I know you are sick to death of hearing me talk about socialism and capitalism, but when the opening lines of a film sweeping the awards circuits starts out with "1815, 26 years after the French Revolution and a king once again on the throne," you have to know that socialism is on the film makers' minds; when the work shop women sing, "At the End Of the Day," complaining about their tedious work, you have to know that capitalism is on the film makers' minds; what is also on the film makers' minds is the salvation of the soul and the qualities of the souls of all in society. You can't be a good socialist if you are a lousy person, nor can you be a good capitalist if you are a lousy person, but if you are a good person everyone will benefit from it, yourself included. Tom Hooper's Les Miserables is an examination of what it takes to be a good person.
|From the opening scene: Valjean and other prisoners pull ropes to save a wrecked ship, symbolic of the wrecked ship of state in the world today. We have to ask, why silver? Of all the things Valjean could have stolen, why was silver what he took (the golden or even jewel-encrusted sacred vessels would have been options)? If you have been around this blog awhile, you might remember discussions on werewolves and why only silver can kill a werewolf: in Hebrew, the word for Word (as in the Word of God) sounds like "silver," which is why so many Crucifixes depict the Body of Christ in silver because He was the Word of God (because a werewolf is a man driven by his "animal appetites," the wolf in him can only be killed by something silver, i.e., the Word Of God; please see The Bright Autumn Moon: the Wolf Man for more). So, since they are in a Catholic church, and "stealing the silver" is really "stealing the Word of God," and why Valjean says the priest "gave it to him" and why the priest validates that answer to the authorities; the authorities don't understand--they only see a bag of stolen silver--and that's what Valjean sees, too, but the priest sees that Valjean has taken the Word of God and it will "enrich him" and we see that in two ways. First, he becomes rich in wealth and, secondly, he becomes rich in spiritual wealth, the inner-life of Grace because the spiritual life is similar to the principles of capitalism as Jesus discusses in the parable of the three talents. Valjean learns to properly invest his love in love of heavenly things instead of love of earthly things and everyone benefits from this great wealth which is exactly how it should be in society. This is why Valjean has such tremendous strength, because his soul is able to bear great burdens.|
Why, then, is Javert the villain?
Like Fantine (Ann Hathaway) and the Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter), Javert symbolizes bad capitalism. Just as Valjean depicts for us a good example of true self-interest, Javert illustrates bad self-interest in his mindless pursuit of Valjean and never minding the poor when investigating various incidents (like Fantine scratching that other captain). Javert, while confessing to Valjean that his father was a gutter farmer, and he rose to captain from being nothing, never fulfills his destiny the way Valjean fills his. Because Javert kills himself, we can say with confidence that Javert's philosophy of life is self-destructive, the simplistic views of self-interest Javert takes kills him because he hasn't been living a true Christian life; that Javert falls to his death (symbolic of a "Fall from grace," which Javert ascribes to Valjean earlier) is the opposite of Valjean "rising up" to God and the waters into which Javert throws himself is the opposite of a Baptism (Valjean, on the other hand, has a genuine Baptism when he drags Marius through the sewer because he's motivated only by love and suffers the way Christ did).
It's not because she has the terrible job, it's because she sells all her assets instead of capitalizing on them: cutting her hair, letting teeth be removed, selling her body, degrades her dignity so she can't another job, maybe even a better one. Fantine had a dream of love and marriage, but because she gave herself to Cosette's father who then left them, she obviously failed to pursue her dream properly, which is also bad capitalism.
We know they mean something in the film because they interpret the meaning of color in a song they sing. Even though they are devoted to the cause of revolution, the people aren't (we can take this as a message to socialists that they should not try a socialists revolution in the US because the people aren't behind it).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner