22 March 2005 | philip_vanderveken
An enjoyable, honest and serious series
I'm not a big fan of costume drama's and the actor Gérard Depardieu. Normally that should have been enough reasons for me not to watch this series. On the other hand, the novel is a classic in literature and this time it isn't the tale of some rich princesses who have broken a finger nail and want to commit suicide because of that. This is about ordinary people and their efforts to survive and to make the best out of their miserable situations. Anyway, I decided to give this series a chance and I'm glad that I did, because it was a lot better than I ever expected.
It tells the story of Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food and who is now released after serving nineteen years in a labor camp. At first he's avoided by everybody, because he once was in jail, but than he meets Bishop Bienvenu, who gives him shelter for the night and something to eat without asking something in return. The bishop's compassion and humanity restore Jean Valjean's faith in the goodness of people and helps him to go back to an orderly life. He changes his name to Monsieur Madeleine and soon becomes a wealthy industrialist who's a popular citizen. He even becomes the mayor of the small provincial town where he lives. In the meantime he has also met one of his workers, Fantine, who was fired from his factory because she had a child. He saves Fantine's daughter out of the hands of a mean family and raises her like his own daughter. But not everybody believes he is such a good, loving and caring man. Javert is a police officer who has made of hunting Valjean like a wild animal his main occupation. He's convinced that every man who once was a criminal, will always be a criminal and he'll do anything to get him behind bars again...
This series should not only be seen by the people who once read the book or saw the musical. I haven't read the book and I didn't see the musical either, but I certainly could enjoy this series. I guess everybody who has at least a bit of interest the hardness of 19th-century life for the ordinary people will enjoy this. Another reason why you could enjoy it is because of the good and convincing acting by all the characters. As I already said before in this review, I'm not a fan of Depardieu, but it has to be said: He was very convincing in his role as Jean Valjean.
All in all this is an enjoyable, honest and serious series that is worth watching when you are interested in the story. Personally I liked what I saw and that's why I give this series a 7.5/10.