Les Miserables episode 1 preview: How the BBC adaptation begins

Les MiserablesAre you ready for Les Miserables episode 1 to be here? The super-ambitious adaptation is set to begin Sunday on BBC One, and it seems almost impossible to put into words what it could bring to the table. You’ve got an all-star cast, a tremendous production team, and a determination for this to be one of the most powerful versions of the story to date. We do feel like this is an iteration meant to speak to longtime fans of the source material, but also appeal to those who aren’t altogether familiar with it at all. How can you argue against watching a group that includes Dominic West, Lily Collins, David Oyelowo, and more? The potential here is through the roof.

Just in case you want to start off with some news about episode 1, take a look at the attached synopsis — we don’t think there will be many surprises in here for those who know the story, but it does give you a sense as to how producers are dividing it up:

1815. War-torn France has been defeated at the battle of Waterloo. Convict Jean Valjean (Dominic West) is nearing the end of his sentence in Toulon after serving 19 years for a petty crime and is released by the ambitious prison guard Javert (David Oyelowo). Convinced he will reoffend, Javert forms a deep personal hatred of Valjean.

Haunted by his past, Valjean experiences a brutal life as an ex-convict, with prejudice at every turn. But an encounter with the wise bishop of Digne (Derek Jacobi) forces Valjean to consider his own morality and the life he wishes to lead.

Little Marius Pontmercy is being raised as a royalist by his grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand (David Bradley). Marius’ father, Baron Pontmercy (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), a colonel in Napeleon’s army, is accidentally saved from death at Waterloo by a passing looter, Thenardier (Adeel Akhtar). Returning from Waterloo, Pontmercy confronts Gillenormand over his parental rights to Marius – but with tragic consequences.

Meanwhile, in Paris, beautiful young seamstress Fantine (Lily Collins) meets the charming Felix (Johnny Flynn) whilst out dancing with friends. But will her naivety be her undoing?

Because of the production team the obvious comparison here is going to be the BBC’s War and Peace, and that is certainly fine with us. What we liked about that series is that it offered up enough time for the source material to breathe; that’s also going to be something that Les Miserables will have here. While six episodes may not be a particularly-long time in order for a series to air, it does still allow for more story and content than a lot of other adaptations of the work.

If you do want to get a greater sense as to what’s coming, be sure to check out the trailer below. If you are reading in America, unfortunately you’ll have to wait to see the series until April 14, when it premieres on PBS.

What are you the most intrigued to see with Les Miserables episode 1? Be sure to share right now in the comments. (Photo: BBC.)

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