Les Miserables

Les Miserables

The 1998 film version of Les Miserables stars Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean and Geoffrey Rush as the unforgiving Inspector Javert.   Valjean is a former convict who has been rescued to God’s grace by a benevolent priest.   The priest challenges Valjean to become a new man and provides the means to start again.  Despite his best efforts, however, the relentless pursuit of an unforgiving law keeps a Valjean on the run and disrupts his efforts to care for other victims of a society dominated by cruelty and injustice.    

 DISCUSS:

  1. QUESTION:  After forgiving Jean Valjean for stealing, the priest makes him promise to become a new man and says “You no longer belong to evil… I’ve ransomed you from fear and hatred.  And now I give you back to God.”  This is clearly the pivotal scene in the story.  In what ways does this moment echo the Christian gospel?   (See "A" Below) 
  2. QUESTION:   Jean Valjean’s life clearly portrays the power of grace and forgiveness.  What does Inspector Javert’s life portray?   (See "B" Below) 
  3. QUESTION:  In the final scene of the film Inspector Javert says that he lived his entire life trying to keep every rule.  He could not grasp the concept of grace.  What biblical characters does he bring to mind? (See "C" Below)

    THINK ABOUT IT:

    • A)  God does not seek to punish but to forgive.  He pays the price to “ransom” us from evil.  He then calls us to become new men and women.  (See Mark 10:45, John 8:1-12, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:17)
    • B)  A life of self-righteousness striving to live according to the cruel taskmaster of the law.  (See Romans 3:20, Romans 6:14, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:13)
    • C)  The older brother in the story of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-32) or the Pharisee and the tax-collector who cried “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”  (See Luke 18:9-14)

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