Last night I went to the Cineworld Cinema in Crawley (Sussex) to see the motion picture, Les Miserables. As expected this was a moving experience. When I saw a film was being planned late last year, I though it a good idea to read the Kindle version of the novel (in English translation I'm afraid). This is in three volumes. Being a slowish reader and by way of an excuse busy with other things, I have only got as far as the second volume, which has taken me about to the time of Jean Valjean's ... (I won't say, which might be a spoiler!). A book obviously can build and explain the characters better than a musical, but I like both in their way. The songs are better in the musical.
To come to my point, both the film and the book vividly portray the poverty and injustice of the 19th century. While progress since then may not have been constant (more like 3 steps forward, 2 back) and certainly not shared equally, I have little doubt the world has progressed socially. Does anyone disagree? Surely few would wish to return to the horrors of Paris behind the barricades. There is still much to be done towards liberty, fraternity and equality. But the French revolution put things in motion, just as Hugo believed it would.
To quote Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
― Tale of Two Cities
By the way, I think Argo is a great film as well, I don't know which will win the Oscar.