Reflected in the pools of blood and demonstrated
by the ringing gunshots throughout the movie, “Les Misèrables” is the long and
tattered history of the French people and their fight against their monarchy.
is a French
first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels
of the 19th century. It has been
popularized through numerous adaptations for the stage, television and film,
including a musical
and a 2012 film version
of that musical.
Misèrables,” has finished its run at Fulton Cinema, but can be seen through
Thursday at Hollywood Stadium 14 in Columbia. Show times are 12:30 p.m., 4:25
p.m. and 8 p.m.
William Woods University, Dr. Shawn Hull, associate professor of history, recounted
the events surrounding “Les Misèrables” and the facts of the story itself.
this,” he said, “was that I was deeply unsettled because I didn’t
know when the story took place.”
and social sciences division, originally believed the story to have taken place
during the revolution of 1830, when in fact the movie cites it as taking place
during the revolution of 1832.
was awash with revolutions from about 1789, when the famous French Revolution
began, until 1848, when Napoleon the Third came to power.
revolve around the failures of each revolution, but the heart of the
going on in France. Why do people keep having revolutions?” Hull asked at
the beginning of the presentation. The silence of the audience is deafening, and
after a moment he replies, “Liberty, equality and fraternity.”
sense of nationalism, or the brotherhood of mankind.
a painting by Eugène Delacroix, during the presentation as an example of these
concepts and their popularity among the French people at the time.
is a woman adorned in tattered clothing and grasping the French revolutionary
flag. Hull described her as a “metaphoric figure … much like the Statue
of Liberty.” This powerful painting depicts the events of the revolutions
of 1830, but could have depicted a number of scenes from that troubled era.
after the reign of Louis the XIV, whose economic troubles and the resulting
unhappiness of the French people led to his beheading in 1793.
characterized by gruesome deaths and haphazard politics until 1815, when most
of the crowned heads of Europe attempted to regain their thrones.
perhaps, these nobles ignored the French Revolution and attempted to carry on
as though it had never happened. Nevertheless, the unease of the people,
coupled with the rise of industrialization, made Europe into what Hull
described as a “bubbling cauldron” on the brink of explosion.
had been building in France finally exploded, resulting in a revolution that
lasted only a few days and caused the abdication of Charles X, who had come to
power in 1824. This marked a shift in power from a constitutional monarchy to a
liberal constitutional monarchy, ruled by Louis Philippe.
their lives on the barricades, the politicians did not really trust them,”
said Hull, explaining that the country’s previous bad experiences with
democracy left its leaders suspicious.
where much of “Les Misèrables” takes place, were filled with a sense of
revolution had been stolen from them,” explained Hull.
will see not only a portrayal of the Revolution of 1832, but also a depiction
of the sewers in Paris during the period. These are more important scenes than
many observers realize.
by an outbreak of cholera, during which 18,000 people died. Cholera, a disease
transmitted through fecal matter, causes its victims to “lose all of their
bodily fluids and shrivel up like raisins,” Hull said. It was rampant
throughout Europe in the 1830s.
But this revolution was different and resulted in the successful election of
Napoleon III, whose famous uncle conquered a large portion of Europe.
a coup and declared himself “President for Life.” Despite this, Napoleon III
proved to be a successful leader, partially because of Haussmannization, which
was essentially a reordering of the city.