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« Challenge: We Are Irrelevant | Main | Most Cops Know That A Healthy Fear of Punishment Is… Healthy! »

January 01, 2013


Great post, J. Warner Wallace. I loved this part:

"Like Javert, we would rather die than admit we are just like everyone else: fallen, imperfect and in need of a Savior. The grace of God requires us to see ourselves for who we are, admit that we are just like everyone else, relinquish the control of our own salvation and admit that our value is found in God alone."

Seen the film several times now. Mesmerized by grace!

There recently was a White Horse Inn program on the meanings behind the storyline that I recommend, an informative 30 minute listen.

One thing I feel compelled to note is that in this statement:

"As Christians, we are islands of “grace” in a sea of “works”. Christianity is the one worldview that is not merit-based. All other religions provide a set of rules that must be followed if an adherent wants to be saved or have value in the context of his or her faith."

One important word was left out--that word Protestant--as in "Protestant Christianity". The Roman communion, although called grace based, is not without its system of merit. It is another gospel.

Excellent synopsis. Our adult, youngest daughter, gave all of us tickets to see the movie on Christmas Day. It was a real treat.

Years ago we saw the stage musical multiple times, taking our three daughters at various ages. Each of the three had the musical score memorized, and it became a bit of a problem when they would start singing out loud with the performers! We got some annoyed looks from other audience members.

I preferred the stage play simply because the "warts" in and on everyone in the movie were too up close. Also, I thought they sacrificed the quality of the voices of the main characters to buy the big names. But, still, it was a great movie.

Great post! We saw the film early on Christmas day and we all thought it was a perfect film for Christmas.

Myriel's gentle, generous, and gracious mercy is so unbelievable. The immediacy of his response also astounds me and I love how they depicted the stunned looks of the nuns in the film. How often do I believe that God's grace is somehow begrudingly given rather than the immediately responsive outcome of his character? That scene (among many) was beautifully done.

bs. it's a trashy show kids should not watch it.

sorry for the "b.s." remark. I repent of that. Sick boy on meds fighting flu with a sin excuse however. Let me restate...this show is not for children

Mark -- I agree, it's not for children. I went with my mother and my 15-yo niece and I wondered a little about its appropriateness for my niece. It has some pretty harsh elements in it, including scenes that deal with prostitution, promiscuity, drunkenness and lewd behavior. Overall, though, I found it a worthwhile film -- the elements previously mentioned are not praised. They are presented as base and tragic and part of what the protagonists yearn to escape.

It is rated PG-13 and I would encourage parents to make an educated decision about whether or not it is something they would want their kids to see. The non-musical film with Liam Neesom is also quite good. I can't recall how those elements were dealt with, though. It is also PG-13.

I hope your boy feels better soon.

@ Mark -

No, it's not a trashy show. No one claimed it was for children. Sin is ugly. It's a rare thing to see it presented that way in Hollywood.


Wonderful review, and it puts into words truly what I love most about this story. Every time I see it or hear the music, the character of Javert breaks my heart even more.

Great post. I loved this film. I think you nailed the contrast of these two men in the movie. I loved the use of the music and lyrics which helped to draw out the very different reactions Valjean and Javert had to the act of grace shown them.

The effect that Myriel's act of grace had on Jean Valjean was to bring him to his knees, broken. His expression was utter repentance when he sings:
I am reaching, but I fall
And the night is closing in
And I stare into the void
To the whirlpool of my sin
I'll escape now from the world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin!

And even though he wants to leave his old "self" and does in a sense, through forgiveness, later in the film he has to face the still-present consequences of his sin through encounters with Javert and when someone else is about to go to jail in his place and when his daughter is getting married. Even through these encounters, he is an "island of grace" and does what is right.

In contrast, with the same song, different lyrics, Javert sings:
I am reaching but I fall
And the stars are black and cold
As I stare into the void
Of a world that cannot hold
I'll escape now from that world
From the world of Jean Valjean.
There is nowhere I can turn
There is now way to go on...

He doesn't stare into his sin, he cannot reconcile that act of grace with the letter of the law, so he'd rather die than accept it.

Javert serves as a warning to us all --self-righteousness prevents brokenness, and it's only through brokenness that we're restored.

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