Les Miserables finds support, caution in Christian community
Feb 6, 2013

DECISIONS Deciding whether to see the blockbuster Les Miserables, from a Christian perspective, may entail the choice between those who laud the film as a masterpiece for its themes of grace, mercy and redemption and others who believe its sexual content, violence and language make it unfit for Christian viewing. Photo illustration/Hope Vunk
NASHVILLE (BP)—Many Christians already have seen the blockbuster “Les Miserables” and have voiced glowing reactions, partly the hoped-for result of a marketing campaign to the faith community.

According to a report by CNN, NBC Universal sought to capitalize on the movie’s themes of grace, mercy and redemption by promoting Les Miserables to pastors, Christian radio hosts and other influential people in Christian circles.

Yet there are two ways to respond to the film from a Christian perspective. While many people laud it as an inspiring masterpiece, others believe the film’s sexual content, violence and language make it unfit for Christians.

Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs is among the supporters of Les Miserables, partnering with promoter Grace Hill Media for a special screening, according to CNN Jan. 3. Focus on the Family invited adoption agencies, child welfare officials and church leaders throughout the state to preview the film.

“We’re trying to raise awareness for the needs of kids, particularly in the foster care system, who don’t have any families,” Kelly Rosati, vice president of community outreach for Focus on the Family, told CNN. “We love to come alongside them and welcome them home, and for that reason, we loved the movie.”

Rosati added that Les Miserables “is able to engage the heart in a way straight facts and calls to action can never do.”

Les Miserables won Golden Globe awards Jan. 13 for best musical or comedy, best actor and best supporting actress. The film has been nominated for several Oscars, including best picture, best actor and best supporting actress.

Among Southern Baptists, Les Miserables also has found support. Former SBC president Bryant Wright tweeted, “Seeing Les Miserables may do more to build up adoption than any article or policy discussion. Don’t miss it!”

Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, a new Bible study curriculum from LifeWay Christian Resources, wrote a positive review of Les Miserables that appeared on Crosswalk.com.

“I am a fan of the book. I am a fan of the musical. Now, finally, I am a fan of the movie,” Wax wrote, noting the “pervasiveness of Christian imagery in the film.” 

“We see the ugliness of sin: theft, hypocrisy, and immorality,” Wax wrote. “The darkness of evil makes the light of love shine all the brighter.”

Baptist Press in December carried a review of Les Miserables by Christian film critic Phil Boatwright, who called it the best film of the year. 

“Les Miserables is a parable that clearly conveys the difference between the Bible’s Old Testament, where man is dependent upon the laws of God in order to find deliverance, and the New Testament’s revelation of God’s sacrifice that paid our sin debt,” Boatwright wrote. “This message is successfully and most passionately brought to this screen production.”

Though Focus on the Family helped promote Les Miserables, the pro-family organization’s movie reviewing arm, Plugged In, detailed in several paragraphs the sexual content, violence and objectionable language. Prostitutes “expose just about as much skin as is possible in a PG-13 film,” the review said, and sexual acts were depicted on screen. 

“A young woman and a 12-year-old boy are shot by soldiers, and we see them bleed to death. We see stacked corpses in the street, and the gutters run red,” Plugged In said of the violence, in part. Jesus’ name is profaned a half-dozen times.

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