Give Your Life or Choose to Die: Eponine and Javier in Les Miserables

les miserables

I just got back from the movie Les Miserables – my first movie theater experience in about 20 years.  All I can say is – it was worth the wait.

But I will say more… probably several posts worth.  First, let me caution you that if you are planning to see the movie (and I recommend you do), see it before you read this review.  That said…

Today, I want to focus on the lives and deaths of two characters in the film – Eponine (the inn keeper’s daughter) and Javier (the policeman).

Eponine grows up in the household of unscrupulous parents who favor her over Colette (“I mean Cosette.” – as the inn keeper would say).  She sees their greed as they rob, cheat, and steal even a a randy Santa Claus from his goods (including his pants).  As they fall on harder times, as does most of France, they are still only looking out for themselves.  To the end of the movie, they sing out their selfish creed as they are carried away from crashing a wedding.

Yet, in spite of her skewed upbringing, Eponine manages to develop strong values.  Though she falls in love the handsome and brave Marius, she consents to show him the way to Cosette when she sees this is his heart’s desire.  Though she could have become embittered at only seeing love from a distance, she channels her rage to fight for the freedom of her people.  In the end, she gives Marius Cosette’s love note, making their union possible.  As her reward, she is able to die in his arms, as he declares love for her as well.

Eponine lives a virtuous, self-less life.   She gives her life for her love, and for people.

Javier, on the other hand, lives for vengeance.  We first see him overseeing prisoners as they are treated like slaves.  Though he hands Jean Valjean his parole papers, he tells Valjean that he will  never pay for his crime (of stealing bread to feed his sister’s son).  Javier represents the dark side of merciless law that favors the punishment of death-in-life rather than make room for forgiveness and grace.

Fast forward to the revolution.  Javier is a prisoner of the revolutionaries, being caught as a spy.  Jean Valjean is given the opportunity to kill him for his crime.  Instead, he cuts Javier loose and grants his pardon.  This confuses Javier.  In fact, it causes him to question his existence.  Not long later, when the tables are turned and Javier lets Jean Valjean escape, Javier can’t bear to live with his identity confusion.  The world can not contain both Valjean and Javier (mercy and vengeance), he sings.  He chooses to kill himself rather than to live by grace.

Death is something none of us can escape.  But we do have a choice.  We can live by grace, and do what is good and right and loving, as Eponine does.  Or we can die clinging to a perverted sense of human injustice that can never measure up, as Javier does.

Give your life or choose to die.  Which will you do?

(image “At the Movies – Les Miserables” from erjkprunczýk, some rights reserved)

Five Favorite Movies for the Christmas Season

watching movie

First, a disclaimer…

The last time I went to a movie theater was to see “The Lion King” in its first run.  Not only do I not have movie channels, I haven’t owned a TV in over 20 years.  When I recently moved out on my own, I got a trial subscription to “Amazon Prime.”   But, instead of watching movies, I watched the first 3 seasons of “My Name is Earl”.

Still, I say even a widowed octogenarian can write a review of great sex (even if it’s been years).  It doesn’t have to be the latest to be the greatest.

Another thing, I decided to include both movies that are about Christmas or have Christmas scenes in them as well as movies that convey Christ-like themes and have an overall inspirational component to them.

One the nice things about this list is you won’t find anything new.  You won’t have to bundle up and shell out $10 at a theater (minus the popcorn).  You won’t find any new releases you have to wait for (and pay more for) at the video store.  If Netflix and Amazon can learn to work together, you can get a free trial subscription to either of them and stream these for free.

So, here goes, in no particular order…

A Christmas Story – The endearing tale of Ralphie and his longing for a treasured “Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun”.  It’s a fun-filled timeless treasure for imperfect families (like yours) to watch together.

Simon Birch (loosely based on John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany).  The story of one special boy and how he persistently and methodically discovers and carries out God’s purpose for his life.  Simon is no saint, however.  His hormones get the better of him in the hilarious Christmas pageant scene that literally brings the house down.

Tender Mercies – As the movie opens we see Mac Sledge (played by Robert Duvall) hit rock bottom.  We then follow his path toward redemption, one step at a time.  Nothing preachy, here, just the good news in real life.

The Mission – Robert Deniro and Jeremy Irons play a mercenary and a missionary (respectively) who, after a dramatic conversion encounter, wind up working together for the good of a remote South American Indian tribe.  Ultimately, however, they must decide how to battle forces beyond their control.

I Confess – In this lesser-known Hitchcock film, Montgomery Cliff plays a young priest who chooses to face trial for murder rather than break the sanctity of the confessional.

How about you? What are some of your favorites I might check out this holiday season?  I still have a little time on my free trial!

(photo “Watching Movie” pinpricksome rights reserved)

*****

– Introduction to “The 12 Posts of  Christmas

– In the first post of Christmas, I truly gave to you…. “God is With Us (a Christmas Story based on Matthew 1.18-2.12)

– In the second post of Christmas, I truly gave to you… “Assaulting a Felon with a Fruitcake.”

– In the third post of Christmas, I truly gave to you… “Some of the Best Christmas Blog Posts for 2012

– In the fourth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you… “I Wonder as I Wander

– In the fifth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Be More Like a Child at Christmas (and beyond)

– In the seventh post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “From India to Indiana: My New E-Pal

– In the eighth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “What Sam Found in His Backpack After Break (A Prompted Poem)

– In the ninth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “The Precise Dilemma: A Book Review

– In the tenth post of Christmas, I truly gave to you – “Potentially Praiseworthy Poems Posted on WordPress