Comments about ‘Matthew Holland: 'Les Miserables,' 'Lincoln' offer pictures of hope’

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Published: Sunday, Jan. 6 2013 11:00 a.m. MST

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John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

Shame on the DNews for printing this so-called opinion piece that glorifies two movies which are full of objectionable material and falsified history. What is even worse is that this piece uses these subversive movies as a reason for having hope in America's future. This is a surprisingly left-wing stance for this paper to take.

This opinion piece ignores the fact that Les Mis is full of trashy material like violence, rape, and child abuse. There is absolutely nothing uplifting about watching this kind of filth. It is not worth subjecting oneself to this material, simply because it contains a minor message about forgiveness at the end.

As for the modernist, revisionist, leftist depiction of Lincoln, it is little better. This movie portrays one of America's greatest heros as little more than a corrupt humorist who saw nothing wrong with outright bribery. This makes a mockery of Lincoln's historically provoen traits of honesty and integrity.

We cannot ignore the fact that any movie contains harmful material, simply because is it mildly entertaining. Indeed, the fact that so many are doing so is reason for despondency and despair, not hope for the future.

John20000
Cedar Hills, UT

Les Miserables the play - awesome. Les Miserables the movie - miserable. The director minimizes scenes of hope and especially those that focus on relationship to God and maximizes to the extreme the raw misery of the characters as well as focusing on graphically portraying disturbing and raunchy activities.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

Oh my, films that don't lift you up with spoon fed happiness, how dare they not film through rose colored glasses.

John Charity Spring, now I know you were there when these events actually happend, but maybe the sun was in your eye's.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Spielberg's Lincoln is the first successful cinematic effort I've seen to salvage the grittier truth about the 16th President from the sanctified air in which he has been embalmed for a century and a half in American iconography. The historic Abraham Lincoln was not above horse trading for votes and he did his share of it. He shrewdly steered clear of ending slavery until his historic 180 reversal of Aministration policy. What history knows as the Emancipation Proclamation is what the news media of today would call a flip-flop.

It was indeed a flip-flop, as well as the definitive example of Presidential leadership at its finest.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I think MOST educated people know that Les Miserables was a fictional book in the first place loosely based on the June Rebellion of 1832 in France. General LeMarque is the only real person in Hugo's book, the rest of them were guess what, MADE UP!

Of course Hugo's description of life in France at that time was probably reasonably accurate. As for Lincoln, I haven't seen that movie yet but I figure it will be somewhat based on true facts, some on speculation, with some hollywood moments. But is the spirit of the movie true, probably...

eastcoastcoug
Danbury, CT

@Mr. "Charity",

I feel sorry for you that you are unable to see the redeeming qualities in stories like "Lincoln" and "Les Miz". Stories that depict real people dealing with incredibly difficult situations - life situations that are real - and managing to find ways to live their values in a kind and generous way, despite being shamefully treated.

btw, the Gospels in the New Testament are full of adulterers being taken in the act, acts of violence, etc., where Jesus shows his unconditional love and helps heal them. I encourage you to listen to the invitation to love others, pray for your enemies, etc. and find the good in others.

pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

I've seen Linclon and Django and one of the enlightments that comes from both of these films is the reminder..using..and paraphrasing, John Charity Springs words..we ignore the fact that.. American history is full of trashy material like violence, rape, and child abuse. There is absolutely nothing uplifting about.. denying this kind of filth is our history. It seems strange to me that when reminded about the carnage and sheer immorality of the civil war, you get upset when you see the genius of Lincoln who had the courage and intelligence to not only end the war but end the "violence, rape, and child abuse" of slavery ( depictided in Django) at the same time through horse trading (pork) techniques.

This also begs the question is the graphic gun violence worse than the graphic reminder of the violence, rape, and child abuse of slavery in a movie like Django?

John20000
Cedar Hills, UT

Movies are powerful (like vicarious experiences, if done well). Every storyteller can emphasize or de-emphasize scenes, themes, activities, etc. of the same story. Every movie can be directed in different ways to produce a G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, or X rating. Yes, every story can. Every story can graphically portray filth, violence, sex, etc. or not graphically portray them. Directors, as artists, make the decisions that determine what the audience will pay attention to.

The director of the recent Les Miserables movie made decisions that made me like that version of the story less than the Broadway version of the story. I won't watch it again and wish I hadn't seen it.

Suburbs of SLC
Cottonwood Heights, UT

"Every story can graphically portray filth, violence, sex, etc. or not graphically portray them."

That statement, as well as your dislike of a film with a graphic route, is absolutely fair. What I find unfortunate is that portraying something 'graphically' is often equated with glorification. I found the director wise in portraying, "the raw misery of the characters," since that is the point of the novel: The Miserable Ones. The original is not particularly happy, and unlike the musical's portrayal of the many dead characters singing happily in heaven, the novel closes with only subtle references to angels smiling down on Jean Valjean as he dies. The novel is fundamentally optimistic, but only because Hugo wrote it from a future in which some level of political change had occurred.

I agree with the editorial, Les Mis is hopeful. But there is a great difference between hoping for the future because we wear rose-colored glasses when we look at the world around us, versus hoping for the future because, having acknowledged and witnessed the miseries that do exist around us, we find ourselves more motivated to improve the futures of those who cannot improve their situations themselves.

Screwdriver
Casa Grande, AZ

Les Miserables is about hope and redemption through faith in God. It explores the need for mercy with the letter of the law. I like the story.

I would think that's right up a conservatives' way of thinking.

But I agree, the movie was kind of bad. Mostly from over reaching in the "oscar" acting and actors that can't actually sing. Ann Hathaway sings pretty good though.

Liam Neeson's verson is pretty good - not a musical :)

joseywales
Park City, UT

Johncharityspring- I'm guessing you wouldn't want a film maker to make a "true" version of the Book of Mormon, or stories of the Pioneers. Mountain Meadows? There is carnage all over that book, same with the bible. I guess in your world you just want to sit back and believe it never happened huh?

I actually remember reading a story a few years ago from Redford talking about Porter Rockwell and how he wanted to make a movie about him, but feared that to do so accurately would offend too many Mormons and fellow Utahns. JCS would blow a fuse!

Y Grad / Y Dad
Richland, WA

I loved the play and I liked the movie. I will see it again, and we will buy the DVD. Guess I was too busy trying to see myself in ValJean and trying not to see myself in Javert to notice all the things herein complained about.

And while Russell Crowe may not have an operatic voice, I thought he portrayed a very compelling character who is too strong on right and wrong and not strong enough on what is good, and the turmoil that can wreak upon the self-righteous when confronted with moral contradictions.

SuziQ
Springville, UT

I did see the movie "Les Mis". While I think the story is a good one, I found the actual portrayal in the movie to rate a D: dark, dreary, depressing, degrading, and at times disgusting. It isn't that I don't understand or appreciate the grit of the story. It is just that for a tale of redemption and hope there appeared to be little offered in this portrayal. I can know about violence and misery without having to see it graphically portrayed. The absolute worst moment for me was when the female character that Anne Hathaway played was having her first prostitute moment. I really didn't need to see the pain on her face, the sigh of satisfaction from the customer, and hear the clink of the money thrown at her to get the picture. Also violence and misery unbalanced with hope and redemption make for a pretty empty feeling at the end. I would have liked to see more moments of hope and redemption instead of guessing that they existed somewhere. They certainly weren't portrayed in the film. Raw and gritty must be balanced by hope to make a good story.

Pete1215
Lafayette, IN

The movie Lincoln was pretty accurate. Politics has always been a blood sport. The great accomplishment in this movie is to make 2.5 hours of essentially political dialog into an interesting movie.

Les Mis (The Miserables) was about a tough and gritty time. Almost everyone dies. I did not find this uplifting, but the cinematography was excellent. This was not a happy time.

CodyCougar
Madison, SD

Leave it to an academic to say with a whole bunch of thesaurus enhanced words what could have a been said in a few . . . in a time of misfortune and growing global acrimony, there are a couple of fairly good movies out there that suggest some redeeming qualities in humanity.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I'm not sure that the movie, musical or book is in line with the conservative or Republican line of thinking. I mean it shows all the trappings of laissez-faire capitalism and lots of it wasn't pretty. Then many of the heroes are these liberal elite university students. Now those type of people drive conservative nuts. All this talk about changing the world. This General LeMarque guy sounds like a modern day Wesley Clark or something. Then there is this Javert character. I mean he stands for the law and knows right from wrong so it seems. He sounds like a Rick Santorum or something and of course he is sort of the villain of the story.

ironmania
San Diego, CA

I have read descriptions of people bringing their young children to see Les Mis, which is rated PG-13 for a reason. Here is a brief snippet from IMDB parental advisory as to why I would not want to subject my children to such filth.

Sex & Nudity

Prostitutes are seen throughout the movie and is a running theme.

Many women (mostly prostitutes) are seen wearing very revealing cleavage.

A woman is raped. The audience only sees this from the neck up. No nudity, but movement is seen

Sexual references are common throughout. Very many statements made by prostitutes talking about their business in some graphic manners.

Men touch prostitutes is sexual ways. In one scenes he reaches under a girl's dress then puts snow down her breasts, but she claws him along the face.

Many conversations about prostitutes

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