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Victor Hugo's landmark epic 1862 novel Les Misérables may not actually hold the record for most adaptations (ask Dracula and Sherlock Holmes about this), but the list is still very impressive. There are over 65 adaptations (although that's sometimes stretching the word a bit in some cases). A handful of these are easily available; die-hard fans have managed to see more than twenty.

Check Wikipedia for a list. Adaptations are in this article mainly referred to by production year. See also the dedicated wiki.

Note that there are two films titled Les Misérables (1995 and 2019) that are not adaptations, although both are consciously named for the novel (that being said, the 1995 one takes heavy inspiration from it).

Some adaptations:

Adaptations without their own trope pages provide examples of:

  • Some movies have Fantine look incredibly pretty (and above all healthy), when she's supposed to be dying of TB.
  • Sometimes Valjean — the 1978 version (starring Richard Jordan as Valjean) was released on video a blurb beginning: "Jean Valjean, a handsome young woodcutter..."
  • Always with Eponine, at least in adaptations that include her (such as the stage musical). In the book, she's described as having lost any beauty she may have had, but you'd be hard pressed to find an actress playing her who isn't drop-dead gorgeous, even when covered in dirt.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Both Javert's suspicion that Madeleine might be Valjean and the reasons for Champmathieu being mistaken for Valjean, while lengthily explained in the novel, are often condensed to "He looks like Valjean".
  • Adaptational Heroism: Éponine. Her cruelty towards Cosette when she is exploited into being her family's slave tends to be downplayed in film adaptions (and omitted entirely in the 2012 film), and it is implied she actually wanted Marius to die at the barricades in the book.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In a plot stretched over nearly twenty years, probably the most frequent one is characters failing to get older:
    • Cosette in the '52 adaptation stays the same age from when Valjean fetches her to adulthood.
    • Cosette in the '82/'85 adaptation stays the same age from when Fantine leaves her to when Valjean fetches her.
    • Gavroche in the 2000 miniseries starts off older than Cosette, but is still the same age nine years later.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Javert in the novel may be Valjean's antagonist for most of the time, but some adaptations portray him as outright evil, sometimes even brutal ('52, '98...). This is often due to the removal of the Thénardier couple, who would otherwise serve as primary antagonists.
  • Animated Adaptation: Several, including at least four anime adaptations. The three Soviet cartoons that focus on the children are also worth a mention; two are called "Gavroche" and are only propaganda.
  • Bookends: The 1982/85 adaptation starts with Javert telling Valjean he's free. The end is a fantasy/dream sequence, where Javert tells an aged Valjean that NOW he is free.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Is there any other kind when it comes to Les Misérables? Now, Compressed Is Not Bad, but still. Fourteen hundred pages.
    • Averted with the 1964 Italian miniseries, which is eleven hours long and has managed to put in most of Hugo's long narrative passages, such as some information on the underworld or the battle of Waterloo.
  • Death by Adaptation: Rare, since nearly everyone dies anyway, but the '47 adaptation in addition kills off notorious Karma Houdini Thénardier by letting him fall through a skylight.
  • Divided for Adaptation: The 1934 film adaptation, rather than try to compress the novel, spread it over three films, running a total of four-and-a-half hours, which were released in three subsequent weeks.
  • Determinator: Javert. Taken almost to Implacable Man levels in some versions.
  • Downer Ending: Especially in the 1985 movie, where Cosette and Marius only arrive after Valjean has died alone and unloved.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Jean Valjean repeatedly detours from his flight from Javert in order to help those in need, which on multiple occasions nearly gets him captured by the inspector.
  • Epic Movie: The 1934 version by Raymond Bernard, which is one of the most accurate adaptations of the book and clocks in at 5 hours.
  • The Game of the Book:
    • Actually called "Les misérables: The game of the book", it's a point-and-click adventure with very simple graphics in which you have to make the story happen.
    • Arm Joe, a Street Fighter esque fighting game that utilizes the characters from Les Mis.
    • Les Miserables: Eve of Revolution, a card game based solely on the book.
  • Institutional Apparel: Depending on the version:
    • Historically correct (yellow trousers, white shirt, red vest, and jacket and green caps for lifers or red caps for non-lifers): 1925, 1933, 1934, 1958, 1992, 2000.
