Thursday, August 1, 2013

Les Miz Part 2: Javert

Surprisingly, I have never seen the Broadway production (which I shall call Les Miz, to differentiate it from the book. The movie will be The Les Miz Movie, or simply The Movie.). I have sung songs from it for voice recitals, I have heard others sing songs from it, and so I knew that the music was excellent. I truly wanted to see it.

When The Les Miz Movie came out, I considered it my chance to see the Broadway production without having to deal with buying expensive tickets. However, I happened to be on vacation for the extent of its playing in theatres. I eagerly anticipated the DVD, and finally - finally - saw it the night before I left for Costa Rica. It being my first experience with a theatrical version of Les Miserables, either live or filmed, I will combine my comments.

As I said in my last post, I could go on forever about the Hugo's excellent characters and their many layers. But I'm going to skip over a couple and go straight to Inspector Javert.

Javert is an awesome Character because, even though he is the villain in the story, he is not evil at all. You can't condemn a guy for trying to pursue justice. He is only doing what he thinks is right and what God wants him to do. His ideas of right and wrong are pretty spot on except for the fact that he has no concept of mercy - none whatsoever. Other than that, he is a good guy.
But that one fault - no mercy, only justice - is a pretty big one, and so he becomes a villain.
Javert believes that the law is impartial, and therefore it is perfect - and whoever is a convict must have done something wrong to merit imprisonment. And once a convict, forever a convict.

If you've seen The Movie, you may have guessed what I am about to say about Javert. It is the general consensus - and I do agree with this - that Russell Crowe was not exactly the best Javert.
Disregarding Characters, and Characterization, he didn't even look like Javert. Here is the description of Javert from the book:

His human face consisted of a stub-nose, with two enormous nostrils, toward which enormous whiskers mounted on his cheeks. You felt uncomfortable the first time that you saw these two forests and these two caverns. When Javert laughed, which was rare and terrible, his thin lips parted, and displayed, not only his teeth, but his gums, and a savage flat curl formed round his nose, such as is seen on the muzzle of a wild beast. Javert when serious was a bull-dog; when he laughed he was a tiger. To sum up, he had but little skull and plenty of jaw; his hair hid his forehead and fell over his brows; he had between his eyes a central and permanent frown, like a star of anger, an obscure glance, a pinched-up and formidable mouth, and an air of ferocious command.

Which one of these Javerts looks more like the description?
This one (from the Movie):

Or this one (the sketch by Lynd Ward from my book):

Here's some more Hugo:
Javert's entire person expressed the man who spies and hides himself... His forehead could not be seen for it was hidden by his hat; his eyes could not be seen, because they were lost under his eyebrows; his chin was plunged into his cravat, his hands were covered by his cuffs, and his cane was carried under his coat. But when the opportunity arrived, there could be seen suddenly emerging from all this shadow, as from an ambush, an angular, narrow forehead, a fatal glance, a menacing chin, enormous hands, and a monstrous rattan... As we have said, he had no vice; when satisfied with himself, he indulged in a pinch of snuff, that was his connecting link with humanity.

(Side Note: A rattan,by the way, is a switch or cane made from a palm of the same name.)

Here's another sketch:

Javert is a deep Character, and Russell Crowe didn't even begin to show that depth. He was a villain, nothing more.
(And don't even get me started on his vocal abilities - but this is a literary blog, and I will restrain myself.)

We move on to Marius next time.


Here is Les Miz Part 1: Introduction.

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