A few words about Les Mis

Some of the puritanical naysaying is depressingly predictable (although it seems to be a minority view) and I suppose if you’re sniffy about the musical, you’ll probably find reasons to dislike the movie . . .

. . . but that aside, Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables (hereafter Les Mis because I’m too lazy to do the accent) is really great. Quick film-y review: superb performances by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, an inspired decision to sing live are the good; the bad is the ropey singing from Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried and a stupid cameo from Saint Nicholas.

A quick thought or two about the film’s religiosity. Valjean’s conversion and redemption seemed much more prominent in the film than in the musical. The songs are the same but the setting places Christianity in the centre. Not only in the action’s of the Bishop of Digne — whom we also see welcoming Valjean to heaven — but also in Valjean’s soliloquy (What Have I Done?) which has him sing before an altar. It is obvious that this is the tale of a man’s redemption, bought by the “by the Passion and the Blood.”

Les Mis also offers the best cinematic depiction of the Good Death I have seen. At the end of Hugo’s novel, as Valjean breathes his last, Hugo writes: “The night was starless and very dark. Without doubt, in the gloom some mighty angel was standing, with outstretched wings, awaiting the soul.” Making Fantine that angel was already a good decision in the musical, but here, the return of Anne Hathaway, whose own Passion is so grimly rendered, was a beautiful touch. So too his return to “that same sociality” at the barricade after his death.

My sons receive several hours of religious instruction every week at school and at church but few lessons will be as effective as the conversation we had on our return to the car after the film. They both recognised the Bishop of Digne’s role as central to both Valjean’s redemption and Cosette’s salvation, which is why his return in that beatific vision at the end is so good. His single act of mercy saves souls and lives and makes Javert’s villainy all the more wicked. Given that many of us are also guilty of making Christianity into Javert’s religion of “duty, nothing more,” this is an arresting thought.

Valjean is clearly a pious man and Les Mis is no hymn to a secular charity, but what I hope Les Mis taught my boys is this: we can make our lives noble by doing what God would have us do, which is to love the less fortunate. Valjean’s path was not trod in prayer and devotion alone, although they clearly comforted and inspired him. It is, as usual, the parable of the sheep and goats. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I suggest cancelling all lessons and evangelism this month and simply get people to watch Les Mis. It is, whatever its few aesthetic flaws, the best film about Jesus I have seen.


  1. Excellent review.

  2. I loved it as well. I’ve always had a soft sad spot for Javier. I missed a soaring rendition of Stars. Other than that I thought that Russell Crow brought a great deal of humanity to Javier. In a way perhaps even the less capacity as a vocalist added to this effect. I was super annoyed and disgusted by the St. Nicklaus bit. I don’t even think the tradition of children waiting to visit and asking for gifts had even begun at this point in time and he wasn’t yet portrayed as a red clad jolly old elf. It was just vile and out of place. There is plenty to be disgusted about the Thenardier scene that is plot relevant without that stupid inclusion. Other than that scene and wanting Russell Crow to have a little more vocal range I loved it. Fontaine and Eponine always start the bawling for me. Earlier this year the production that PHS high school put on will forever live in my heart as absolute favorite.

  3. I don’t mind being disgusted by the Thenardiers because they are, well, disgusting. It’s just that the St. Nick was stupid.

  4. That’s what I was trying to say, the Thenardiers are self centered yuck vile people, their choices and life are supposed to contrast with Valjean’s life so they are supposed to be yucky. Santa inclusion was just bleck out of place and pointless to the scene.

  5. I just thought the Liam Neeson version was much better. I also thought the live version was much better. It is no doubt a great story either way.

  6. I thought Les Mis was kinda lousy. I went in knowing nothing about the story or music besides Susan Boyle, so I didn’t have some of the baggage others do in terms of comparing it with the broadway or other performances; for me it was, do I like this or not? I didn’t. Most of the characters failed the basic test of 1. Who is this person? and 2. Why do I care what he or she is doing?, particularly in the film’s second half when the bland Marius suddenly becomes the main character. Who is he? Err…some kind of student revolutionary against…umm…the government, because it is doing…bad things, I guess. He joined the revolutionaries because of reasons, and maybe he wants to help poor people? His buddy sure is passionate, but I’m not sure what his grievances are either. Marius falls in love with Cosette at one glance, and I sure wish we’d have gotten to know either character first so I’d have a reason to care (well, little girl Cosette was adorable, but that’s not much to go on after a fifteen-ish year break). Eponine, there’s some potential there, but again, we don’t spend any time getting to know her before her big song, and then she dies. She seemed nice. Hey, there’s Valjean again. He started off bitter (justifiably so), then repented and became a stand-up guy aside from a moment of thoughtlessness leading to Fantine’s death. I keep hearing about his “redemption,” but I guess they got that out of the way early because for 75% of the movie he’s a champ. Javert, he’s a right git. Apparently the only policeman in France. Possibly a French Marshall? (Should have cast Tommy Lee Jones, maybe fans would have liked his singing voice better!) Oh wait, and he’s preparing to fight against the revolutionaries, so he’s in some kind of counter-revolutionary militia too? Okay, he’s an allegory for Justice, but in service of what law? Who is he, and what does he believe, besides that “bad” people never change? Is he a beat cop? Military leader? Both? Is that a thing that happens in the world of Les Mis? The film does not deign to tell us any of that. And here’s the comic relief from Ali G and and Bellatrix Lestrange, who seem to be acting in a different, much more lighthearted movie than everyone else.

    I realize I’m piling on a work a lot of people really like, so I should say I didn’t hate the whole thing. Anne Hathaway’s big solo was lovely and a few other songs were good too. I realize that the nature of musicals is that some story details might be sacrificed for the sake of the music, but regardless, I felt like there was almost no effort toward characterization or establishing dramatic stakes. Just some nice songs, many more bland ones, and some on-the-nose symbolism. I’m glad other people like it, but equally annoyed that a mediocre film is getting the kind of praise it is. Since this the internet, I get to write wordy blog comments in response and rain on everybody’s parade :)

  7. A fair criticism on the surface but one that ignores the genre. After all, the greatest piece of musical theatre ever written — Mozart’s Magic Flute, possibly written by the Almighty Himself — is also ridiculous if laden with those expectations. Tamino falls in love with Pamina after seeing her picture for three seconds. Laughable!

  8. Casey, that’s why I liked the Liam Neeson non-musical version so much better. The story actually made sense in that one. The songs in the musical are catchy though.

  9. Fair enough, and maybe 80s musicals just aren’t for me (didn’t like Phantom of the Opera either). Part of the problem, I think, is that on stage it’s easier to accept that much of the plot and characterization are abstracted, because the “unreality” of live theater is inescapable. For a film, especially one that tries so hard for a realistic aesthetic, the abstractions are more jarring. Maybe the best solution is to embrace the theatricality and unreality in the film ala Chicago (imagine if that had been filmed that as a gritty modern courtroom drama), or to mix the singing elements with more grounded exposition to better establish things. I think Les Mis fails by trying to include both the realistic and the abstract elements of its production simultaneously all the time.

  10. Casey, I agree with that critique also. The campiness that works so well on the stage is sort of annoying on the big screen. That’s why I liked the live version better than the musical movie.

  11. I thought a lot of Les Mis was dreadful, but the lesson that one act of charity–like the priest’s–can utterly transform another person’s life was worth all the bad singing from Russell Crowe.

    RJH, I quite agree that The Magic Flute (and perhaps all of Mozart’s music) is divine. Mozart seems to be saying that when we encounter difficulties and darkness, music will show us the way. That has certainly been true in my life.

  12. Haven’t seen the film. Nor read the book. I saw the Neeson non-musical version for a class.

    My problem with it likely derives from the symbolism of the characters overwhelming the characters, and I’m guessing that Hugo did that, rather than everyone else ever since. I’m good with the Mercy/Justice conflict in it, which many Mormons seem to love. But all the characters seem so unidimensionally the one thing they are that they just seem like caricatures to me. Valjean is good, strong and persecuted. Javert is punitive and never gives up. Fantine is tragic, beautiful, powerless through no fault of her own, and the victim. Cosette is beautiful and innocent, romantic and clueless. Marius is young and bold, certain and destructive. Valjean is the proof that the lower classes have character and worth when given a chance. Javert is the relentlessness of the power of the old regime. Fantine is the hopelessness of the poor under the old regime, who exists only to please her social superiors whether she wishes to or not and to die when she can no longer do so. Cosette is the child-like promise of what the lower class could be if protected from the power of the old regime. Marius is the revolutionary class, which can destroy the old regime, but knows nothing of how to build something better.

    I am drawn to the stories of the French Revolution, and will read Hugo eventually.

