Tuesday, October 27, 2015

[Javert] AVM Blog Party -- Day Eight


It's too soon, too soon to say goodbye.

Here's the thing. I know there are a lot of people who *really* wanted to do this Blog Party but they got too busy and they weren't able to. (AGONY!!!!)  I feel bad because apparently I did it in a very awkward week and lots of Musical Fans missed out. So I decided to do a thing. I'm going to extend my Musical Theme until after the first week in November, November Seventh.

I can hear the Non-Musical fans groaning in the background. I promise that once I finish with Day Ten, I won't post constantly and fangirl like a freak. I'll probably still do a couple Musical-centered posts before the seventh, just not every day. It's just... I never get to do this and I think it might be fun to let it go a little bit longer.

Also, my blog is going to be under construction. I still kind of hate how it looks. I want to do something different with it, It just might take me a while to decide what.


Day Eight: Favorite Antagonist/Villain

Javert. (Les Miserables) - Antagonist.

"Those who follow the path of the righteous shall have their reward."

I just saw a Production of Les Miserables, (A Community Theatre Production) which means I have a lot of Javert feels. So I am going to do him.

I feel like Javert is a really sad character. When I first heard the musical I thought he was rather harsh, but underneath his walls he did have a heart, one he seldom revealed. My favorite Javert is Philip Quast because his voice is Gold, but I also really liked Russel's Crowe's interpretation of the character. His voice certainly wasn't as good as it could have been, but he acted the part well and he's Russel Crowe, so I can forgive him a lot :)

*Plus, the movie is the only version of Les Mis I've actually seen professionally. The only other production I saw was put on by a Community Theatre. I prefer the actual musical to the movie, because I relate better with the characters, but the movie is pretty good. 

Javert is a police officer in France during the 1700's. He is very strict when it comes to executing the law and he has doesn't have much mercy towards criminals. His biggest rival in the story is Jean Valjean, a thief that he put behind bars for breaking into a house and stealing bread. Jean Valjean is released after twenty years of imprisonment, and shortly after he broke his parole and disappears. For the rest of the musical, Javert dedicates his life to tracking down this "desperate" criminal and put him back where he belongs.

"I never shall yield, till we come face to face. 
'Til we come face to face."

Javert is very harsh, almost heartless. To really understand his character, you have to remember the circumstances he was born under and the time frame he is living in. France has just come out of the French Revolution. The country had been in chaos, caught in a horribly flawed justice system that spun madly out of control and killed hundreds of people, many of whom were innocent. France had finally pulled itself up and established some sort of order, and the law couldn't afford to be lenient. If they relaxed even a little, they risked the people rising up and taking hold of the country again. Most of the citizens were still angry, raw, emotional. The whole country was very fragile and one move in the wrong direction could break the whole thing. Again.

"I am the law, and the law is not mocked."

I believe that Javert was a little insane. You can see there is something not quite right about him, and he gets steadily worse as the musical goes on. He was raised inside a prison, surrounded by criminals. He grew up around the worst of the worst, he saw just how bad bad could be and it scarred him. He became an officer to stop the bad, to make France a better, safer place. The problem with Javert is that he only sees in shades of black and white. He believes in God and the duty he has toward Him, but he focuses too much on the Justice of God. He doesn't allow for mercy or conversion of redemption. He thinks that once a person sins, he is a sinner for the rest of his life and there is no changing.

I don't think Javert was an evil man. I do think he was cold, even cruel.  He wasn't forgiving, he didn't allow for people to make mistakes and learn from them. He was like, "No, if you're a sinner, you will always be a sinner, and that is that." I don't think he could believe people could change. He dealt with criminals all the time. Peasants flooded the streets of Paris, running all sorts of cons and causing problems wherever they went. He was constantly reminded of the evil he was fighting, and from what he could tell, bad men didn't get better. They just got worse.

 *Main point of example, The Thenardier

The sad thing is, I truly believe Javert wanted to make France better for everyone. When the Barricade Boys decided to revolt. Javert was the one who went under cover to stop them. He wanted to stop the revolt before it spiraled out of control and people got hurt. Let me remind you, France had only just survived the last revolution. They really didn't need another one. I understand why the Barricade Boys wanted to free France, but I also understand why a lawman like Javert would see them as traitors and rebel-rousers. I understand why the law would want to stop an uprising. It is his duty to keep the peace, to keep order. He must uphold that at any cost.

Before he could stop the rebellion, the Barricade Boys discovered Javert was a spy. They tied him up until they could decide how to deal with him, and shortly after, the first fight at the Barricade started. Because Javert wasn't able to stop the battle, all of those boys lost their lives. Their deaths were pointless. Nothing good came out of them.

Shockingly enough, Jean Valjean was at the Barricade before that first battle. He came to protect Marius, a Barricade Boy whom his daughter was in love with. He helped Javert escape.

"Vengeance was his and he gave me back my life."

This was the big turning point in Javert's character. You see a side to him that you didn't know existed. He began to doubt his beliefs about good and evil. His whole moral compass was thrown off and he couldn't see his way. He got confused, angry, ashamed, unable to accept the fact that he has been wrong all this time.

"My heart is stone, but still it trembles.
The world that I knew is lost in shadow."

This is when I really like what Russel Crow brought to the character of Javert. After the fight at the Barricade is over, he goes back on the field of battle to close the eyes of the dead and just tidy them up a little so they aren't strewn every which way. He notices a very small boy, Gavroche, lying dead among the others. He is only about twelve-years old. Javert gets down on his knees beside the boy, takes a medal from his uniform and places it on Gavroche's jacket as a symbol of valor and honor. He then takes the body in his arms and removes it from the battle field. I assume he either took the body back to the family, or found somewhere clean and proper to lay the it down before it was buried. It is a very touching moment that isn't in the Broadway production,* and I think it brought a very nice depth to Javert.

*At least, it wasn't before. Some productions might add it in now, since the movie did it. I don't know. 

"This only goes to show what little people can do."

Javert tried to be a good man and live his life for God. His great downfall was that he couldn't accept mercy. Jean Valjean was his sworn enemy and a criminal on top of it. When he saved Javert, asking nothing in return, Javert couldn't accept it. Everything he understood about the world, everything he had believed in and fought for, was turned upside down and torn apart. He had been trying to uphold the law, to do the right thing, but instead he had done everything wrong. He was overwhelmed. He realized everything he had done in the name of justice had been sinful in the name of mercy. He had been the sinner, not Jean Valjean. He had been the man without a heart. It sent him into despair. It broke him so entirely that he couldn't bear it and he killed himself.

In this moment especially, I think it was pretty clear that Javert had lost his mind. Russel Crowe really brought out that aspect of the character, something that I appreciated with his performance. You can literally see the hope leave his eyes and the insanity take over.

"And the stars are black and cold."

At the end of the musical, Jean Valjean dies and you see him enter heaven, and there is sort of a big reunion where you see all the different characters who died over the course of the story. In most productions I don't think Javert is in the finale, but in the Community Production I saw, he was, I know it isn't really accurate, but I loved that he was there. Plus, if he really was insane there is a chance he would have made it to heaven. Javert went down on his knees in front of Valjean and Valjean gently helped him back to his feet. Finally, there was peace between them. It was a beautiful moment, one I didn't expect. I was okay until that happened, and then suddenly there were tears and I just ... I was so glad to see Javert at peace. I think it was a nice touch.

Who is your favorite antagonist? Who is your favorite villain? What are your thoughts on Javert?

Peace out y'all!

*swings around cape and leaps off stage*


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