Les Misérables (1934 film)

Les Misérables

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Raymond Bernard
Produced by Raymond Borderie
Bernard Natan
Written by Raymond Bernard
André Lang
Starring Harry Baur
Charles Vanel
Music by Arthur Honegger
Cinematography Jules Kruger
Distributed by Pathé-Natan
Release dates
February 9, 1934 (1934-02-09)
Running time
280 minutes
Country France
Language French

Les Misérables is a 1934 film adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel of the same name. It was written and directed by Raymond Bernard and stars Harry Baur as Jean Valjean and Charles Vanel as Javert. The film lasts four and a half hours and is considered by critics to be the greatest adaptation of the novel, due to its in-depth development of the themes and characters in comparison with most shorter adaptations.[1][2][3]

It was released as three films that premiered over a period of three weeks.


Jean Valjean is an ex-convict struggling to redeem himself, but his attempts are continually ruined by the intrusion of Javert into his life. Javert is a cruel, ruthless police inspector who has dedicated his life to pursuing Valjean, whose only crime was stealing a loaf of bread, for which he gets 5 years in jail. And then he serves an additional 14 years for a handful of escape attempts.

The film, like the novel, features numerous other characters and plots, such as Fantine, a woman forced into prostitution to help pay two cruel innkeepers, the Thénardiers, who are looking after her daughter Cosette, and the story of the revolutionaries, including Marius, a young man who falls in love later on in the film with the now-adult Cosette.


Differences from the novel

The film is, for the most part, faithful to the original novel, however, there are some differences:

Critical reaction

The film has been referred to as "the most complete and well rounded adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel".

Raymond Bernard's version of Les Misérables was chosen by curator Robert Herbert as one of a number of films to support an exhibition of French drawings held in 2010 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. The Exhibition was entitled David to Cézanne: master drawings from the Prat Collection, Paris. It ran from 22 September until 5 December 2010. The film was screened 30 October, 3 November and 7 November in the Gallery's Domain Theatre.

Home video

The Criterion Collection released Les Misérables under the Eclipse label, along with Bernard's Wooden Crosses (1932) in the Raymond Bernard DVD collection on July 17, 2007.

This version runs around twenty minutes shorter than the original release, although it is entirely possible that the five-hour-and-five-minute running time may be inaccurate, or counts intermissions from the original release that are not included in the Criterion release. The liner notes for the DVD describe how the film was reissued at varying lengths over the following decades and was only restored to approximately its original length shortly before Raymond Bernard's death, minus some scenes that could not be recovered.

See also


  1. "Raymond Bernard - Eclipse Series 4 : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2011-05-26.
  2. "Review: Les Misérables (1934)". Matte Havoc. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2011-05-26.
  3. "Raymond Bernard on DVD". Cineaste. Retrieved 2011-05-26.

External links

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