Le Mis, was a good movie. Not entirely enjoyable as a movie depicting misery and suffering is not actually the most uplifting theme but well acted, engaging and a bit surprising. (Whoda thunk that Wolverine and the Gladiator could sing?)
It took a little getting used to since everyone sang instead of speaking for the entire movie, which made it more like an opera than a play. (I was kind of expecting a musical with songs that I have heard many times before sung between dialogue. Didn’t realize it was all singing. A bit weird at first, but acceptable once understood.) However, even though I enjoyed it the first thing that caught my attention was the date the movie began- 1815.
Having heard the songs of Le Mis in the past, I assumed it was about the French Revolution. Once I noted that date however, I realized it was not actually about the French Revolution at all. Rather the story is actually about the results or consquences of the French Revolution. This, in my mind, is a significant difference than my earlier assumptions which the events depicted and the music would imply. In reality, what historians refer to as the French Revolution began in 1789 and ended with the death of King Louis XVI in 1793. However, the movie begins in 1815 which is 21 years after the French Revolution ended.
So why is this important in assessing Le Mis you may ask? Well, first of all, I don’t think from the musical themes and events of the story that most movie viewers will even notice this subtlety. After all, it is no secret that Americans in general are notoriously bad with historic facts. (Jay Leno makes this apparent with his Jay Walk segments.)
The revolutionary songs, the oppressed poor, the exploited prisoners all imply through omission that this story is about the French Revolution. It is decidedly not. If you follow along with me here, you will actually see that what Victor Hugo was actually writing about was what the French Revolution turned France into. I think this will carry over into today too BTW as we watch the results of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions. The lessons herein can be applied to our age as well.
There Were Significant Differences Between the American and French Revolutions
The French Revolution was quite different in many ways from the American Revolution (or more accurately the American War for Independence) in very definitive ways. Because of these differences, it produced significantly different results. Here are some comparisons between the two Revolutions which happened at about the same time in history:
- Legal in basis (Declaration of Independence)
- Stated and specific purposes (See the Declaration of Independence for the specific intents.)
- Based in Christian morals and protective of religion (See 1st amendment of our Bill of Rights)
- Based on natural law rights or God given rights (See Bill of Rights and natural law)
- Conducted by government based troops (Controlled violence at the time. Civilians were not collateral damage for the most part, unlike modern war.)
- Resulted in the installation of a Constitutional Republic and a long period of stability and growth for the nation.
- Conducted in the open with declared intentions and no sinister connections.
- Resulted in a free market economic system based on man as a sovereign child of God
- Created a Constitutional Republican form of government (See Article 4, Section 4 “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion;”)
- Illegal (Spontaneous and mob initiated thereby technically illegal)
- General vague purposes (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity- no specific reference)
- Anti-Christian and anti-religion (priests massacred, churches desecrated and more)
- Based on Reason (After desecration of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Feast of Reason was conducted, Mlle Maillard, a prostitute, was crowned the Goddess of Reason. At the following convention an address was presented demanding that: “Reason and Virtue, should be substituted for the worship of the “Jewish Slave” and “the adulterous woman, the courtesan of Galilee”)
- Conducted by disorganized mobs (uncontrolled violence and rampant looting of private property and a blood bath symbolized by the guillotine and much worse as you will discover later)
- Resulted in chaos, political and economic disorder, followed by 2 more revolutions and 80 years of instability. The only stable period was the 8 year period that Louis the XVIII was installed until his death.
- Conducted through clandestine movements and deception backed by the Illuminati and its offspring the Jacobin clubs (Kinda reminds me of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab Spring revolutions come to think of it.)
- Created a Democratic socialist based economic system with man seen as part of a utopian collective
The bottom line. Le Mis was NOT based in the French Revolution, but rather the results of the French Revolution decades afterwards. Le Mis is about what the French Revolution produced NOT the revolution itself!
The movie itself portrays those results quite effectively. The viewer will notice that much of the movie is dark with a feeling of hopelessness. There is not much light here. It reminds me of the first Bat Man movie whereby the darkness of Gotham City was a reflection of its corruption which is where the French Revolution led as well.
In Part 2– We’ll take a look at the forces that brought about the French Revolution.