Les Miserables | indie42's Blog
We saw the film version of the Les Miserables musical when it first came out. I've read the book. I saw the movie with Liam Neeson and Jeffrey Rush. I'd heard the buzz about all the actors performing all the songs 'live'. And I was unprepared for the impact it had on me. I have never cried sooo much at a movie. One of the only other movies I cried a lot at was the Notebook. And it was only at the end. The other was 'Up' and that was at the beginning. Yes, I cry at movies. But the power and the presence created by each actor singing with raw emotion in the scene-- no lip syncing and recorded performances dubbed in, just did me in. I'd grabbed bunch of napkins for popcorn, and I soaked almost all of them instead with my tears.
The scene when Jean Valjean is redeemed by the priest will be etched in my memory forever. There are no words that can convey what it feels like to be saved from the consequences of your own folly. I don't know how many times I've wished someone would save me from my own stupidity. That undeserved grace from the priest was unreal. How many of us can truly say we've experienced this? In my own small way I've experienced that grace. I'm not a bad person. I've always toed the line as much as possible. I've always hated to stick out anywhere. Be the one who had to be hammered back into place. Knowing a relationship with Christ meant not sticking out, not paying for my own folly, not dying an eternal death; I chose life. I didn't know what it all meant as a kid; I just knew I wanted it. And I've had many instances since when I've seen God's mercy and grace in my life. Too many to call it coincidence, too many to say there's no such thing as God. So here's the picture of what Christ did on the cross for me, and I balled my eyes out.
The theme of forgiveness, of undeserved grace is woven throughout the whole movie. The priest's kindness turned Jean Valjean into an honest man. And a man of compassion. Because he knew he had been scum of the earth. Treated like the filth in the gutter he was. And being human, like any other Christian, he made an honest mistake. Sent Fantine into the street and utter despair. But when he realizes his mistake he raises Cosette as his own. With Javert always dogging him. The past that will never let go. It's not hard for me to find parallels between Jean Valjean's life and my own. Oh, I've never been imprisoned by anything but my own ineptitude and fear, but I've made mistakes and I've been aghast at my own failings. And I've been wronged for no good reason other than she felt like I deserved it at the time.
But the lessons I've learned over my lifetime is that forgiveness is not just for the other person; it is for us. To be able to let go. To move on. And that truly knowing and experiencing God's forgiveness can, and should, change us. Javert was forgiven by Valjean. But clinging to the law, he could not reconcile forgiveness with dirty deeds done decades ago. He couldn't accept that a man could change. That God could be behind that change. The same God that gave he, Javert, the right to pursue and complete his job to perfection. Just like Judas, who couldn't understand what true forgiveness really is, what unconditional love really is, he did the one thing left that he could allow himself to do within his own prison made of the law: commit suicide. Without love, the law is cold, and inimitable. Deadly. With love, the law is only a construct used to help, but never to punish. To bring life, hope, where once there was nothing.
Having experienced these things, been forgiven and chosen to forgive, feeling it deeply, I balled my eyes out. When I see Les Miserables again, I know my reaction will still be the same. It is good reminder of whom I have believed in, and why.
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