The movie is decent, however, it is nothing compared to the book. (Editor's Note: I am talking about the Unabridged Version of the novel.) The book is amazing and has so many more details, plot twists, and character developments. The book contains so much information about every thing that it makes the story so into a huge, sweeping, epic. Reading it is not like reading about some one's life, it is more like becoming Jean Valjean yourself. It just such a grand story, covering nearly 60 years of the main character's life. The story itself* is fast paced and you quickly get into the all the characters. I am a slow reader and yet I would devour 50 pages of the story on my lunch break and be hungry for more.
I was enthralled by the story because of it's richness. But I think I identified with it differently than most people. Although I liked and respected the character Jean Valjean, I really identified more with the police officer, Javert. I related to his obsessiveness, to his black and white world view (either something is legal or illegal, there is no gray), and to his morally superior attitude. I think I have changed a lot since then and am more flexible in my thinking. However when I first read Les Mis, I agreed with Javert. Although Valjean was acting for the good of the people around him in most cases, he was still acting illegally and that needed to be remedied by a court or it didn't really count. At this time, I was getting ready to study criminology and had a pretty black and white view of the world on many things. I could see why Javert's moral situation could lead him to drastic action in the end. That is one thing that drew me even further into the story...by being the good guy, the law abiding citizen, the person who follows all rules; Javert was somehow the villain in the story.
I think Les Miserable is an incredible novel and I would suggest it to anyone looking for a good read on the trials and tribulations of the human spirit and overcoming all for the ones you love. However, I would highly recommend going with the abridged version (I'll explain tomorrow). In fact, just hearing parts of the movie almost make me want to pick up the book and start all over again.
*See tomorrow's Two Minute Hate on the book's downfalls.