Do you hear the people sing? Les Mis!


As much as many people have been looking forward to The Hobbit, the new forthcoming film I’m really excited about is Les Misérables.

Set in 19th century France, it climaxes on the barricades of the Paris uprising on 5–6 June 1832, following the death of General Lamarque, the only French leader who had sympathy towards the working class.

Apart from the stirring music and high drama that I love so much from this musical, from a wargamer’s point of view there’ll be much to look out for in the way of 1830s French soldiery, as evidenced by the following selection of photos.

Though it looks like there is some WTS (‘wrong tank syndrome’) going on.  For example the blue (!) epaluettes on some soldiers, and the coat-tails looking far too long for the 1830s.  But nice to see the French infantry in garance (scarlet) trousers.

les mis 3

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25 thoughts on “Do you hear the people sing? Les Mis!

  1. The setting certainly looks interesting, though must admit I am not normally one for musicals… I may check it out once it hits the video rental store shelves… As for Russell Crowe singing…? 😉

  2. Actually I saw a bit of it today after seeing Tarentino’s Django – During the part where Russel Crowe sings and yes he can sing and does a smarting good job of it. So picked the wrong movie for my BD celebration – Going to Les Miserables on Sunday. DJango is the usual Tarentino fair. But Les Miserables looks superb and well worth a loook!!!!

    1. You can hear some of Russel Crowe’s singing in the trailer. You’re right, he is quite good. And he played quite a good violin in ‘Master and Commander’, too – so obviously he is not unmusical.

  3. Also interesting blue uniforms for the french in this movie almost a new blue color is this historical and is it the same color for regular Napoleonic?

      1. Hello. Thank you for posting the photos. I was looking for the period images vs. the movie uniforms. It appears that the infantry have no bayonet scabbards and the all blue uniforms may be engineers or artillerymen but are misplaced. The cavalry uniforms appear to be re tooled Napoleonic War. All in all, not bad for movie extras. You may note that the uniforms on the bodies at the final barricade scene are later 1840s with frock coats.

        1. Sorry, my comment was not a question. The National Guard was reinforced by 25,000 regular army troops at the June Rebellion, and the red and blue uniforms are those of the regular army.

  4. It does look rather good, I recall studying this period as part of my first history degree & to me the astonishing part of it is that things didn’t fall over more than they did. France was in serious trouble at the time.

    I have to confess I still haven’t seen The Hobbit, am a huge Tolkien fan but I have some concern as to what our fellow countryman has done to the plot of a charming kids’ book.

    1. I vaguely recall learning about the June revolution, plus those in the 1840s, when I was at school. It is funny seeing some commentators talking about ‘Les Mis’ as being set in the French Revolution (as though there was only one French revolution).

      On your other point, Matthew, even if our countryman did change the plot of the original ‘The Hobbit’, I don’t think it really matters, because the original still exists, and I still enjoy both.

  5. I think saying that “you found them [uniforms, scenes and civilian dress] to be historically accurate” is going a bit far, especially based on just Wikipedia 😉

    As shown in the comments above, while there is a semblance of accuracy in some cases, they could only at best be described as loosely based on real life. Enough to satisfy me for a movie, but certainly not what I would ever call “historically accurate”.

    1. I didn’t find the pic of the actual uniform on Wikipedia. If the scenes were not historically accurate, how so, and on what support is your opinion based?

      1. So far as historic uniforms is concerned, the ones used in the movie are more akin to the Napoleonic era, though with some changes to give an impression of the 1830s (for example, the movie does well to give the infantry and some of the dragoons the wonderful ‘garance’ [scarlet] trousers that the French wore by that time).

        But there are definitely inaccuracies also evident, such as the Napoleonic shape to the shako, compared with the more modern looking shako worn by then.

        And from the discussion above, you can see we also have some questions over the light blue uniforms worn by some of the soldiers in the movie.

        But don’t get me wrong. As I mentioned above, despite the uniforms not being totally accurate, I think they’ve still done creditably well giving an overall impression of the look of the period, which is more than you can say about a lot of historical movies (the so-called ‘wrong tank syndrome’!!).

    2. Further, I have been to Paris and I can say unequivocally that the scenes are authentic — many of the buildings there are hundreds of years old.

      1. Er, they are authentic-looking, but not authentic. The big battle scene was actually filmed at the Greenwich Naval College in England, not in France!

        But, again, all credit to the film-makers, they’ve captured an authentic feel, even if it isn’t actually in Paris.

  6. Oh, OK – it was just that the excerpt you quote on your posting on your site was from Wikipedia 😉

    But as you say, that wasn’t about uniforms and civilian dress.

I hope I've given you something to think about - please do leave a comment with your thoughts or reactions.

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