  13. Neither the movies nor the stage play touch Hugo’s written work. It is impossible to distill thousands of words into one or two lines in a song or speech and expect the audience to grasp the subtlety and color the author intended for either the characters as individuals or their relationships to one another in the epic novel.

    Definitely read the book. Then go back and see the play or the film again.

  14. “Neither the movies nor the stage play touch Hugo’s written work…”

    If that means that Hugo’s book is better than any production of it, I’d have to disagree. I’d much rather watch the London production of Les Mis than read the book, condensed version or not.

    On the other hand, I saw the version the U of U did 6 years ago. It wasn’t bad, but…If you’re comparing the book to something like that then yes, the book is better.

  15. Blain, the justice/mercy thing is central to Book of Mormon theology so it makes sense that that Mormons would be into it. I was actually thinking of showing clips from Les Mis to teach the YM that subject (I guess I was thinking like Ronan).

  16. I haven’t seen the movie..having a newborn prevents me. I love the book and the musical. I love it. I admit that a little background provided in whatever thousand pages of Hugo do make the characters in the play and the movies I have seen…really amazing. You have to have some background…though perhaps 80 pages on the history of the sewer system is a bit much…but just that one situation is amazing. For Jean val Jean to sing the iconic “bring him home” so humbly and beautifully pleading for God to save this boy…then to pick up Marius and carry him through the sewers…lots to ponder.

    It is true that it’s difficult to incapsulate all of hugo’s book into 2 + hours of anything.

    Yes master of the house and lovely ladies are going to be rough…how can it not be?

    Even if you don’t want to read it all…I love the first 90 or so pages of the book…the bishop stories. They are frequently neglected in stage or movie versions…but I love them.

  17. In a Gospel Doctrine lesson a couple of years ago, we were talking about judging others. A member I admire greatly used Fantine as an example of our tendency to judge improperly – and he said, to the best of my memory:

    “If most prostitutes aren’t in Heaven after they die, there is no justice.”

    I’ve never forgotten that statement or the amazing hush that filled the chapel that day.

    I loved the book; I loved the Liam Neeson movie; I loved this musical; I especially loved Anne Hathaway’s performance and her version of that sublime song. Sung operatically, it is nice – but sung with real emotion and detail to the message . . . chills

    I love the story itself and the power of the simplicity of it all.

    Having said that, I see a lot more complexity than has been described in some of the comments. That probably is because I have read the book and know what had to be removed to make a movie.

  18. Antonio Parr says:

    Ronan –

    I loved this post, and agree 100% about the religious value of Les Mis. Non-canonical scripture in my home.

  19. Casey, a musical setting of a voluminous 19th-century French novel written for a 19th-century French audience will not be easy to follow on a first sitting. That’s what books and wikipedia are for.

  20. “the greatest piece of musical theatre ever written — Mozart’s Magic Flute, possibly written by the Almighty Himself”

    Yea, verily.

  21. wreddyornot says:

    Thanks for your post. I have loved Les Miserables in all its manifestations that I have experienced. I have to admit, there were parts of the novel that I as a young man I found hard to labor through. I hope in maturity I would find them less laborious.

    I enjoyed reading the comments above and have to admit when I read such ones as Casey’s, I was a bit taken aback. His response was reminiscent of my oldest son’s when I asked if he wanted to go see the motion picture and then go out to eat. He said, “That’s a musical, isn’t it?” I nodded. He said, “No, thanks.” We didn’t have much more discussion about it. His feeling seemed to mirror some of the negative ones above.

    Anyway, I believe appreciation of the message of the work comes through a foundation of not just reading of the book, seeing the earlier manifestations in music and word, and seeing the motion pictures, etc. It goes to the heart of love and compassion and the essentials of the gospel itself. In fact it might go to bone and beyond to the spirit.

  22. Steve L: yes, and The Dark Knight Rises makes more sense if you’ve read the comics, but
    adaptations ought to stand and fall on their own merits without requiring supplemental reading/listening. In fact, I did spend time on Wikipedia after the movie, and I learned a great deal. Doesn’t change my thoughts on the film :)

  23. RJH, three cheers for bringing in Mozart’s Magic Flute! I love it, listened to it all the time as a kid.

    My favorite parts of Les Mis are:
    1. The candlesticks. The charity/redemption/etc. that they represent and Valjean carries with him… I enjoyed seeing them next to his bed later in the film.
    2. The camp. Lovely Ladies and Master of the House embraced the camp the way Chicago did (Casey’s totally right about that)–and I really enjoyed it. Up against the nitty gritty of the rest of the film, I know tons of people hated those scenes, but I found them inspired (especially casting Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter… they WERE the Thenardiers.
    3. Fantine. Anne Hathaway really nailed it. Nitty gritty and all.
    4. Eponine. The stage to screen transition doesn’t usually go as well as it did for her, so props.

    As for almost all the rest, I can take it or leave it. I feel like they took advantage of people’s familiarity with the story and tried to dig too deep. I wish they hadn’t sung EVERY line. As an ex-music major, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Also, Javert hitting the cement piece in the canal was a bit much.

  24. I agree with Casey and Brooke about the made-for-cinema-musical. I was supremely disappointed — having read the unabridged LesMis twice in French I am somewhat of a fanatic.

    However, there is a line from the Broadway Production and one from the earlier film that have changed my life. One is: “see in this some higher plan.” I often find myself looking for that higher plan in the everyday graces and events that make up the every-day-ness of my life. The second is Valjean’s statement to Fantine when she confesses that she has been very sinful. He responds to her: “God has never seen you as anything but innocent.” Every act by Fantine — no matter how depraved from a simple glance at what she does — is redeemed by the fact that she does it out of love for Cosette. In the end, what redeems our sins and downright rottenness is the transformation that occurs when we learn to love purely. This pure love is the power of mercy overcoming justice taught in so many great ways in the film as Ronan rightly recognizes.

  25. Very nice review Ronan. I really liked that they cast Joseph Smith as Marius. But seriously, his Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was amazing.

  26. Thanks for the additional insights. I do have the book in my Kindle-queue on my phone, thus far.

  27. Excellent review of a truly excellent movie. Some of the singing in this version was not what it was in some other versions of the musical I have seen but it was not intended to be. It accomplished what it set out to do, which was to be a new and wonderful take on a great and very well-loved play.

  28. wonderdog says:

    I was avoiding the movie because of a review that said that some scenes had crossed the line. I asked friends who had seen the movie and then took my lovely bride (we’re newly weds of 33 years). After seeing the movie, I wish I had taken my 16 yo daughter. I had her read “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” this summer and I am interested in what insights she might catch. (e.g. the first scene, convicts pulling a ship into drydock in teh pouring rain, the rain is a symbol of purification as the guards tell the convicts that their labor and sweat wash away their crimes.)
    Clearly a movie/musical about Christian charity (“whosoever shall take thy silverplate give also thy silver candlesticks”), repentance and redemption. I had forgotten that Le Mis was one of my favorite novels for just those reasons.

  29. Sharee Hughes says:

    I absolutely loved this film. There were a few changes to some of the lyrics which led to greater understanding of the characters and plot. The message of redemption and mercy was so clear, and yet not overpowering. I liked all of the performances, even Russell Crowe’s less than wonderful singing (his stony cold performance made him the best Javert possible). One thing the film did that the stage musical did not was to finally allow Javert some humanity and compassion, when he pinned his medal on the body of Gavroche. Of course, Javert saw his compassion (which in the stage version is just the part where he lets Valjean go) as weakness and committed suicide because of it. I’m sure he was totally shocked when he got to the other side. My favorite line: “to love another person is to see the face of God.”

    Casey, have you been hiding away in a cave the last twenty-five years or so that you have never heard the story of “Les Miz”? Do you know nothing of French history? Read the book and I think you’ll find the essence of the story was captured very nicely in the musical.

  30. Great review, Ronan. To Casey’s point, I think it’s fair for big stories like this to assume a baseline level of knowledge of the material and context. In 200 years, the 3D holograph adaptation of the musical adaptation of the film Inglourious Basterds won’t make any sense unless you know a bit about why Jews and Americans and the French hated Nazis.

  31. Honestly, I was disappointed by the very ending more than by Crowe’s singing. Really? All this time you’re singing about getting “beyond the barricade,” and in the most eschatological segment of the music, the characters aren’t actually “liv[ing] again in freedom in the Garden of the Lord,” neither do they “walk behind the plowshare” nor “put away the sword.” Instead, they’re still behind a barricade. This one’s just bigger!

    I would have much rather seen Fantine and Valjean emerge from the convent and walk past the revolutionaries’ barricade, where they are joined by the deceased students and soldiers, as well as other figures (the Bishop, for instance), with whom they pass through the streets of Paris (until they reach the some green place). My favorite part of the musical, and the movie botched by not only preserving the “same sociality” among the characters but my maintaining the unjust context of thelat sociality.