    • Partially correct: 1978.
    • Just any kind of prison uniform: 1947, 1955, 1964, 1972.
  • Hollywood Old: Valjean is supposed to be over sixty at the end? Incredible in the cases of Fredric March, Michael Rennie, Richard Jordan, and downright ridiculous with Hugh Jackman!
  • Lawful Stupid: Javert has tendencies towards this in the book, but in some adaptations (notably in '52) he as good as flat out refuses to take any responsibility for his actions, blaming each and every decision on the law.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The 1992 French cartoon. This is the adaptation where no death occurs on screen. Cosette also has a dog friend, Amiral.
    • There are several Indian adaptations ('50, '55, '72) that have this. Bollywood!Les Mis probably says it all.
  • Lost in Imitation:
    • Who still remembers that Javert did not devote his entire career to tracking down Valjean?
    • Les Misérables is not only a musical: Liam Neeson's most famous quote concerning the '98 adaptation: "One of the greatest novels in Western literature, and all everybody's asking is, 'Do you sing in it?'"
  • Named by the Adaptation: Javert is given the first name Étienne in the 1952 film.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Valjean's night at the bishop's house is this in a few adaptations, usually in the form of a traumatic flashback dream (examples in the movies from 1935, 1989, 1998...).
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Thénardier kidnaps Cosette in both the 1992 animated series and the Duck family comic book.
  • Punishment Box: The solitary confinement cell in the 1978 movie. Apparently makes you go crazy, if Valjean is any example.
  • The Remake: The '52 version openly admits to remaking the '35 version.
  • Remake Cameo: To name a few (not always cameos):
    • Dominique Zardi, in France known as the "king of supporting roles", starred in three adaptations: as Claquesous, Chenildieu and Cochepaille.
    • Lucien Nat plays Montparnasse in the '33 movie and M. Gillenormand in the '72 miniseries.
    • Henry Krauss played Valjean in the 1913 movie and came back in '33 as Myriel.
    • Émile Genevois, 1933's Gavroche, was a bus driver in the '58 version.
    • Georges Geret took over for Marcel Bozzufi as Javert for the third part of the '61-'63 adaptation. In 1972 he was back: as Valjean.
    • Chittor V. Nagaiah played "Valjean" in two Indian adaptations, from '50 and '72, respectively.
    • Sessue Hayakawa also played Valjean twice, namely in '50 and '64.
    • Joke or mistake example: Gino Cervi played Valjean in the Italian movie of 1947. Several webpages (imdb, most notably) credit him for an unnamed part in the '64 series, but so far it seems no-one has spotted him.
    • Colm Wilkinson, who originated the musical's Jean Valjean on both the West End and Broadway, played Bishop Myriel in the 2012 version.
  • Rock Opera: The original French concept album was a complete show in and of itself, and is self-contained in the music.
  • Shipped in Shackles: The 1978 movie in a rare example of historical accuracy in that movie, shows a group of convicts, of which Valjean is a part, being chained together by their necks before being transported to Toulon on carts. The scene where Cosette and Valjean watch such a chain gang pass by is included in the 1933 and the 2000 movie.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Well, the main character is an (ex-)convict, and some adaptations seem to be only too glad to make clear just how bad 19th-century French prisons were. Three movies show Valjean being flogged (1935, 1947, 1950) with three more heavily inferring it (1952, Egyptian 1978, and 2012).
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Yes, original editions censored the town names Digne and Montreuil-sur-Mer. It's still easy to find out which city is meant, especially in the case of Montreuil (a road map description), and there is no need for cities like Morvein (1952 movie, no city of such name exists in France), Monteis-sur-Monteis (1978 movie; leaving aside the fact that it sounds ridiculous, “Monteis” doesn't actually mean anything in French) or Vigo (1998 movie, small town in northern Spain).
  • Wife Husbandry: In the 2000 TV miniseries, Valjean admits to Marius that he is in love with Cosette. In the '52 movie, Marius accuses Valjean of being in love with Cosette and 'wanting her for himself', to which Valjean only partially denies.
  • You Are Number 6: Valjean's prison number is mentioned by most adaptations, but few of them do more than name it. Many filmmakers seem to have a problem with the numbers that Hugo chose (24601 and later 9430), as the number often gets changed to: 2906 (1935 adaptation), 872 (1947 Italian adaptation), 1082 (1952 adaptation), 335 (1955 Indian adaptation), 1205 (1982 adaptation)...

Alternative Title(s): Les Miserables 1917, Les Miserables 2000, Les Miserables 1982