Les Miserables at the Movies

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I have yet to see the movie Les Miserables in the theater, but was expecting to. I then came across this article from “The Catholic Wife” and now I’m not as excited to go. Here’s what she said. What are your thoughts?

Les Mis – A Drop of Poison Spoils the Cup

I think it’s important to protect your own soul from impurity – crude or mean lyrics in music, excessive violence, and the ever over-sexualized media in TV, ads, and movies. It’s not easy to do since it calls for withdrawing from social norms and allowing others to label you as an extremist, but it’s worth it. For example, we used to watch The Office all the time – hilarious, right? we never missed an episode; but somewhere along the line, sexual humor was pretty strongly woven into the dialogue and plot. Sure the show’s hysterical, but when it comes down to brass tacks, general disrespect toward sex and its sacramental purpose is unacceptable. We don’t watch media with sexual content; movies with scenes of sexuality in them are ruled out because it’s just not pure and holy to watch other people, acting or not, and we don’t want to invite such content into our home.
What you accept/watch/read reveals the inner on-goings of your soul, what you value, and what you don’t. I haven’t always subscribed to this approach – there was plenty of music and media that I won’t encounter again because despite a good beat, plot, or lesson involved, it came at the cost of purity of heart; which, according to Christ, is the ability to see God (Matthew 5:8). And I excused myself from this rule saying that I wasn’t been corrupted or compromised.

image from imdb.com

image from imdb.com
Let me say that I’m not commenting on Les Miserables by Victor Hugo or the stage production, but rather the most recent movie release. Truth be told, I haven’t read the book and it’s been 10 years since I went to the production. I was over the moon for the movie to come out and anticipated its release for months and months. Since seeing it on stage, I memorized the soundtrack, shouting “2-4-6-0-1″ from my room in high school and blaring “One Day More” on repeat in the car. Sitting in the theater the other day, I breathlessly awaited the main theme once Jean Valjean tore up his parole papers and knew I was in for an amazing experience.
I saw Les Mis this weekend and I don’t think it’s worth seeing – at least in-theater.
The music and actors have nothing to do with it, neither does the general story because all were sublime. There’s no denying the rush of the score and the fervor in the lyrics, both of which were powerful. I don’t recommend the movie because, at least while it’s in theaters, you can’t skip over the gross sexuality on display, and on such a huge scale.  In addition to the general sexuality within the first part of the movie (completely through “Master of House”), there were two sexual scenes/shots – one could have been cut entirely and the other didn’t have to be nearly as explicit as it was. If you’ve seen it, I’m referring to the entire “Lovely Ladies” scene including Fantine’s first “client” as well as the general behavior in “Master of the House,” which includes the “Santa shot.” [Spoiler alert] –> Silly me, I didn’t realize how involved the on-screen adaptation would be once Fantine sold herself into prostitution, especially once Hollywood got a hold of it; even setting her tragic situation aside, the blatant immodesty among other characters (both main and chorus) was already too much, but was then further emphasized by cinematography. How many shots of overly revealing attire do you need??
Les Mis, as a movie, was poisoned by both significant and subtle exploitation of sexuality and the human body; and what could have been a beautiful story purely portrayed left a bad taste of “it was ok, but…” It’s a genuine tragedy since so many Catholic themes are presented throughout the rest of the film, including God’s saving grace, the welcoming charity among religious communities, the difference between allowing your heart to be softened by faith versus hardened within it (Valjean vs. Javert), and a monsignor who shows remarkable compassion and mercy. Thank God I can find this actualized elsewhere.
So what, you’re going to write off the whole movie based on 2 brief scenes and some low-cut dresses? Yes, I am. We live in a time when too often people do the opposite by writing off sexuality in media for the sake of a good story, a funny sitcom, or a drama that gets you hooked. But at what cost am I willing to be entertained? Is it worth letting my soul’s guard down to see “A Heart Full of Love” so sweetly performed? No. Please note that I’m well aware that this film could and will draw others to God, to Christ, to the Church, but my suggestion is that, for those of us who already hold dear the aforementioned Catholic themes, seeing the movie in-theater is inadvisable because the sexuality is unavoidable. 
The bottom line and my own concluding 2 cents is that life can be lived better without seeing Hollywood’s adaptation of Hugo’s novel – at least in theater. My thoughts have nothing to do with the story itself or the difficulty of the historical age, but rather speak to Hollywood. If you must see it, wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray release so you can skip the trashy scenes. In hindsight, I wish I had stuck to the soundtrack and production in my memory.

Comments

comments

29 Comments

  • Supershack says:

    I have just found this amazing website and I love all of your uplifting story’s. My personal favourite is the one about your daughter kamri I think and her blister. It’s an amazing story and so are all the rest. These Story’s are so interesting and I can’t get enough. I plan to read them all and I hope you keep writing!

  • Spencer says:

    Hey Ben the way that I figure out if I am going to see a movie that people find offensive is by going to this website. http://kids-in-mind.com This will break down the three biggest things as parents, and movie goers, you want to subject yourself, or let your kids see. How much Violence, Sex/Nudity, and Language is your limit.

  • Anonymous says:

    Ben, I found your blog post after someone referred to it on facebook. I saw the movie the other day and I had a similar experience as The Catholic Wife. I understand that people get mad when some of us reject the whole because of parts that are unsavory to us, but the fact is that it is our choice. I am like you in that images stay with me and seeing the whole movie may not be

    • Ben says:

      I appreciate your comments. I think the one thing that bothers me the most is that people will feel a sense of "judgement" or "self-righteousness" when an issue is brought up. I love seeing different people's perspectives and am fine allowing people to make their own choices without shelling out any unrighteous judgement. I personally just like to see how others make

  • Anonymous says:

    The story won’t change, the message will be the same. It seems people easily reject things of great value because of one perceived flaw. If we were to make every decision based on a principle of absolute rejection due to supposed or actual imperfections then we wouldn’t have friends, we wouldn’t have jobs, we would read less and less, we would continually decrease what we experience.

    • Ben says:

      Wonderful thoughts. My one question is this: at what point do all these imperfections in our lives really amount to something that we should steer away from? When do we stand up for what we think is right? As good messages are mixed with bad, it becomes a harder decision I feel. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it&#39;s when you, as a whole, are moving toward a negative footprint, then you need to stand up for yourself. If something, as a whole, is (or is moving) negative, then stand against it. It seems to me that standing against parts of a whole is self-righteous, but I do think self-editing at a personal, responsible level is important.<br /><br />As far as I can tell if we merely make

    • Ben says:

      Thanks for your comment. I think most people who stick up for things eventually get labeled with the self-righteous tag though.

  • Fotofule says:

    I never saw the play but my sister and BIL did. I remember vividly their retelling of the production – I think we spent 2 hours around the dinner table – absolutely enthralled. My husband bought me the soundtrack and my kids and I would blare the music and dance to &quot;Master of the House&quot;, but I&#39;d always rush over and turn the volume down during the crude words. The music made a big

    • Ben says:

      I really need to read the book, but I keep putting it off. My worry is sometimes things stick in my mind and I don&#39;t want them to. For some people this doesn&#39;t happen, so I can understand why they would have no problem seeing it. Thanks for the comment!

  • Amy says:

    It seems to me that those worried about the sexuality in the movie overlook the inherent connection between sexuality and humanity. This movie was not a show glorifying sexuality. The scene with Fantine shows her deep pain at having lost everything–including control of her own body, in order to try to save her daughter&#39;s life. I wonder how those of you who would call that profane or overly

    • Ben says:

      Amy, thanks for your thoughts. I guess, back to &quot;The Catholic Girl&quot; and her article, she mentioned that seeing it when it comes out on DVD would be a way to still receive all the good that the movie has to offer while avoiding those scenes which would make some people uncomfortable. Again, great comment, thanks.

  • Bravo, Ben! It takes guts to take a stand like this. And everyone who loved the movie is going to give you an earful…but we each must make a choice about how much of &quot;the world&quot; we are willing to allow into our hearts and minds. <br /><br />Personally, I remember watching the stage production, and being turned off by the master of the house scene, because unlike the other people

    • Ben says:

      I remember really wanting to see Passion of the Christ but deciding not to see it. I had a friend who went back and forth and finally saw it, and was glad he did, but he said he never wanted to see it again.<br /><br />Often I wish I could see a certain movie, but end up not going – mostly because I&#39;m too cheap to get a babysitter, but a few days later I&#39;m over the fact that I missed out

    • Ah, yes, the babysitter excuse. Kids save us from ourselves sometimes! ;)<br />

  • Ticklemedana says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the first comment, ben. You cannot watch dreamed a dream and NOT connect with it after what she has just experienced 5 minutes prior. Make your own decision, but if you miss this movie because of about 5 seconds of (mostly) tasteful crap, then I’m sorry for you. Though I do agree the Santa thing was completely pointless.

    • Ben says:

      Thanks for your comment, you guys are definitely a persuasive bunch! Still haven&#39;t got the courage up to have the Santa talk with the kiddos. 🙂

    • Ben says:

      So, since I am pretty unfamiliar with Les Mis, I now realize that the Santa reference you spoke about was not what I thought, sorry. ha.

  • Jeni says:

    I saw it with Sean and his mom and dad….we all loved it.

  • Jilly says:

    I guess this sex stuff everyone is talking about just wasn’t what I took away from it because that’s not what I remember. Or my memory sucks as I get older hahaha. I saw a woman doing something she hated and did not want to do all for the sake of her child. I saw her very soul breaking in that moment. I didn’t see an unnecessary sex scene.

  • Jilly says:

    To be honest, reading this article made me want to just slap this lady upside the head. Maybe my lack of church-going over the last decade has me desensitized a bit, but I don&#39;t think that is the case with this movie. And frankly it irritates me that when she went home from an almost 3 hour long movie, the first thing she thought of was &quot;OH MY GOSH! There was sexual stuff in it!&quot;

    • Ben says:

      Thanks for your 25 cents, :). It’s nice to understand the perspectives of different people. You communicated your opinion very well. Thanks for the comment. The whole issue does remind a little bit of the whole Sunday School lesson about the brownies that have a scoop of poop in it. haha.

    • Donna Hovey says:

      I saw the movie, and the whole thing did not move me as much as the Broadway production…if not moved, I was captivated by much of the acting,and the story, most of which I had forgotten. In my opinion, there WAS a scene with simulated sex…he lifted up her skirt, baring her thighs, which were in an obstetrical position, got on top of her and was moving forward and backward while she winced.

    • Ben says:

      My wife does keep hinting she&#39;d like to see it on Broadway… 🙂 Thanks for the comment Donna.

    • turkeycove says:

      we went to the broadway production last year and it was exactly as you described as the movie plus there was simulated oral sex going on too on stage. I could have done without that and I hoped my kids didn&#39;t understand what they were seeing.

    • Ben says:

      Let&#39;s hope they didn&#39;t, but kids these days are exposed to this content all the time so they probably were aware unfortunately. 🙁

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