Les Misérables Film location review – it may surprise that you that though the story takes place in France, the filming didn’t!
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was a huge tome of work, five volumes equalling 1900 pages and after submitting the book for publication Hugo took a well-deserved holiday.
After a few days, and hearing nothing from his publisher about its reception from the public and the critics he sent a telegram to his publisher, reading:
The complete reply from the publisher:
Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables was a huge hit with the public though not immediately with the critics.
150 years later Les Misérables is finding fame all over again with a new set of fans having been made into a spectacular film (2012)
Surprisingly though, only one part of the film was shot on location in France, the rest of the filming took place in the UK and the Pinewood Studios
Much of the earlier story of Les Misérables takes place in the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer in the north of France, a pretty town which looks much today as it did when Hugo visited in 1837 and was inspired by the sights and people he met to write this epic story. Montreuil-sur-Mer is like a mothballed town of Hugo’s day but it was not chosen for the location of the film version of Les Misérables. The cobbled streets, ancient buildings and ramparts are all there, but there is no sea as implied in the town’s name. The sea has long since departed due to a build of silt and at the time of his visit Hugo professed his disappointment at that.
The docks and buildings of Chatham in Kent and Portsmouth in Hampshire provided a suitably atmospheric backdrop for much of the film scenes where Fantine is featured. For the famed fighting scenes in Paris where the streets are barricaded, Greenwich in South East London, computer graphics and the sets of Pinewood were transformed in to grand Parisian scenes.
Valjean’s jump into the Seine was filmed in beautiful Bath in the South of England and Winchester College is the setting for his death scene. Winchester is also the setting for the medieval streets of Montfermeil in Paris. The wedding scene of Cosette and Maris was filmed at Boughton House, Northamptonshire.
Trailer for Les Misérables
The only part of the film to be shot in France was at Gourdon in Provence where Valjean undergoes a moment of self-awareness and vows to turn his life around.
Click here for a resume of the book Les Misérables.
Click here for a review of Montreuil-sur-Mer, the inspiration and setting of Les Miserables
Click here for a short biography of Victor Hugo.