Huffington Post: “The Enduring Radicalism of ‘Les Miserables'” by Nathan Newman

“The real measure of the radicalism of Les Miserables is not in the character of the heroes or the evils visited upon them, but in that of the movie’s villain, Inspector Javert,” Newman asserts.

“Javert is the law, embodied, a representative of the system not at its worst, but in many ways at its best.  And that economic and political system, even at its best, leaves mothers dying in the streets, children orphaned and good men losing decades of their life in prison for minor crimes committed to feed their families.”

Newman’s article highlights what can be lost in the beautiful music and pageantry of the stage and screen adaptations of Hugo’s classic novel.  It is an intensely political narrative with a love story.  Or a love story with an intensely political narrative.

Either way, those who watch the stage or screen productions of Les Miserables should not let the wonderful acting and the beautiful music distract them from Hugo’s central message: sometimes good people who “toe the line” find themselves defending broken systems that, despite their best intentions and moral aspirations, fall short.

In sum, “this is the rare movie,” Newman writes, “with hard class politics that demands not opportunity for a few marginalized people but a change in the system itself.”

The full-text of Newman’s article can be found here:


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