My artistic(schmistic) view of Les Miserables

Neo Classicism and Romanticism have been known to be two very different and competitive styles that existed during the same time period. From art forms to musical compositions these two styles constantly rivaled each other. Neoclassicism focused more on showing the honest realities of life. While Romanticism wanted to delve deep into projecting images of raw emotion and Wilderness by showcasing abstract images that detail the truth of livelihood After the French Revolution. In the film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables directed by Billie August in 1998 we saw a mixture of both styles rivaling each other through the characters themselves. Jean Valjean and Javert are perfect examples of Romanticism and Neoclassicism. With Valjean portraying the reformed convict with a passion for helping other people, thus learning to love others above himself while Javert was described as the moral inspector who followed the rules with order and without a hair out of place. But then again Valjean is a complex character he hovers between romanticism and neoclassicism. Neoclassicism, because of some actions that he does with Cosette, his adoptive daughter, but is still considered a Romantic character because he thinks of Cosette as “the only happiness in his life” but he keeps her on a tight rein, bringing out his authoritative side.

A perfect example of this treatment is in one of the scenes from Les Miserables when Cosette sees Marius for the 2nd time, sitting on a bench across the square where she was working with her father in a stall, handing out meals to the poor. When Cosette ventures to meet Marius while her father was looking for clothes for Gavroche and his “children”. But as she and Marius were about to approach each other. Valjean appears leading Cosette away from Marius who saw Valjean gazing at him, while Cosette insisted on going for a walk but in vain. Valjean tells her to get in the carriage and she did while gazing forlornly at Marius as the carriage was about to ride away. But before the carriage was too far along. Gavroche reappears telling Marius, that the man she was with was her father, Marius scoffs and makes a snide comment about Valjean “not being her father but her jailer.” after that Marius instructs Gavroche to find out where Cosette and Valjean live.

Another Scene that shows Valjean’s treatment of Cosette is by how he treats like she was still a child of a certain age and not a fully grown woman. Cosette becomes more passionate about her love for Marius, as he is with her. Valjean not knowing how to deal with this 1st, slapped Cosette as he found out about the nights she spends with Marius behind his back, going on about how her little “romance” ruined the situation that he worked so hard to keep. But Cosette fires back by saying that “He never told her anything about his past” and “she doesn’t know who he was.” In general terms Cosette and Marius represent the Romanticism during that time with Valjean countering a little bit as a Neoclassicist character even though he is more described as a romantic and that is also shown when he accepts Cosette and Marius’s love for each other. In simpler terms Valjean represents both as a persona for Romanticism and Neoclassicism while Cosette and Marius showcases romanticism more in the film.

Sources:

http://classes.berklee.edu/llanday/spring02/tech/r&c.htm

http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/enlightenment_age.html

http://history-world.org/age_of_enlightenment.htm

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/219315/French-Revolution

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