To me the book and stage play emphasized the themes of freedom and justice more than any other theme. The film, to me focused more on redemption, forgiveness, change versus stasis, and love, with freedom and justice in the background.
One of the things that struck me as particularly poignant was Javert's stubborn persistence that "a man such as you does not change," despite being confronted repeatedly by the evidence that Valjean's new persona was a different man than the hardened con Javert insists upon seeing. In the end, Javert opts for suicide rather than change his opinion or methods. Ironically, while I think most Americans would have applauded the French Revolution and the move to freedom, and while Javert represents the repressive, unjust Monarchy, he reminded me of many conservatives I know who simply seem unable to accept change or to reach out to someone they see as inferior or lost, as the Bishop did to Valjean in the beginning of the movie.
I have also watched a couple of other movies lately, which I recommend with the caveat that if you hate subtitles and don't understand French or Spanish, you may find these films tedious.
The first of these is "De rouille et d'os" a French film with the English title of "Rust and Bone.." This film explores the relationships between a man, his son, his sister's family, and a woman the man meets. There are some powerful lessons regarding the distinction between chronological and emotional maturity, about perseverance, and about the impact of kindness and of thoughtlessness. We ran it in Spanish with
The second was a movie I have seen before Sea Inside ("Mar Adentro"). Somehow, watching it closely after the first two I have discussed, I saw things I missed the first time around. As a disabled person, though not now nearly as severely, I found myself relating to some of the main character's attitudes and positions to a greater degree than I did the first time I saw it.
Seen in close proximity, these three films set me to ruminating on what love really is and is not, from the love of God, to parental love, to romantic love, to platonic love. That love can grow from platonic love, that tragedy or a glimpse inside someone's mind can spark it, as well as a glance,. I was also confronted by the concept of self-love and forgiveness, shame and se;f-protection.
I recommend them all. I'd like to own them all. I would also recommend, although it was not conscious this time, that when dealing with drama films, it's worth viewing several with the same issues in succession. Some how the themes just get amplified.