Les Miserables (1998)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: +1

One of the first feature film stories shown in America in 1909, the classic novel by Victor Hugo returns to the screen again. Paroled convict Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson) is taken in for the night by the Catholic Bishop of a small town. He returns the favor by stealing the silverware and striking his host. When caught and returned, the Bishop forgives him and even gives him more silver. But Valjean must keep a promise to change his life. In nine years, Valjean rises to be mayor in the town of Vigau, but no one knows his past. Then Inspector Javert (Geoffery Rush), a former prison guard, is assigned to Vigau. A stern man who lives by the letter of the law, Javert recognizes Valjean but is not certain until Valjean is forced to reveal himself to save another man. One of the female workers in Valjean's business, Fantine (Uma Thurman), is fired and resorts to prostitution to support her child. Although arrested by Javert, the ill Fantine is taken in by Valjean for care until she dies. Valjean promises to care for her child Cosette (Claire Danes). Admitting to his identity in a Paris court, Valjean must flee prison life, but he keeps his promise to care for Cosette. Ten years later, Javert has not given up his pursuit and the July Revolution of 1832 provides their climactic meeting. Viewers will enjoy the beautiful scenery, action and superb acting in this latest adaptation of a classic tale.

The Bishop shows true Christian principals when he forgives Valjean for his injury. In giving him more silver, the Bishop says he is buying his soul to give it back to God. Valjean, in turn, changes his life to reflect those values as he gives to improve other's lives. He separates the men and women in his factory to keep corrupting influences from them. When a man is injured by a wagon, he pays for the man's care and arranges another job for him. Even though Fantine resorted to prostitution, he recognizes that it is in desperation to support her child. He reveals his identity in court when silence would let another man take his punishment as a parole breaker. He even shows mercy to Javert when there is opportunity to kill him. Javert is so driven by revenge and upholding the law that after 20 years, still wants Valjean to pay for his crime. True to the era, foul language is limited to several crude terms. Refreshingly, there's no profanity or obscenity. A few references to prostitution are somewhat graphic. There's no nudity although one scene shows Fantine in her underwear and low cut dresses reveal a lot of cleavage. Some violence during the revolution is intense as a child is shot and cannons explode the barricades but none graphic. An excellent story on the power of forgiveness, with a few questionable elements, LES MISERABLES is recommended for older teens and adults.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (6) times - moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Several times - moderate (kicks, man hit with rifle stock, men molest woman, policeman slaps woman, blood coughed into cloth, man's head hit on wall, soldiers charge civilian crowd child shot, cannons fired at civilian barricade, man falls into river - drowning implied

Sex: None

Nudity: Near nudity few times - low cut dresses, woman in underwear

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times - references to prostitution, man refers to woman spreading legs, man implies possible sex act with child

Drugs: Wine with meals

Other: Bishop forgives injury, man changes life for good, man protects female workers from corrupt influences, man helps injured man, man tells truth in court to free man giving up position of influence, man helps feed poor, unforgiving policeman commits suicide

Running Time: 129 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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