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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > May 2015 > The Reel Story: Les Mis

The Reel Story: Les Mis

Jonny Wilkes uncovers the real disastrous rebellion that inspired the enduring musical

THE REEL STORY LES MISÉRABLES

Who were les Misérables?

The plight of Jean Valjean, the tragedy of Fantine and the enduring love of Marius and Cosette are well-trodden, and well-loved, stories. ere have been film, television and radio productions based on Victor Hugo’s sprawling and richly illustrated epic 1862 novel, Les Misérables, as well as the world-famous stage musical.

Since the curtains were first raised in 1980, blockbuster creations of Les Mis have played in the best theatres from Broadway to the West End, telling the all-singing narrative of literary hero, and spirit of human redemption, Jean Valjean. A released convict, he breaks his parole to start a new life, only to find himself entangled in the misery and political instability of 19th-century Paris. It was just a matter of time before the musical was transferred to the silver screen, and the biggest adaption came in 2012 with Tom Hooper’s star-laden, award-winning and acclaimed hit.

While the plot and characters are the invention of Hugo, at the core of Les Mis is a real event, the June Rebellion of 1832. It is commonly mistaken to take place during the French Revolution, but the manning of the barricades seen in Les Mis is 40 years after King Louis XVI lost his head.

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The May 2015 issue of History Revealed
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