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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this all-star version of Les Miserables is an adaptation of the world-famous stage musical, which itself is based on Victor Hugo's classic 1862 novel. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway star in the gritty, often-heartbreaking tale of justice, duty, love, and revolution. The film deals with abject poverty, prostitution, imprisonment, corruption, war, and death; all of which fans of the musical will be expecting -- but bringing the story to the screen means it has a much more realistic feel (despite the fact that the actors sing virtually all of the dialogue). Characters suffer painful beatings, degrade themselves out of desperation, engage in gun and bayonet fights, claw their way through unspeakable filth, and more. Expect some bawdy lyrics/references (with a sprinkling of curse words, including one "s--t"), a very sad scene in which an unwilling prostitute "entertains" a client, plenty of cleavage, some blood, and a few very sad deaths (including one suicide). But ultimately, Les Miserables is about the redemptive power of love and faith, and there are many moments of hope and beauty amid the miserable ones.
  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What is it saying about faith and love? About justice and duty? Why is Javert so determined to take Valjean back to prison? Valjean clearly becomes a noble person, even though he's also a fugitive and a lawbreaker. Does he deserve to go to back to jail, as the law requires?
  • Why are the students so passionate about their cause? Do you agree with them that it's one worth dying for? Have you ever felt that strongly about anything?
  • How well do film actors perform in a movie that requires them to sing almost every line of dialogue? Why do you think filmmakers cast mostly movie stars instead of veteran stage actors?
  • For fans of the stage musical -- which version do you prefer, and why? What was changed? What was missing -- or added? Why do you think the filmmakers made the changes they did?
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