I saw Les Miserable. I absolutely loved it. For me, it was nothing short of brilliant.
I did read one blog post by a Catholic Wife who was concerned about Fontaine’s descent into prostitution and how it was somewhat vividly portrayed. Most times I’d agree with what Catholic Wife said but not in this instance.
Here’s a snippet:
Les Mis, as a movie, was poisoned by both significant and subtle exploitation of sexuality and the human body; and what could have been a beautiful story purely portrayed left a bad taste of “it was ok, but…” It’s a genuine tragedy since so many Catholic themes are presented throughout the rest of the film, including God’s saving grace, the welcoming charity among religious communities, the difference between allowing your heart to be softened by faith versus hardened within it (Valjean vs. Javert), and a monsignor who shows remarkable compassion and mercy. Thank God I can find this actualized elsewhere.
So what, you’re going to write off the whole movie based on 2 brief scenes and some low-cut dresses? Yes, I am. We live in a time when too often people do the opposite by writing off sexuality in media for the sake of a good story, a funny sitcom, or a drama that gets you hooked. But at what cost am I willing to be entertained? Is it worth letting my soul’s guard down to see “A Heart Full of Love” so sweetly performed? No. Please note that I’m well aware that this film could and will draw others to God, to Christ, to the Church, but my suggestion is that, for those of us who already hold dear the aforementioned Catholic themes, seeing the movie in-theater is inadvisable because the sexuality is unavoidable.
What she says seems perfectly legitimate. But I disagree to a point.
To me, there’s a different between sex and violence in movies and glorified sex and violence in movies. There’s no way anyone could watch Fontaine’s descent into prostitution and feel that there’s anything attractive about it. It’s horrifying. And it’s supposed to horrify you. For me, I think one should harbor a healthy horror at prostitution.
I’d think the movie Pretty Woman is much more dangerous than seeing Les Mis. The movie “Pretty Woman” glorifies prostitution and that’s terrible. But Les Mis, I believe, shows it as awful, cruel, and soulless.
I think the same thing about Django Unchained. That’s violence for violence sake. It’s a cinematic search for the coolest kill shot.
But let’s recall that The Passion of the Christ is one of the most violent movies I’ve ever seen. I mean, it’s hard to watch.
I think what we have to watch out for is the glorification of sex and violence. I think in order to see the glory of self sacrifice and love we must also see the damage of a life without love can do.
I took my thirteen year old to see it and I made her close her eyes during that thirty seconds where Fontaine prostitutes herself. So I agree with Catholic Wife that it wasn’t necessary because my daughter was still hit with the great message of the film which is all about grace and self sacrifice and love. But I don’t see that scene as titillation either. It is an ugly side of life that I chose not to expose my daughter to. But the message is absolutely beautiful and probably the most pro-Catholic movie I’ve seen in years.