Though not a big fan of movie musicals, I do love great stories. And Les Miserables is a great story. Victor Hugo said about his novel that it is “progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul.”
What intrigued me about the movie adaptation is wondering how people respond to the various views of God throughout the movie.
Javert is the legalist. He upholds the cause of justice. God placed him on this earth to uphold the law. That law is clear, and the emphasis for Javert is on the letter of the law, definitely not its spirit. How often do people see God as rule maker and enforcer.
Jean Val Jean is a man with a dark past but experiences a priest filled with grace, and that gift of mercy transforms his life. Val Jean remakes himself into a successful businessman. His life is one of generosity and mercy. He knows when to stand for a good cause, such as Cosette, and to risk sacrifice for a noble one, such as Cosette’s future husband. His story is moving, and yet his experience of grace seems to still be tinged with pain.
The rest of the characters from the movie seem to have an awareness of God, but either to be pleaded for in times of need or pain, but too often forgotten even by the master of the house.
In the end the path of grace and love win the day. About half way through the movie, I leaned over to my wife and whispered, “This is not a happy movie.” My youngest daughter then said, “That’s why it’s called the Miserable!”
Yet there was this thought — life can be changed. The path of Javert led to the greatest despair. The path of mercy, love and grace led to a life transformed. Can life, even a miserable life change? Yes, by the grace of God and even more exciting when that grace is at work in you and me. Sounds like the dream that God dreams!
What movies feed your understanding of who God is and the transformation He brings?