Prison Diary: Les Misérables

The movies the chaplain's office has for use in our study aren't all that great. From God's Not Dead to The Passion of the Christ. To be sure, the inmates love these movies, but I struggle with them.

So in an attempt to broaden their horizons, theologically and artistically, I brought in Les Misérables. Last week we watched what is Act One in the musical, up through "One Day More." We'll finish up this coming week.

Showing the movie was a bit of a risk. The plot is hard to track, with big jumps in time and setting. The historical context is foreign. Finally, there's the operatic style. I, of course, can sing every word of every song from start to finish. But would the men be able to track what was going on? Especially the guys who mainly speak Spanish?

To help with this, I did two things. First, we activated the Spanish subtitles. Second, we stopped after each scene--when the movie jumps to a new year--to recap what happened and set up what was about to happen. If anything was missed in the plot we got everyone on the same page.

So how did it go?

Really well, I think. A surprising number of the men had either read the novel at some point or had seen the musical before their incarceration. These guys really loved the movie. And everyone else seemed to as well.

Inmates, it seems, can identify with Prisoner 24601.

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