Those of you who know the 1995 “Les misérables du 20e siècle”, do you remember that one scene rather early in the movie were little Henri Fortin watches his first Les misérables movie? It’s at the inn his mother goes to work after the arrest of his father and little Henri hides behind the screen so he doesn't have to work and can watch the movie. The part of the movie we see shows Valjean carefully extracting a little saw out of a sou coin and starting to file through his chain. Have you ever wondered what movie that is from? Well, I have. And now I know. This one (which adds another point to the long list of anachronisms in the 1995 movie, but I’m not here to bash that movie).
So yes, at the Forum des images (details about that in the 1925 movie thread), La Saboteuse and me also saw the 1913 movie. Or rather the 1912 movie. That’s at least the year on the title screen. And the first thing that this movie makes me wonder is: Were dialogue intertitles not yet invented in 1912? Because this movie doesn’t have a single one. There are title cards that explain what happens in the following scene. If there should be dialogue, characters typically write each other letters. For example, Marius writes a letter to M Gillenormand about wanting to marry. Gillenormand sits down to write back. Marius arrives in person. Gillenormand just gives him the letter to read, thereby also making it visible to the audience. Was that a thing at the time? Is it the director?
The movie is rather heavily cut and treads carefully around the more delicate subjects (prostitution, child abuse etc.). There’s not a single actor who’s standing out. Valjean has a few cool expressions, Marius apparently looks like Michael Cera (says La Saboteuse, I don’t know the guy) and reminds me of Michael Ball and Javert is so incredibly over the top it’s painful. And he wears a really, really stupid wig. See here: http://www.allposters.de/-sp/Henri-Etie ... 44768_.htm
This movie is not as remarkable as the other (1925) we saw and pales in direct comparison (and comparison is going to happen if you watch them on consecutive days). It has a few nice scenes, but the heavy cuts and lack of (written) dialogue are only annoying. It’s even worse for somebody who knows the book, because several scenes get set up and then don’t actually happen. Valjean escaping from Toulon made me think we were going to get a detailed account of his time in Toulon – but no, he just manages to escape! After two years of his 5-year-sentence. It makes the character much less tragic and when he is turned from every inn in Digne, my only thought is that he’s still lucky nobody called the police. Later in the movie, Valjean and Cosette arrive to give money to the Jondrettes. Marius sees Cosette, asks Éponine to find her, before returning to his room – which is when the movie cuts to a different scene. They set up the guet-apens only for it to not actually happen. Another one: After Fantine has sold her hair, a couple of women start making fun of her new haircut. A fight breaks out and Javert arrests Fantine there and then.
This is also no movie for Amis-fans. If I remember correctly, not even Enjolras is named and the barricade scenes are really short.
All in all, it’s interesting to see, but more for collectors or people interested in old movies, not necessarily as a Les Mis adaptation.
Again, if there are questions, feel free to ask.