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A Modern Twist on a 19th-Century Classic

 

A Modern Twist on a 19th-Century Classic: Les Misérables on MASTERPIECE

April program guide cover story by Jody Shiroma, PBS Hawai‘i

 

The story unfolds with Jean Valjean, a worn-out convict who cannot seem to break free from his life of crime, until a simple act of kindness changes his life for the better as he chooses to “pay it forward” by committing to save a young girl from a life of poverty.

 

Les Misérables: David Oyelowo as Javert, Dominic West as Jean ValjeanWhile you have probably heard of Les Misérables, or have seen the musical or the film of the musical, the dramatic interpretation of this classic novel on MASTERPIECE takes a new twist. Viewers tuning into the series will see the same story told differently, in a modern take on this French classic, as the team behind this television adaptation is ignoring the famous songs and instead embracing speaking-only roles in an ethnically diverse cast sporting British accents in a French setting. The intent is to add a contemporary feel to the 150-year-old story.

 

The series features an esteemed ensemble of actors to bring the story to life. It stars Dominic West in the iconic role of ex-convict Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as his nemesis Javert and Lily Collins as the destitute Fantine as key players in the amazing cast.

Les Misérables: Lily Collins as FantineThis television adaptation of Les Misérables brings the renowned classic by Victor Hugo vibrantly to life through colorful and fetching characters. Multi award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies goes back to the original novel and digs deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, taking viewers on a roller coaster ride through Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship set against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest.

 

Les Misérables includes some of the most famous characters in European literature, and touches upon many of the same social problems that we face today – the struggle of poverty, crime and punishment, good vs. evil, social injustice and wrong vs. right.

 

Director Tom Shankland says: “Working with this incredible cast on Andrew Davies’ fantastic adaptation of Les Misérables, really is a dream come true. We want to capture the thrilling spirit of passion and protest in Victor Hugo’s novel and make it feel more relevant than ever. The conviction, intensity and authenticity that all of these actors bring to their work is going to be a massive part of making this story speak to audiences everywhere.”

Les Misérables on MASTERPIECE

Sundays at 8:00 pm
April 14 – May 19, 2019
on PBS Hawaiʻi
Watch a preview here

 
Les Misérables on Masterpiece

 

 

 

A childhood discovery and a journey of 1500 pages

 

CEO Message

 

A childhood discovery and a journey of 1500 pages

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOI was a barefoot third-grader, playing with hula hoops in a friend’s garage in Āina Haina, when I spied a stack of old comic books.

 

That was my unlikely introduction to Les Misérables. The foreign words were on the cover of a Classics Illustrated comic book, where a man carrying another was running from pursuers in a rat-infested tunnel.

 

My playmate and I dropped our hoops and hunched over that top book in the stack. The drawings were dramatic – and even more striking were the words, painting the story of a man who was both hero and crook, good and bad, trusted and untrustworthy, long-suffering and impatient, a man who hated and loved.

Comic book cover art of Victor Hugo's Les MisérablesWe’d found a magic comic book that was not the usual kid stuff of bright, positive absolutes.

 

Even though the story was set far away and long ago, it resonated deeply. It spoke to the confusing contradictions I’d already experienced in my young life – a father who promised to be home at night but rarely was; an admired teen scholar/ athlete who kicked his dog when he thought no one could see; and the much-feared school bully who was understanding and even gracious when I accidentally hit him in the face with a kickball.

 

A couple of years later, during summer vacation, I wanted more than the comic book version of Les Misérables. As it turned out (just my luck!), the hardcover novel is one of the longest books in European literature, nearly 1,500 pages. On top of that, I needed to have a second book handy, the dictionary. I still remember the first of many words I looked up: morass.

 

Reading the novel sometimes felt like slogging through a morass. Author Victor Hugo would digress into long, detailed histories – of the Battle of Waterloo, the construction of Paris sewers and more. Those parts, I skimmed.

 

However, I was forever held by the main story line which famously starts with Jean Valjean sent to prison for stealing bread to feed his widowed sister’s seven children. The story enveloped me in a world in which I was often trying to decipher the boundaries of right and wrong, good and evil, war and peace, love and hate.

 

Later, when I covered poverty as a journalist, I would return to Les Misérables to re-read this stinging quote: “There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.”

 

Since childhood, I’ve always been eager to see new adaptations of Les Misérables, on stage and screen. I hope you’ll join me in spirit, on the community sofa, to view this latest PBS television presentation.

 

Les Misérables on MASTERPIECE

Sundays at 8:00 pm
April 14 – May 19, 2019
on PBS Hawaiʻi

 

Learn more about Les Misérables
in our program guide cover story by
Jody Shiroma, VP of Communications, PBS Hawaiʻi.

 

Aloha Nui,

Leslie signature


 

 

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Speaking Truth to Power

 

The phrase “speak truth to power” is often used to describe an act of courage and non-violence, standing up for what one believes to be the truth, despite resistance from powerful forces. We often think of figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Anita Hill, or the man who stood in the path of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

 

Perhaps the people who have changed our own community by speaking truth to power are our greatest inspiration. On INSIGHTS, we’ll ask three of them about the meaning of truth and how it inspired them personally to face powerful opposition: Attorney General Doug Chin, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Hawai‘i that successfully challenged the second national travel ban; Randy Roth, a community activist and co-author of Broken Trust; and Loretta Sheehan, trial attorney and member of the Honolulu Police Commission. Colin Moore, UH political science professor and Director of the Public Policy Center, is also scheduled to join this discussion.

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights