left out of the original production.

Like the novel and musical, the film chronicles the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a reformed criminal who becomes mayor of a small town in France. After one of his workers, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), is outed as a single mother and resorts to prostitution before dying, Valjean takes custody of her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried as an adult) from the scheming Thénardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter).

Some years later, Valjean and Cosette have moved to Paris, where sparks fly between her and young bachelor Marius (Eddie Redmayne). Marius is also a member of a revolutionary group led by Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), and is oblivious to the feelings of the now-impoverished Thénardier daughter Eponine (Samantha Barks). Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), the officer who granted Valjean's parole, tries to maintain order as revolution brews in Paris, while Valjean risks his identity being discovered by Javert, who does not believe he has truly reformed.


It was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Tom Hooper. A sung-through musical, the film is notable for Hooper's decision to have the vocals recorded live on set, as opposed to having the actors lip-synch to pre-recorded tracks, to create more natural performances.

In addition to tropes inherited from both the novel and the stage adaptation of this story, this film provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: The "On My Own" trailer introduced Samantha Barks (Eponine) to international audiences.
  • Accent Adaptation: As is standard for the musical, British Accents are substituted for their French equivalents, resulting in a Paris full of Cockney prostitutes and street urchins.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Thénardier always gets Cosette's name wrong, especially when he's proclaiming how much he cares for her. At one point he even calls her "Courgette" which is the French (and British English) word for zucchini.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Helena Bonham Carter is this yet again, along with Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers. In the novel, Mme. Thénardier is a massive, muscular woman with highly masculine features, and is frequently compared to an ogress. M. Thénardier is described as a sickly-looking "runt" who is not at all good looking. Performances of the musical tend to cast actors whose physical appearance along with make-up more or less fit those descriptions. However, Bonham-Carter in the role is made-up to look blowsy looking but otherwise has no change in her appearance, and Cohen, while showing a bit of Thénardier's creepy vibe, is probably the best looking and most stylishly dressed incarnation of the character.
    • In the book and to a lesser extent in adaptations, Valjean looks like an old man by time he rescues Cosette (and in the book has stark white hair after being Locked into Strangeness). In the film, he's Hugh Jackman.
    • The younger actors fall into this too. Eponine in the book is scrawny, dirty, and not attractive at all, but in the film she is portrayed by the lovely Samantha Barks. Same goes for several of the barricade boys, who are invariably attractive onscreen.
    • Grantaire in particular is said to be ugly. His actor, George Blagden, is the opposite.
  • Adaptational Context Change: The film swaps the order of a few songs around from the musical:
    • Fantine sings "I Dreamed A Dream" after she's fired from the factory in the stage version. In the film "Lovely Ladies" happens first and Fantine sings it when she's in despair after becoming a prostitute.
    • "The Runaway Cart" takes place after Valjean saves Fantine from arrest onstage, but in the film it takes place just after Fantine loses her job. (In the novel, it happens several years before either of those events, making both the stage and the screen versions examples of this trope to begin with.) Both versions of the scene eventually lead to the reveal that a lookalike has been wrongly arrested in Valjean's place. In the stage version, Javert simply mentions that he's only known one other man as strong as "the mayor," an ex-convict who happens to have just been recaptured; in the film, as in the novel, the earlier cart-lifting incident makes Javert start to suspect that "the mayor" is Valjean, eventually leading to his reporting him, only to learn that "Valjean" has already been caught.
    • Javert's solo "Stars" was originally placed in the middle of Act I, before the time skip from 1823 to 1832, and centered on Javert vowing to find Valjean despite having lost track of him. But early in the London production's run it was moved to a later point, after the time skip; the new context was Javert vowing to find Valjean after regaining track of him for the first time in nine years. The film puts it back in its original placement and context.
    • Éponine sings "On My Own" in Act II of the stage version, after the rise of the barricades and just before she decides to rejoin the battle despite Marius having sent her away. In the film she sings it after the "Rue Plumet" sequence, before the stage version's Act I finale "One Day More," and before she sets off to the barricade for the first (and in the film, only) time. This makes more sense in a way, as the film has her sing the song before its inclusion in part of "One Day More", whereas the stage show features it before, making it the only leitmotif from the show in the song we are not already familiar with.
    • "Do You Hear The People Sing" happens much later in the film than it does in the stage version. Onstage it's sung as the students whip up support for the pending revolution; in the film it's sung at the actual beginning of the revolution, as the barricade is built.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Inevitable, given the source material, as well as the length of the stage adaptation. For example, the Amis, who all have unique personality traits in the book, are barely named in the stage version, and so the group as a whole almost goes unnamed over the length of the film, save for Enjolras. Two of the other boys are mentioned by name, but they're hard to hear in the chaos of the film and watchers unfamiliar with the musical or the book wouldn't know they were names - it's a wonder they bothered including the characters' names in the credits, especially considering that at least 2/3 of the other men at the barricade didn't have named parts (or even lines) at all.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The film manages to adapt a few elements from the novel that were cut from the stage musical including Valjean and Cosette escaping from Javert and living in a convent where the man Valjean rescued from the runaway cart works as a gardener, Marius' grandfather and his disapproval of his grandson's politics, and Marius driving away the army from the barricade by threatening to blow it up with gunpowder.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Fantine is a blonde and Cosette is a brunette in the book, and in most versions of the stage production. In this film, the hair color roles are reversed. The switch of Cosette's and Fantine's hair colors may likely have been done with the purpose of making it easier to tell Cosette apart from Eponine, who in turn is auburn-haired in the book but is brunette here.
    • Dark-haired Marius is a redhead in the film.
    • Madame Thénardier is traditionally portrayed as a redhead; here, her hair is blonde (at least until she ages, then her hair becomes a light gray).
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • A minor case with Grantaire, who appears not to have gotten dead drunk and slept through most of the uprising.
    • Even Thénardier has a very brief moment when he willingly points Valjean towards the sewer's exit. Of course, he eventually reverts back to his scoundrelly self in his next scene.
    • Of course with Javert it varies depending on the production. But here he's portrayed as much less malevolent than he usually is. He's shown to genuinely believe that what he does is for the people's own good - and is truly sorry when he thinks he's mistaken Valjean for a former convict. This is a case of Truer to the Text, as in the equivalent chapter of the book Javert urges Valjean to dismiss him for his seeming false accusation.
    • Eponine is not shown bullying Cosette as a child with her parents (which she does in the novel). She's much less bitter over the Marius and Cosette situation, coming across as merely broken-hearted that Marius does not love her back. The part where she hides the letter comes across as more of a heat of the moment act of despair - rather than the deliberate attempt to sabotage the relationship in the novel. Another part is where she screams to alert Valjean and Cosette that her parents are outside the house - where in the novel she only threatened to do so.
    • The Army Officer is clearly Just Following Orders and does not enjoy seeing Gavroche get killed by his men. He's obviously pitying their certain death and all but begs them to surrender. See Backstory Horror to see how this applies to his final confrontation with Enjolras.
    • Valjean's last lines from "The Confrontation" are removed, specifically the line "If I have to kill you here I'll do what must be done!" which really comes across as Not Helping Your Case in the play. (It also helps to emphasise Javert's "Not So Different" Remark.)
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: The Thénardiers, as seen in "Master of the House" and "Beggars at the Feast".
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Don't act like you didn't feel at least a bit sorry for Javert.
  • Antagonist in Mourning:
    • After the battle of the barricade, Javert pins his own medal to Gavroche's body.
    • The rebels, including Gavroche, also look grim when they think Javert has been executed.
    • Tom Hooper's added backstory has Army Officer fall into this. Hooper had Tveit (Enjolras) and Fraser (the Army Officer/Loudhailer) act as if they both grew up together. A Freeze-Frame Bonus zoom on the Army Officer's face has him looking relatively distressed as he takes his shot at Enjolras and Grantaire. He doesn't look exactly happy after Gavroche's death, either.
    • Averted with the Thénardiers. We never see their reaction to Eponine's death, even though loving their daughter is their one redeeming quality.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Marius flinches when Enjolras asks "Is this simply a game for a rich young boy to play?"
  • Backstory Horror:
    • When Eponine dies, the camera deliberately pans to show Gavroche, tears running down his face. This has extra resonance for those who have read the book, which explains that Eponine is his sister.
    • Javert mentions he was born in jail. In the novel it's revealed that his mother was a fortune teller who lived in jail while her husband was serving his time, and that the boy spent several years being raised in what was basically a hellhole. Explains a lot of his adult personality.
    • Tom Hooper had Aaron Tveit (Enjolras) and Hadley Fraser (the Army Officer) act as if the Army Officer/Loudhailer and Enjolras grew up together as childhood friends. A Freeze-Frame Bonus zoom on the Army Officer's face shows him more distressed than determined when he takes his shot at Enjolras and Grantaire. It may also explain why the Army Officer is more sorrowful sounding than authoritative when he addresses Enjolras, as most versions of the character would be.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Valjean and young Cosette, amped up from the stage version by reincorporating the sequence from the novel where they flee Javert through the dark streets of Paris.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Cosette as a child, and Eponine as an adult.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: At least if you're a person of romantic interest, the trope is played with: Fantine gets to be properly tarnished during her fall from grace, but Eponine is remarkably clean and well-nourished for someone living the life she has, and Little Cosette remains quite rosy-cheeked.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Courfeyrac towards Gavroche. When he sees Gavroche trying to collect ammo, he desperately tries to climb over the barricade to bring him back and is devastated when the army kills him.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
    • The characters involved in the Love Triangle: Marius (redhead), Cosette (blonde) and Eponine (brunette).
    • The three most notable members of Les Amis: Marius (redhead), Enjolras (blond) and Grantaire (brunette).
  • Brick Joke: The unnamed Father Christmas guy in "Master of the House".
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Of a rare My God, What Have I Done? variety, as Jean Valjean discover himself to be the person who caused Fantine's misfortune without even noticing.
  • Call-Back: As Valjean sits alone in the convent in the final scene, he sings that he 'dreamed a dream' Cosette stood by, and that he is all alone 'at the end of the day' - a callback to two of Fantine's songs. Not long after, Fantine appears to guide him to the afterlife.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: After Les Amis (who are all attractive young men) are introduced.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Fauchelevant, the man Valjean saves from being crushed in "Runaway Cart", has this role restored to him among the bits from the novel added back in.
  • Close on Title: The film has no opening credits, causing the title card to show up during the end credits instead.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Compared to the original novel, yes. But the film is actually decompressed somewhat from the stage version, with several plot points and at least one character (Marius' grandfather) restored.
  • Covered in Gunge: Almost everyone in the film to some extent except for adult Cosette; especially Valjean and Marius after their escape through the sewers.
  • Creator Cameo: Cameron Mackintosh and Claude-Michel Schönberg are both singing in the ending barricade. They're both in costume so it's hard to recognize them.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the musical is widely acknowledged for being unusually grim and pessimistic by the genre's standards, the movie goes even further by averting Bloodless Carnage, adopting the Dung Ages approach for the depicting the historical era, and generally eschewing the highly stylized sets of the musical in favour of gritty naturalism.
  • Dark Reprise: "Suddenly" is Valjean singing how adopting Cosette will change his life for the better. It's reprise is about how heartbroken she is that he's decided to leave so his past will not tarnish her reputation.
  • Dead Star Walking: Much of the advertisements focused around Ann Hathaway as Fantine, with her main solo being the main theme for most ads. She is the first character to die in the story, years chronologically before the failed revolution happens.
  • Dies Wide Open: Fantine and Gavroche.
  • Distant Finale: The ending was supposed to take place in 1848, when Louis Phillipe was ousted. This was cut because that revolution was led by Napoleon III, who was an archenemy of Victor Hugo.
  • Dramatic Irony: Valjean refuses Javert's sword as a sign off his resignation for falsely accusing him off being a convict. Javert ends up almost killing Valjean with that sword during "The Confrontation".
  • Due to the Dead: No one shoots at Courfeyrac when he comes out to collect Gavroche's body.
  • The Dung Ages: The movie pulls no punches in depicting the squalor of early 1800s Paris. There is grime, dirt, and sludge everywhere and, at one on point or another, on everyone.
  • Dutch Angle: Used often to the Thénardiers in order to make them seem more unpleasant. It's also used at the beginning of Marius's meeting with Valjean, to reflect his excitement about being married to his daughter.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Valjean got his teeth fixed after getting rich. Eponine is the worst offender. She has to be the cleanest street urchin ever.
  • The Everyman:
    • Valjean, who carries this status over from the book and musical.
    • It's worth noting that though he isn't named in the film, Combeferre (blond in the blue vest and red tie played by Killian Donnelly) is the most active of the revolutionaries in film and manages to represent the average man in every sense of the word in his actions on the day the barricades rose: He's enraged at the death of an innocent woman and drags out the man responsible before shooting him; he is angry with Marius when he threatens to blow the barricade to ward off the soldiers; he tries to call Gavroche back to the other side of the barricade and holds back Courfeyrac when the latter attempts to save Gavroche; and still tries to find refuge for his friends and shield them even when the situation is hopeless.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Zig-zagged. When cornered, Enjolras and Grantaire stare down the soldiers and defiantly raise the red flag. The other boys are shown variously to be desperate or scared, with some audibly whimpering or even crying.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Not only does Javert jump into the river, he lands on a ledge with such a loud CRACK! there's zero chance he survived.
  • Foreshadowing: "Stars" is staged with Javert standing on top of a building looking up at the stars and down on the city; the staging is echoed, in some places shot-for-shot, for "Javert's Suicide", making the latter a visual Dark Reprise. Furthermore, both times he teeters on the edge, walking the fine line between safety and doom. In several shots, there is a not at all subtle eagle sculpture behind him, giving him an angelic wing on one side, and the night's sky representing darkness and doom on the other.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: In Gavroche's reprise of "Look Down", he is addressing other characters, rather than the audience as he did in the stage show. As a result, when he says the line, "How do you do? My name's Gavroche" the line is addressed to a rich man whose carriage he's just invaded, who looks like he'd just as soon have foregone the acquaintance. At one point he appears to be directly speaking to the camera, but the next change of camera angle shows that he's actually speaking to a group of his fellow urchins.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In "Attack at the Rue Plumet", one of Mr. Thénardier's henchmen is trying and failing to climb a wall after Eponine scares them away.
    • In "One Day More," when Marius comes to the cafe and declares he's going to fight, Gavroche is behind him with a fist pump and an audible "Yeah!" Two guys behind the bar also raise their cups to him.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Fantine, after hearing that Valjean will take care of her daughter, dies smiling.
  • Hidden Buxom: Eponine wraps herself up to look like a boy in "One Day More".
  • High-Dive Escape: Valjean escapes from Javert at the hospital by leaping from a window into the river.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A subtle one for Javert: When the students are building the barricades, Javert is seen hiding something behind a cabinet at the Corinthe tavern. When Gavroche rats him out, he runs to get it, revealing it to be a baton that he intends to defend himself with—which the students then wrestle out of his hands and use to knock him out.
  • Hollywood Old: Valjean, Javert, and the adult Thénardiers don't change much during the years that Cosette and Eponine grow from Isabelle Allen and Natalya Angel Wallace into Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks respectively, except that some of their hair greys up a little bit.
  • I Love the Dead: Considering her life as a sex worker to be A Fate Worse Than Death and metaphorically death itself, Fantine accuses her clients of this in her Despair Song: "Just as well they never see the hate that's in your head! Don't they know they're making love to one already dead?"
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Fantine starts getting one during "I Dreamed a Dream", which worsens thereafter. At "Fantine's Death", you can see bloodstains on her bedclothes suggesting she's progressed to coughing up blood.
  • Inelegant Blubbering:
    • Hugh Jackman's rendition of "Valjean's Soliloquy" has him sobbing and slurring over some of the words.
    • The style in which Anne Hathaway sings "I Dreamed a Dream", complete with dripping snot. Emphasized by the entire song being The Oner with a closeup on her face. Hathaway stated in an interview that unlike in the musical, the film’s actors weren’t all cast to be able to wow the audience with their stellar voice alone, so she imbued her performance with as much raw emotion as possible. It earned her an Oscar, so it had been a good idea.
    • Eddie Redmayne sobs all over his "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables".
  • Ironic Echo: Valjean says of Cosette in Suddenly, "Yesterday I was alone/Now you are beside me". As he dies later, he says "Now you are here again beside me".
  • Karma Houdini: The Thénardiers get roughly carried out of Marius and Cosette's wedding (after Marius has punched Monsieur Thénardier in the face), but otherwise they apparently suffer no punishment for their misbehaviors.
  • Kick the Dog: In "Master of the House", the Thénardiers are seen replacing an outgoing guest's luggage with a baby carrier (complete with baby) and Monsieur Thénardier casually chops off a cat's tail to fill up the sausages with this and that. Word of God says that the baby is an infant Gavroche, given that Gavroche is supposed to be ten when the main action happens, which is nine years after "Master of the House"'s events happen. We also see Thenardier walk up to a man playing Santa, who has a young boy in his lap. Thenardier drags the man into the inn while knocking the boy into the snow (we even hear the kid crying). And given details mentioned in other trope entries.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • Eponine dies as she was about to finish singing "rain makes the flowers grow".
    • Gavroche, during his song, "Little People".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: If the beginning of the film is matched to the theater version, from Valjean's release to the gift of the silver is the "Prologue." Then, Valjean sings "a new story begins," just as the film proper starts.
  • Little "No": Type I from Javert, when Valjean tells him his parole means he's now free. This carries over from the stage show.
  • Love Redeems: Be it friendship, familial or romantic, this is an overarching common theme in the growth of several characters.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Lovely Ladies", an upbeat number about the demoralizing life of being degraded to a prostitute.
    • "At the End of the Day" has parts in F-minor and F-major where the factory workers sing about how the lives of the poor people just keep getting worse and worse.
  • Manly Tears:
    • When Eponine dies, Marius cries and Gavroche is silently weeping. Enjolras is also visibly stricken, although what appears to be a Single Tear is actually just rain dripping from his hair.
    • Courfeyrac sobs after Gavroche dies.
    • During "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," Marius sheds one Single Tear.
    • Valjean during his soliloquy and his death.
  • Meaningful Background Event: After Enjolras gives Javert to Valjean, Combeferre can be seen in the background saying, "No. No, Enjolras" - and being ignored.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • In a way, "Valjean's soliloquy" and "Javert's Suicide". Valjean and Javert sing the same lines at the end of each song, but one ends with Valjean starting over clean and one ends in Javert's suicide.
    • When the Bishop hands the candlesticks to Valjean, after he had discovered Valjean had stolen all of his silverware; it's a Freeze-Frame Bonus moment, but at the beginning of "Who Am I?", they can be seen on his table. When Valjean leaves Cosette and Marius to retire to the monastery to die, the candlesticks are right beside him once again.
  • Meet the New Boss: Gavroche takes this view regarding Louis Philippe I's July Monarchy in "Look Down (The Beggars)".
    There was a time we killed the King
    We tried to change the world too fast
    Now we have got another King
    He's no better than the last
  • Movie Bonus Song:
    • "Suddenly" is a new song created for this production, in which Valjean sings about how his life has been opened up by Cosette. It was written by the same songwriters as the other songs in the musical, making it blend in better.
    • There are also several dialogue songs such as "Javert's Introduction" written to convey extra information whilst keeping the film as completely sung-through.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jean Valjean does this twice. First when he is saved by the Bishop he robbed, and later when he finds out that he ruined Fantine's life without even noticing.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The "Work Song" features the convicts pulling a ship into a drydock, which may be a reference to some earlier adaptations (including at least one production of the musical) which erroneously depicted the convicts as actual galley-slaves (the term, galériens in the original, persisted as a designation for convicts long after actual slave galleys were used, and thus prison was figuratively called "the galleys").
    • As Young Cosette sweeps and sings "Castle on a Cloud", if you freeze at the right moment, there's a momentary live-action reproduction of the famous engraving of Cosette sweeping that became the musical's emblem.
    • At the end of "The Confrontation", Valjean escapes Javert by jumping off a window into a body of water. At that point in the original novel, Valjean was recaptured and brought back to the galleys, but escaped by pretending to drown.
    • The elephant statue from the Brick makes a cameo in the film.
    • Valjean and Cosette being chased through the streets of Paris by Javert before climbing over a wall to escape and take refuge in a convent is straight out of the book.
    • Valjean being greeted by the Bishop as he walks into heaven. In the book, when he tells Cosette that he already has a priest and points upward, the narration implies that the Bishop is indeed bearing witness to his impending death.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The international trailer seems to show Valjean is an active member of Les Amis, and the movie's climax is a final showdown between him and Javert.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Thénardiers' appearance at Marius and Cosette's wedding results in them being able to find Valjean so they can thank him for changing their lives and allowing him to be at peace moments before he dies.
  • Object Tracking Shot: After Valjean tears up his parole record and tosses it away, the camera follows a piece that floats up to the sky then swiftly falls as the film does the first Time Skip to "At The End of the Day". May be a possible Call-Back to an older adaptation that used a similar shot.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Javert. Constantly. To the point of being somewhat memetic.
  • Oh, Crap!: When told by Enjolras that they are the last barricade standing and that the people have not arisen like they thought, the remaining students stare blankly at each other, thinking "What am I dying for?"
  • The Oner: The film sometimes pushes its (primarily film rather than stage) actors really hard in this regard. The most magnificent example of this is probably Anne Hathaway's spectacular rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream", which is done in one take and goes through Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, nostalgia, regret, sobbing, rage, and panicked gasping all while keeping the camera focused firmly on her face.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • The accent that Sacha Baron Cohen uses as Monsieur Thénardier varies from kind of lower-class British to slightly over-the-top French when he's trying to impress someone. May be appear odd and somewhat jarring due to the fact that he's the only one to use a French accent and play with the Translation Convention.
    • Valjean in early scenes (especially What Have I Done?) sounds suspiciously Irish.
    • Despite the fact that the lead roles went mostly to Americans and Australians, it's surprising that so many people's solos have various shades of English accents throughout the movie.
    • Irish. Fra Fee (Courfeyrac) can't seem to keep his Irish accent from making frequent appearances. For example, the slip that occurs at around 0:35 of this scene.
  • Opening Scroll: Opens with one, clarifying that this film is not about THE French Revolution, but a later rebellion, the Paris Uprising of 1832.
  • Pet the Dog: See Worthy Opponent.
    • Also, once the fighting begins between the Army soldiers and the French citizens, a disguised Javert helps a fallen Courfeyrac to his feet amidst the chaos.
  • Piano Drop: During the barricade construction scene, someone throws a piano out of a top floor window to add to the structure.
  • The Plague: "Plague" was substituted for "The winter's coming on fast, ready to kill" on "At The End Of The Day". Considering the squalid conditions, an outbreak isn't so farfetched.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "The Confrontation"
    Valjean: "All I did was STEAL! SOME! BREAD!"
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Javert is horrified by the army's victory against the students.
  • The Queen's Latin: The cast is primarily composed of American and Australian actors. Not only do most of them speak The Queen's French, but many of the lower-class characters speak Cockney French.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The revolutionaries lose the fight against the corrupt government, but Marius survives and gets married to his beloved Cosette, Valjean dies in peace, and the epilogue suggests the revolution will fight another day in liberating France.
  • Real After All: The majority of characters in the stage musical are pessimistic about the existence of the afterlife and God. The movie's ending refutes this.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Valjean's religious outlook on life is restored to how it is in the book (some productions of the musical may downplay it). The more classical kind of this goes, as usual, to Javert, a change inherited from the musical (in the book, religion never enters Javert's thoughts until Valjean shows him mercy, but let's face it, it would have looked pretty silly for Javert to pray to a Lawbook).
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Enjolras took away a musket from the hands of a reckless student in "ABC Cafe".
  • Remake Cameo:
    • Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, as the Bishop of Digne.
    • Frances Ruffelle, the original Eponine, has a cameo as one of the whores in "Lovely Ladies". Apparently, her character was dubbed "Most Fabulous Whore".
    • Hadley Fraser, who has played Marius, Javert and (most famously) Grantaire, is the officer leading the attack against Les Amis ABC.
    • Katie Hall and Gina Beck are some of the women on "Turning".
    • Katy Secombe, who played Mme. Thénardier in the 2011 London production, appears as a woman aiding the Friends of the ABC (she's the lady whose red flag was taken by Marius during "One Day More").
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: Unlike in the source materials where they are Absurdly Spacious Sewers, the sewers in this adaption are this. Valjean has to force himself and Marius through a tiny tunnel, and the parts where the ceiling is high enough to stand are so filled with gunk that it's easier to drown.
  • The Rival: Inspector Javert makes it his life mission to capture Valjean after he breaks his parole. Averted by Eponine and Cosette, as Eponine as a child isn't shown (at least onscreen) to be as nasty to Cosette as her parents are, and as adults, despite the love triangle between them and Marius, the two never actually meet.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Javert's habit, if you can call it that, of walking on high ledges. Weird? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Demonstrative of his belief that he is morally superior (and therefore higher), that God will not let him fall as he literally walks the straight and narrow path, and foreshadowing for his eventual death? Oh hell yes.
    • The eagle and night sky behind Javert forming an angelic wing and void.
    • The barricade erected by the doomed revolutionaries has coffins mounted on the front of it. It has a big red coffin and a small blue one. What were Enjolras and Gavroche wearing?
    • As Valjean prays to God in "Bring Him Home", a giant eye "Looks Down" on him from a billboard in the background.
    • In "A Little Fall of Rain", Eponine and Marius lean on a French flag, with the words "La Mort" clearly visible. And what does it mean? Death. Makes one wonder what's going to happen to her and the barricade boys.
    • Colm Wilkinson, who played the original Jean Valjean in the stage version, appears as the Bishop of Digne. When he gives Hugh Jackman's Valjean the silver candlesticks in the movie, he is Passing the Torch of Jean Valjean. Plus a number of actors that make up the barricade boys also played Marius or Enjolras in the stage versions.
    • "Don't they know they're making love to one already dead?" sings Fantine at the end of "Lovely Ladies", and for "I Dreamed A Dream," she spends the next few minutes in a box resembling a coffin, complete with pillowsnote .
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: As the revolt starts going badly for the students, many try to escape the barricade into the near-by houses. The occupants lock them out instead.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Marius asks Eponine to tail Cosette for him, they spar lines set to the melody of "I Was Made For Loving You" by Kiss.
    • The hymn sung on the barricade has chords and a melody that suspiciously sound at times like the "Chant des Partisans", the hymn of the French Resistance during World War II.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • During Javert's roof walking sequence in "Stars", there is a shot of Notre-Dame without her spire. It's accurate, since the original one was demolished during the 18th century prior to this time period, and the building of the one that lasted until the 2019 fire did not begin before 1845. Also accurate? The depiction of the area of Saint-Michel as one huge dirty hovel.
    • The uniforms Javert and the constables wear also count: the 1823 version sports the fleur-de-lis, the traditional symbol of the French monarchy. On the 1832 version, it has disappeared, since the July Monarchy had dropped its use in 1831.