  32. #31 haycockm – I totally forgot about how much I hated the big barricade. You are so completely right. The worst part of it is how every single trailer I saw used the huge barricade, so I kept waiting for them to build the big one. Trailers using post-climax scenes is a huge pet peeve of mine. And while it looks cool–it does not serve a purpose.

  33. Funny, the big barricade scene was my very favorite part of the whole movie. The movie made it clear that the revolution failed because the Parisians did not come to the barricade. So I loved how they ended with film with everyone coming to the barricade, supporting the cause. In a perfect world everyone would come. Loved it.

  34. haycockm, part of the point of the movie was that righteousness involves bringing about justice for the downtrodden through love and service, and that that is at the core of Christian living. The process of being “at the barricade,” of rendering service to others, isn’t some burden that we can’t wait to toss off our shoulders just outside the pearly gates, where a bunch of servants wait to give us massages and pedicures on the other side. That’s about the least Mormon vision of heaven I can imagine–that we cease active righteous doing once we’ve attained our cheap grace, and after that it’s what?–green pastures and harp music and 40 virgins? No, in Mormon heaven we return with zeal to the barricade. We serve as missionaries in spirit prison, we shepherd new worlds full of people into reaching their potential.

  35. Steve Fleming has it just right.

    Sharee, I have to disagree about Crowe.It wasn’t just his singing that seemed off to me, it was his whole performance. By playing Javert with one expression throughout the whole movie, he gave no subtelty or nuance to the character. There have been many who have played that character much better, including most notably Norm Lewis in the 25th Anniversary Concert.

  36. John Roberts says:

    Go to LDS.org and search for “Victor Hugo”. You will find several quotations in General Conference from Victor Hugo- including a couple of references from Les Miserables (the book).

  37. I never said anything abou massages and pedicures, or forgoing service! I meant more that past death there would be no need for nationalism, for revolution, for fighting or antagonism; the old divisions between the classes and parties would disappear. But that wasn’t the case; there were no soldiers behind the new barricade, unless now they were dressed as commoners. The missionaries in spirit paradise aren’t fomenting popular revolt to cast down those in spirit prison, waiting for a bunch of neutral people to join their cause; the war was won. There is no need of a barricade, but instead they can cross it, deconstruct it, and begin ministering to the people on the other side.

    If we really wanted a Mormon heaven (something I would love seeing, instead of a Catholic heaven that picks and chooses beforehand who can come into it – where Javert would not appear), we would have Valjean and Fantine (having crossed the barricade) walking through the streets of the paradisaical Paris. They find Javert, lost in his own thoughts. As the chorus reaches “tomorrow comes,” Valjean taps him on the shoulder and Javert turns to see an extended hand. The scene cuts before we see his reaction. That’s the ending that would have satisfied me 100%, but would never be made because it would entail Mormonizing the story very explicitly.

    Your interpretation – that the revolution is a symbol of service – does cause me to mind it less. It does still annoy me, though, that there is a barricade, and one that is larger: it keeps people out of the servicial paradise and bespeaks antagonism. Plus, maybe it’s just something with me, but I’d like to think that there won’t be flag-waving in the spirit world. Lol.

  38. So, in short, if we’re not to have a Mormon heaven, we might as well have harps and pastures and the Book of Revelation. I amend my first comment, though; I put in “green place” as the destination of their march because I could think of nothing else that would satisfy. However, the absence of Javert in the ending irked me, and making meeting him the climax of the finale would make thematic sense and Mormon sense, and would be my preferred ending.

  39. Maybe not in Hugo’s Catholicism, but certainly in the modern catechism (2283) there is room for Javert in heaven, Mormon or no. “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”

    Regardless, haycockm, I think as an artistic choice, the barricade was a good one; as a theological symbol, I think Cynthia’s argument is sound.

  40. The cause of the revolutionaries and the message of the story very much reminded me of Either 12:4 “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” In the Liam Neeson version (haven’t read the book) the revolutionaries wanted the vote by which they hoped to improve the lives of the poor. Seems like a pretty reasonable demand.

    President Hinckley said that we should not only raise our children to be good people but that we should raise them to want to make the world a better place. Advocating to societal improvement is a good and holy cause (poignant on MLK Day). Of course, most revolutions cause little improvement, but the movie suggested a kind of great and true revolution in heaven that would truly succeed. Yes, we can get beyond the barricade but first we must “join in our crusade.” We need to love and advocate for our brothers and sisters, and, historically speaking, the weak have long been oppressed by the powerful. It’s a major message of the Book of Mormon. So the revolutionaries may have failed in this life (as did Either), but like Either, they hoped for a better world and eventually had a place at the right hand of God.

    Again, my favorite part of the movie.

  41. Well said, Steve Fleming. Part of my rush to defend the barricade scene is that I think our Mormon cultural tendency to think that holiness and any kind of “contention” are mutually exclusive is unfortunate and I don’t agree with it. Stirring up fear and divisiveness (*cough*right wing paranoia about FEMA camps etc etc*cough*) is certainly wrong and harmful, but I think that’s largely because the fears that are stoked are lies and tend to cause hatred. I agree with the examples you gave showing that real injustice against the powerless is something that can’t be righteously ignored or brushed under the rug for the sake of “avoiding contention.”

  42. Oops, I mean Ether! (World’s worst speller). Thanks Cynthia, good points.

  43. Odd that I would be read as advancing the idea that “holiness = lack of contention,” as that’s often the thing that I push against! I’m just reticent to equate political goals (of any ideological bent) with heavenly ones. The hope for a better world, sure; a return to the idealistic France the Revolution sought to create… not as much (even if parts of their vision included serving and advocating for the poor, with which parts I obviously have no qualms). The heaven of the finale only appeared different from the hell of the rest of the movie in degree: bigger barricade, more people behind it. I would have appreciated a difference in kind: there still would be conflict, but this time with the authority structures reversed. Valjean, Fantine, an the other blessed dead set out to redeem and convert those who had not, in life, joined in their crusade. It’s no longer a crusade for a new political system, but a crusade for the hearts and minds of fellow men and women.

    And I wasn’t even thinking of suicides being excluded from Catholic heaven; I was thinking of Javert being excluded because of his rejection of the power of grace, or at least a degree of moral ambiguity about him (without resolving that moral ambiguity somehow, showing him in heaven at the end would muddle the message).

  44. Politics is important. DC 134. Much better to live under a just regime than a tyrannical one. The Book of Mormon says that over and over. God cares about these things. Advocating for the rights of the poor to vote hardly seems like a narrow political agenda.

  45. I’m not saying politics aren’t important; far from it! Politics is eminently important to God and man in that it plays a huge role in human life.

    I’m just saying that most of the questions of policy on Earth will, I believe, be irrelevant in heaven (or the spirit world). Will we have separation of church and state in the spirit world? Will people be advocating for human rights there? Will there be poor? Will there be tyrannical regimes to rebel against?

  46. I saw the barricade scene as the fulfillment of that vision, when the retched of the earth would be blessed. I can see how it could be interpreted differently though.

  47. haycock, i think you’re taking the barricade scene way too literally.

  48. Perhaps I am, lol.

  49. Don’t worry, haycockm, we won’t ban you for hating the barricade scene. If anyone wants to say a single word against Magic Flute they should prepare to meet their blog maker tho.

  50. Nice quote for the day, relevant to the heavenly barricade discussion:

    Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

    (Letter from Birmingham Jail)

  51. I posted this elsewhere, but it’s in moderation there and I’m not sure it will get through:

    I liked what Matthew Holland said about the movie at Deseret News. Full disclosure–his brother was once a member of my bishopric and a person I know to be a great guy, and his father’s a hero of mine, so my view of his article may be a bit biased.


    Here’s my favorite part:

    More than a tribute to a patriotic defense of national liberties, as noble as such might be, both movies ascend to something even more sublime. Perhaps the greatest thrust of each show is an homage to men and women who suffered great human cruelty — the gross injustices of a heartless judicial system (Jean Valjean), the constant bombardment of self-righteous recriminations by friends, family and enemies alike (Lincoln), and the dagger-like wounds of unrequited love (Eponine) — yet still stepped forward in near miraculous fashion “with malice toward none” and actively blessed those that cursed them.

    In doing so, these two movies take us somewhere truly transcendent. And, in response, we, as a nation, fill the theaters and cry and clap and come back for second showings.

    As long as this is the case, as long as the chords of liberty and charity are intertwined with each other and strike the chambers of enough of our hearts with resonance and power, there remains a bright hope for this great country of ours, whatever our shortcomings and differences might be.

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