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What's the most political film of the year?

Django Unchained, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty?

I say it is no other than the film adaptation of the musical Les Miserables.

Victor Hugo's classic novel is all about class warfare in 19th Century France climaxing with the 1832 Paris Uprising of leftist philosophy students.

Les Miserables, the musical, was likely never intended as a call to revolution.  It was written in the 1980s, and in many ways is tailored as an appeal to bourgeois moral outrage.  More of a “look what could happen if things aren’t made a bit better” than a “this is a way to make things better.”

But 2012 is not 1985.  Between Les Miserables this year, and The Hunger Games last year, popular culture reflects the changing times.  True, Les Miserables is older, but the investment in a movie reflects a belief that it will make money, which requires more people to see it that those who could afford theater tickets to see the show live.  It has reached a new level of mainstream in popular culture. And I find it hard to believe that the workers in Michigan who stood up to police batons and horses, the Chicago retail workers who blocked Michigan avenue last week to demand a minimum wage, the people who have been organizing against the racist injustice system will only take from this story a message of moral outrage.

Originally posted to aaraujo on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:08 PM PST.

Also republished by Les Miserables.


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