    • Avoided entirely in the opening scene however, which uses the wrong version of the French flag (the tricolor was the Revolutionary flag, replaced by the crown and three fleurs-de-lis of the Bourbon royal family after Napoleon's defeat in 1815).
  • Sickening "Crunch!": In "Javert's Suicide"
  • Signature Style: The film, like The King's Speech, is filled with distinctive walls with distressed layers of paint, eye-catching bricks, or battle damage, along with an unsteady and claustrophobic camera.
  • Slasher Smile: The john who tries to rape Fantine.
  • Small Start, Big Finish: The film's version of "I Dreamed A Dream", moreso compared to the stage version as it begins with Fantine laying in a bed almost murmuring as she laments the state of her life. The accompaniment swells in the last verse and her singing incorporates more belts.
  • Stealth Pun: After the final battle at the barricade, when Valjean flees with Marius into the sewers to avoid capture, there is a shot of Javert searching for him with that Determinator face he has. Cut to Valjean in the sewers, and the background music is now the melody of the Work Song from the beginning, when it was accompanied by the lyrics "look down, look down".
  • Take a Third Option: Javert's solution of whether To Be Lawful or Good — morally, he can't continue to harass a man who saved his life, but legally he can't let a convict go free — is to kill himself.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Valjean is not shown being flogged during his time as a convict, but in the "Work Song", he's got injuries suggesting that it's happened to him.
  • That Poor Cat: In "Master of the House," we see Thenardier chopping off a cat's tail and placing it in a mincer to pretend it's beef.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare:
    • Marius sports this briefly after the events at the barricade. It takes a love song from Cosette to pull him out.
    • And another one, though brief, is at the end where the dead people start singing "Do You Hear the People Sing? (Reprise)". As Marius is hugging Cosette, his gaze briefly, but perceptibly, shifts into this - Word of God has stated this is because Marius can actually hear them singing. Cosette's gaze also shifts in much the same way, implying that she can hear them too.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Isabelle Allen as young Cosette and Natalya Wallace as young Eponine.
  • We Have Reserves: The soldiers who crushed the revolt. There's so many of them that their dead weren't even properly gathered, in contrast with the students who laid side by side.
  • Wham Line: You just know the ABCs are definitely doomed.
    "We're the only barricade left."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • How Fantine responds to Valjean's intervention in her arrest - he might not recognize her, but she clearly recognizes him as the factory owner whose refusal to intervene months ago led to her being fired and eventually forced into prostitution in the first place.
    Fantine: You let your foreman send me away - yes, you were there and turned aside!
    • Not all of the students are happy about Marius' gunpowder stunt. Combeferre (the blond in the blue vest and red tie), in particular, practically shouts at Marius' face, "What were you thinking, Marius?! You could have gotten us all killed! My life is not yours to risk, Marius!"
  • Where It All Began: Valjean dies in the convent where his life began anew. He even brought back the candlesticks the Bishop gave him.
  • Worthy Opponent: Between Javert and Gavroche. When Valjean asks to kill Javert, Gavroche lets him have a pistol but looks upset, and also looks grim when he hears the gunshot a moment later. Javert is also aghast when he discovers Gavroche's body, and pins a medal on him in respect of his bravery.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Gavroche, even more so than in the stage adaptation, with a long, extended scene of him defying a soldier's orders and getting shot at while singing "Little People", until the soldier eventually hits him square for the kill, with no Gory Discretion Shots to hide the fact that a soldier just killed a child.
  • You Are Number 6: Javert insisting on calling Jean "24601" even after Jean has been paroled.
  • You Have No Chance: Said word for word by the Loudhailer to Les Amis.


Video Example(s):


The Confrontation

During this song, Javert confronts Jean Valjean and seeks to arrest him. However, Jean had just promised to a now deceased Fantine to go and raise her daughter as his own. In the 2012 movie (as well as some musicals), this song doubles as an actual fight between the two.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / QuarrelingSong

Media sources: