Many forget that Les Misérables was originally a book written by Victor Hugo in 1862 and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of all time. However, the popularity of the long running Broadway show and the recent popularity of the Golden Globe nominated and probably Oscar nominated film has brought this French Revolution based story to its height of popularity.
While the tale is centered mainly around Jean Valjean’s (played by Hugh Jackman in the 2012 film) quest for redemption, I would argue that there is an underlying message on the importance of home especially in the recent cinematic adaptation directed by Tom Hooper.
For starters take a look at the blatant or implied references to home in just the song titles from Les Misérables. You have the classic Castle on a Cloud and everyone knows a home is your castle. Then there’s At the End of the Day which is sung by those slaving away in the prison and can only dream that there’s a place to rest their head after work is done. Then you’ve got Master of the House which is a self-absorbent tune about how one runs the place where they reside. Bring Him Home is about the safe return of a boy sent out to battle and is something every home with military members in it can relate to.
You may think the relation to home in some of the songs might be a stretch, but consider the multiple story lines. The entire book/play/movies is about the French Revolution where the people are fighting for the place they call home and what their idea of that place should be. Valjean is constantly seeking a place to call home and desires to provide that place for Cosette. In fact, Valjean’s last request to Javier is to allow him to return home before he turns himself in. You also have the home of Marius, Bishop Myriel and of course the residence of the corrupt Thénardiers which are all central places in the story.
Throughout Les Misérables you encounter different people with different views of home. Some are good and others not so good. But I believe the idea of home is very central to the tale Victor Hugo weaved nearly two centuries ago.
Do you agree? Do you think there’s another musical that deals with the concept of home better? Let us know in the comments.