The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Les Misérables

Les Misérables, directed by Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), is a romantic drama based on the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. In this musical version, all of the characters sing their lines. Part of the story's popularity (there have been more than 60 film adaptations) is that it evokes and touches our universal yearnings for justice, love, freedom, redemption and forgiveness.

anne hathaway
Anne Hathaway stars in Les Misérables as Fantine.

Whereas revenge remains a widespread theme in contemporary movies, some bold dramas, like this one, have the characters returning love instead of hate to those who are perceived as enemies. Released from prison, Jean Valjean finds shelter in a bishop's home. When he steals the church's candlesticks, the bishop refuses to press charges. Valjean is astonished and humbled by this act of kindness and mercy. Forgiveness is an invitation to start over again.

Valjean makes wise use of the freedom given to him. He becomes a successful businessman and mayor of his community. He extends kindness to a dying prostitute, agreeing to raise her daughter. Late in life he grants forgiveness to the policeman who has persecuted him for most of his life. Tears will flow during these powerful scenes (Universal Pictures, PG-13 — suggestive sexual material, violence, thematic elements).


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February issue


Embracing diversity