Thus was the new song commissioned from the original composers: in order to best serve the original intent of the novel. Such a perspective can be seen in many of the film’s small additions or departures from the source show. This respect and love for source material is what’s missing in so many half-hearted adaptations, and thankfully Les Misérables does not disappoint in such a fashion.

5. It’s Not About Politics

barricade

Those unfamiliar with the show may have heard bits and pieces of the film’s political backdrop and may be nervous, burnt-out from this year’s intense election season. However, don’t let that keep you from the theaters. It’s just that: a backdrop.

The film’s climax is set in the midst of an attempted revolution, an effort from incensed students protesting against an oppressive government. While critique of the government is certainly present in the film, it is no more present than critique of the church, the upper classes, or the general hardness of the human heart.

The film doesn’t discriminate against any one group of people; no finger is pointed at one demographic. One political figure is discussed by the characters as being “the friend of the people,” while others are seen as enemies. The religious Javert is castigated as a hardened antagonist, but is balanced by the gentle, gracious Bishop. Even though the plight of the poor is championed by the film, the wealthy are not despised for their wealth. Valjean, Cosette, and Marius are wealthy characters for most of the film and are only ever portrayed as heroic; conversely the poor innkeepers Monsieur and Madame Thénardier are shown to be greedy, crude villains.

Les Misérables is a story about grace, love, and the condition of the heart. Though the battle of the Barricade and the fiery spirits of the rebellious students are central to the plot, even these stories serve as vehicles for exploring different relationships and the depths of the human spirit.

Now that you’re equipped with these handy tips, you’re ready to head to the theater!

Oh…one last tip. Bring tissues. Seriously.

Debbie Wright is Assistant Editor for Family Content at Crosswalk. She lives in Glen Allen, Virginia and is an avid writer, reader, and participant in local community theatre.

Publication date: December 14, 2012