Un film de Les Misérables

I’ve been reading Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”, which means reading a lot of chase scenes. It’s been a pleasant surprise, actually, in an otherwise sad, serious and seriously great book, to follow Jean Valjean across the face of France as Inspector Javert tries to reel him in.

After a while it all started reminding me of “The Fugitive,” and Dr. Richard Kimble. I have only seen the 1993 movie of “The Fugitive,” made by Andrew Davis, but apparently the television series was “sort of modern rendition of the outline of Les Misérables,” according to the producer.

Some links between the 1993 movie and “Les Misérables” are described here:

(Spoilers below.)

The movie’s sequence in the tunnel and sewer echoes several acts by Valjean: his sparing of Javert; his escape from Javert’s men as they close in on him from two sides outside the convent; his later escape through an iron grate that leads into the the sewers; and his earlier escape from prison guards by “doing a Peter Pan”, as U.S. Marshal Gerard would put it, from the top of a tall ship’s mast down into the water below (there is also a weak echo of Javert’s dive many years later into “huge and terrible swirls” of water, where “men who fall … never reappear.”)

Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble

Valjean and Kimble are both exonerated, near the end, from the charge of killing a police officer.

In the movie, the police arrest a drug dealer living in a poor tenement but are not even aware that Dr. Kimble is living there too, all of which recalls the scene in which Javert arrests Thénardier in the Gorbeau tenement but misses Valjean, “the real prize,” without even knowing him.

There is no necessary influence, but Dr. Kimble is sentenced to death in both the TV series and film, and this recalls Victor Hugo’s lifelong opposition to the death penalty, expressed repeatedly in “Les Misérables” and other novels.

I blog here about classics, by which I usually mean novels, but a classic is what “The Fugitive” is. It’s just one of the best action movies you can possibly see, and a little more than that.

I was frankly obsessed with “The Fugitive” when it came out in 1993. I sometimes associate a great movie soundtrack with a novel I’m reading at the same time. Back then I particularly enjoyed listening to the somber track “Kimble In the River”, while reading some parts of Mary’s Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” and if you’ve read that novel you may know, or rather feel, what I mean.

Leave a Reply