“I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.” This quotation came from the film Les Miserables, directed by Tom Hooper. The film was based on a novel by Victor Hugo. The film was in the 1800’s during the period of Restoration. The major happenings were taken in Paris, but some of it took place in the neighboring towns. This review focuses on the character that symbolizes the good but poverty-stricken woman driven to despair and death by a cruel society-Fantine.
Les Miserables features Fantine as a mother who was abandoned by her lover, Tholomyes. Upon knowing she was pregnant she had no choice but to take care of her child on her own. She gave her daughter under the provision of the Thenardiers. She began working in a factory, owned by Monsieur Madeleine. During her stay there, her co-workers stole a letter from her and it is written that her daughter needs money because she’s sick. Her co-workers spilled the news to the foreman, and eventually she got fired from her job. As a result, she began to find ways on how she’ll be able to provide for her daughter, she then began selling her locket, hair and tooth. When she had nothing more to sell, she sold herself as a last resort. One night, a man told the inspector that she was trying to harass him. Without a doubt, the inspector held Fantine to imprison her. Monsieur Madeleine instantly got into the situation to save Fantine only to find out she’s fatally ill with tuberculosis. She was brought to the hospital where Madeleine promised her that he will take care of Cosette then Fantine faced her death.
The film shows the inferiority of the female gender in the society and that women were seen as sex objects. Hugo demonstrates the hypocrisy of the society that fails to educate girls and excludes women such as Fantine while encouraging the behavior of men such as TholomyeÌ€s. Since it was the 19th century, it is a disgrace if a woman has an illegitimate child. So Fantine had two options: place her child in the care of a willing family so that she could earn a provisional wage or abandon the child at the local hospice making the baby a ward of the state. So why did Fantine choose the former? Because abandoning Cosette at a hospice, although cheaper, easier, and faster, would have been a death sentence for the little girl. That time, half of all illegitimate children were given over to the state, and over half of those children ended up dying in the first year. The hospices were filthy, understaffed, underfinanced, and overcrowded. That’s why Fantine decided to just let her child stay with the Thenardiers. A mother’s determination, sacrificial love and perseverance were greatly shown in this film. Yet when we look into our culture, we see a society dismissing the virtues of motherhood that she embodied-the virtues of sacrificial love and persistent loyalty. On the latter part of the film, Fantine was fired and began selling her hair, tooth and herself. Over time, a man called her names and she defended herself, the man then told the inspector, and Fantine was supposed to be imprisoned for defending herself from harassment. This plot illustrates the being “nobody” of a woman and being powerless. Though the society was in the 19th century, nothing much has changed over the years. We still live in a community wherein men are considered superior over women.
The film didn’t fail in retelling the happenings in the past. The actors gave respect and dignity in their given characters and performed really well. Furthermore, the set design, costume design and soundtrack were really effective in understanding the movie more, since the designers used the attire that was worn during the 19th century aligned with the set design. I highly recommend this movie to every individual in our society, especially for the government officials, teenagers as well as the adults. Hugo’s style of imaginative realism, a very believable creation of an imagined world, emphasizes the two major predicaments of the 19th century: degradation of man in the proletariat and oppression of women. In this case, we can see that nothing much has changed through the years, these predicaments remain up to this day. Nonetheless, the film is full of life-changing lessons, it was a great film and it is definitely worth your time.