A parole violator in early 19th Century France is relentlessly pursued and persecuted by an obsessive policeman.
After stealing a loaf a bread to feed a starving family, Jean Valjean is sentenced to ten years at hard labor as a galley slave. There he is taught to read and write by another prisoner and meets Javert, an obsessive policeman who was himself born to convict parents aboard a prison ship. After his release, Valjean is treated as a pariah but finally finds shelter in the home of a kindly bishop. Valjean repays the clergyman's generosity by stealing his silver plate. He is apprehended by the authorities and returned to the bishop but is amazed when the kindly old priest tells them that the valuable plates were a gift. This becomes a transforming experience for the ex-convict, who establishes himself under an assumed name in a small country village as factory manager and ultimately mayor. Unfortunately the newly-promoted Javert is assigned there as chief inspector. Although he doesn't recognize his old nemesis at first, the two clash over Javert's overzealous prosecution of the letter of the law. When a mentally challenged homeless man is arrested and accused of being Valjean, the conscience-ridden parole violator reveals his true identity to the court and the already suspicious Javert. Valjean is forced to abandon his property and with his adopted daughter again flee the relentless pursuit of Javert.
Jean Valjean, a Frenchman of good character, has nevertheless been convicted for the minor crime of stealing bread. A minor infraction leads to his pursuit by the relentless policeman Javert, a pursuit that consumes both men's lives for many years.
—Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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