I just saw Les Miserables this weekend and I about curious about opinions on Javert.
I did not really know the story going into the film, but from what I gathered, I was really meant to "hate" Javert (the character, not Russell Crowe's adaptation.)
I did not hate him. In fact, I found him to be the most complex character in the film. His suicide has disturbed me and I have contemplated it for days since seeing the film.
Why do you personally feel he committed suicide? Did you hate the character? Have you seen other versions of the work that portrayed him less sympathetically?
Hey thanks for the question, Esme. Maybe browsed Hugo's Les Miserables in school but don't remember the plot. You and Len have gotten me interested in seeing the movie now. Is this the recent one that's all singing? Hard to imagine Russell Crowe warbling if so.
The suicide took me by surprise, too. It didn't seem to fit with the character - which made me feel Russell Crowe had done a bad job of creating the character. Unlike everyone else in this thread, I wasn't impressed by his performance - I think he was meant to be upright and resolute, but he just came across as wooden and expressionless to me.
I think he was the one actor in the whole film who was disadvantaged by having to sing everything. The other actors (especially Anne Hathaway) had no trouble investing their voice with emotion when they sang. Russell didn't seem all that comfortable singing, and that's why he seemed to sing most of his lines fairly straight, without putting much feeling into them.
You're not supposed to hate Javert, although you're certainly supposed to be on Valjean's side. He's someone who has never seen anything redemptive in his own life and is unable to see any reason for the world or the people living in it to change. What can you expect of someone who grew up inside of a jail and grew up to become a jailer?
He commited suicide because, after years and year, he finally realized that Jean Valjean was a good person, which was completely at odd's with his life's philosophy. His center could not hold. In the end, though, he was still focused on punishment. Suicide, to someone deeply religious in a Catholic nation, is a mortal sin. He had done wrong and he was denied heaven.
This is what has plagued me about his character--it seemed as though in his mind he knew that no matter what he did, God's grace was going to cover him, that he would be welcomed into heaven and this is precisely what he seemed unable to accept. It was as if he sought to find something he felt grace could not cover. To me, what grace did not cover was not his suicide, but the motivation behind it--that he was going to usurp grace itself. Any thoughts on that?
Love the "center could not hold" quote. What do you think was Javert's center? It seemed to be God, ultimately--he spoke of the stars as watching in the night for anyone who falls and if Lucifer falls, he would be there to put him in his place. But his center seemed to actually be the law when it came down to it, or rather his interpretation of the law. I don't know...I'm still sorting this guy out.
I have been a fan of Les Mis since I was a kid, and Javert was always my favorite character. In fact I named my teddy bear after him. Javert The Bear.
I think it might be hard the first time you see or hear it, but if you pay attention to the lyrics (or even look them up and read them) you begin to understand how dynamic the character is and the internal struggles he faces with what he has always believed is right and how what he witnesses differs from that.
I have to say though, the movie was amazing. I have seen this on stage many times and loved it but seeing the characters close up you don't just feel the emotion in their voices you see it in their faces.
I was a bit anxious about Russell Crowe playing my most beloved character, but I think he did well. They all did well. Now I want to go see it again!!!
I agree with you, Javert was my favorite character. I don't know, I just always gravitate toward characters with more complexity. I truly felt for him when he committed suicide because he seemed to find no way to exist in the world--earlier on he was willing to accept punishment for filing what he believed was a false report, but now, after what he has seen, he realizes that he will never be punished--that punishment isn't even on the table. This seems to be a dissonance he can never resolve. It is so sad to me when he makes the remark that though Valjean freed him, he killed him just the same. I went to that movie not really expecting much (not a huge fan of musicals) and came out pondering it for days and days. I'm going to have to pick up the book now and read it.
I love Les Mis (the movie) tremendously. I am not really sure though as to why Javert chose to commit suicide...Perhaps he felt he has done a lot of wrong and didn't deserve to keep on livin'.
What I found fascinated about Javert was, and this is obviously my own opinion, that he was as unable to accept grace as Valjean was able to accept it. Javert seemed to me to be a sincere man, he sincerely seemed to believe he was doing what was not only right according to the law, but according to God. When he sang about his heart of stone now trembling, it seemed to me that his heart trembled at the awe grace--the complete concept of it was now something that was taking hold of him. But, it seemed to me that what caused him to commit suicide was not that grace meant that there was no punishment for others, that there was no justice, it seemed that what he could not accept was that there would be no punishment for him--the he too, just like Valjean, was able to have the same grace and to him, it seemed that he could not accept this concept. It was as if he felt so much remorse for his mercilessness that he himself could accept no mercy. It was almost as if Valjean could accept grace because he almost felt he deserved it--I don't mean that he felt he was good and had done no wrong, but that he felt that grace made something good of the the hell he felt he spent in prison. Javert, however, seemed to feel that grace turned the world upside down and that something was offered him he had no right to. The whole movie, to me seemed to be an exploration of legalism vs. grace and I was simply fascinated as I had no idea that was a theme when I entered the theater.
No, Russell Crowe wasn't much of a singer, but I tell you, I felt for him. I felt so much for him that i didn't mind his singing. I
I've seen the movie 3 times already and am planning another visit. I think the key to understanding Javert is found in the lyrics to the song Stars:
"And so it has been and so it is written
On the doorway to paradise
That those who falter and those who fall
Must pay the price!"
In his own mind, Javert had to pay the price for his failure to catch Valjean. What do you think?
I think that this was what he lived his life by, certainly. But I think that when Valjean freed him he was put into a paradox from which his own conscience could not free him. He could still catch Valjean, but it would be immoral as he was now in Valjean's debt. But to allow Valjean to go free put him in the position of disobeying the law he was sworn to uphold. I think that the part wherein you are absolutely correct is that Javert did what he did because of what he believed in his own mind--Javert's beliefs were based on experience and experience had always proven him right. When placed in a place wherein he had no experience, the place was too tenuous for him to hold on to and he relied on himself, meting on the punishment he would have on any other criminal, which is what he seemed to perceive himself to be--IMHO.
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