Les Miserables and the message of Jesus

Les Miserables and the message of Jesus

I don’t go to the cinema that often, but in the last month my wife and I have been twice and we intend to go at least once more to see the film, Lincoln, which has just been released.

The first visit was to see The Hobbit, the first part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on Tolkein’s book, which I read a number of years ago. The film was big on special effects retelling the epic story which at its heart is the struggle between good and evil. It was dramatically presented as you would expect and it was a few hours of escapist drama which I enjoyed but its impact on me was limited.

The second film that we saw a couple of days ago was Les Miserables and I am still pondering its storyline and the power of its presentation. I have not seen the musical and though I knew the historical setting of Victor Hugo’s book I didn’t know any details so I came to the film afresh. The powerful themes that emerged for me are those that Hugo himself describes towards the end of the book, “a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, … from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God.”

The film ends with a reprise of the song “Do you hear the people sing…” which finishes with a crescendo of the proclamation “There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!” Those words had a powerful echo with the reading from Luke’s gospel used on the last Sunday in January. Jesus is in his home town synagogue at Nazareth and he reads words from the prophet Isaiah which tells of being sent to bring good news to the poor and to proclaim release to the captives. When he has finished speaking he says “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus in effect declares that “tomorrow has come, your life can start, you are set free and this hope is for all”. It is a truly liberating message for all of us to hear wherever we are. Happy New Year

Revd Phil Taylor

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