Synopsis by Judd Blaise
Not a strict adaptation of the oft-filmed Victor Hugo classic, director Claude Lelouch's ambitious epic instead focuses on the story of two men, a father and a son, whose life stories bear striking similarities to Hugo's character Jean Valjean. The father is Henri Fortin (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a chauffeur (in 1900) wrongly accused of his employer's murder. Like Valjean, he is subjected to a harsh and unfair prison sentence. While Henri vainly attempts to escape his unjust fate, his family suffers, with his wife forced to raise their young son alone. The film jumps ahead several decades to show the adult life of this son (also Belmondo), a former boxer turned furniture mover who agrees to help smuggle a Jewish lawyer (Michel Boujenah) out of France during the Nazi occupation. Along the way, the lawyer reads to the younger Fortin from Les Misérables, and Fortin begins to imagine himself in the role of Jean Valjean, on the run from the obsessive Inspector Javert.
against-the-system, ballet-dance, boxing, going-straight, harassment, Judicial-system, killing, lawyer, Nazism, obsession, one-against-odds, penal-system, prison, prostitute/prostitution, redemption, suicide
High Production Values