Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guest Post By Eva - Les Miserables {the barricade boys}

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"They declared themselves the friends of the ABC..."

{note: most of this post will be referring to Les Miserables, the book.  just want to make that clear so that somebody who has seen the movie but not read the book will know that I know what I'm talking about :)} 

They are known as the Les Amis de ABC. Or 'the students'. Or 'the insurgents/rebels'. Or the barricade boys. Enjolras. Combeferre. Courfeyrac. Je(h)an Prouvaire. Bossuet. Bahorel. Joly. Feuilly. Grantaire. These are, in my opinion, the true heroes of Les Mis...and I'm here today to discuss my favorites (although, really, I love them all).

Enjolras comes first on the list. Naturally. He's amazingly awesome and also, as a friend of mine said, the Master Of Epicness. Even his name is epic :) And there are lots and lots of reasons why he's my favorite...he pulls all these different boys together, all with different interests and skills, into one group (in fact, Victor Hugo refers to the Amis as a family). He bears a huge responsibility on his shoulders - starting a revolution is never easy.

One of the times I really admired him was near the end of the last battle, when all the defenders are making a last stand and he lets the other volunteers make it to 'safety' inside a wine shop (actually, it wasn't safe at all but it did gain them a few more minutes). He covers all of them with only a short, cut off, broken sword and still makes it in there. And once he's inside, he said, "We must sell our lives dearly" and I broke down (not that I wasn't crying already).

Enjolras is also incredibly handsome (not a requirement for a hero, but it certainly doesn't hurt). And the fact that he dies in an epic way is heartbreaking and awesome at the same time..."Enjolras, pierced by eight bullets, remained leaning against the wall, as though the balls had nailed him there. Only his head was bowed." *bursts into tears for the umpteenth time* Of course, in the movie, he falls backwards out of the window, red flag streaming down.
Pinned ImageNow we get to my personal favorite (after Enjolras, of course) - Je(h)an Prouvaire.  Just let me explain about his name first.  His real name is Jean Prouvaire but all his friends call him Jehan so that's what I'll be doing throughout this post :)  Since I consider myself a friend.
Jehan writes poetry. He's in love (although we never find out who he's in love with). He likes flowers and being outdoors and he dresses badly.  He's a really sweet guy who doesn't like violence but he's not a fact, Victor Hugo describes him as fearless and I'll be getting to that in a moment.  He's also really shy and he knows four different languages.
But Jehan is fearless.  How do I know this?  His death scene, peoples.  It's just as heroic and heartbreaking as Enjolras' death.  After the first attack, Enjo takes the roll call and Jehan is missing - but he's not among the dead or wounded so they conclude (rightly) that he's been taken prisoner.  By this time, the students have captured Javert so Combeferre goes up to Enjolras and says, "How set are you on the death of this spy?" and Enjolras answers, "Very...but not so much as on the death of Prouvaire."  Combeferre says that he'll go and bargain with the soldiers - Jehan for Javert...and then they hear the rattle of guns coming from the end of the alleyway and Jehan calls out "Long live France!  Long live the future!" and then they cut him down.
The first couple of times I skimmed through read the book, I didn't know that Jehan was one of the main body of the barricade boys so I didn't get what was so important about his death.  But then I backtracked and read all about him and then I understood.  A friend of mine told me that he gets bayoneted in the back in the movie.  And who can forget the heartwrenching scene when Combeferre tries to get Jehan to safety but the people inside the houses close their doors to them?
That's Jehan.  This picture breaks my heart.  In about a hundred places.
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And here's Jehan again...only he's fighting this time :)  I can't tell you how excited I am to see him on screen.  Um, am I just using this post as an excuse to put up Jehan pictures?  No.  I am not.  Well...maybe a little ;)

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In the film, Combeferre is
played by Killian Donelly
who played
Enjolras on the West End.
 He was an amazing Enjolras.
Combeferre is almost tied with Jehan for my second favorite Les Amis.  He's Enjo's right hand man and is spoken of as being 'the guide' and he really does guide all the other students.  I always like to think of him as a father figure to the entire group and this is really brought out in the film in the way he tries to protect the other boys, even in his final moments (more on that in a little bit).

Combeferre is a bookworm (like me!) and he's constantly think of ways to make the world a better place.  He's always open to new ideas and I think one of the reasons he and Enjolras are such good friends is because he complements Enjolras.  Enjo has a passionate fighting spirit and high ideals while Combeferre is more down to earth and compassionate.

There's a scene in the book where Enjolras is telling everybody that some of them should go home, that they shouldn't stay...but everyone wants to stay.  And Combeferre stands up and gives a tear-your-heart-out speech in which he reminds the men about their families and friends that are waiting for them.  And the book mentions that he has a mother waiting for him to come back...and he never did.

In the book, the final battle is winding down to a dramatic, horrible close.  All the students have been killed.  Except Combeferre, Grantaire and Enjolras (if you're wondering why I haven't mentioned Marius at all in this post, the reason is - he's not one of the students  but just so you know, he's still alive when this scene comes around).  Combeferre is helping a wounded soldier, one of the enemy, to safety.  His reward?  He's stabbed three times through with a bayonet and dies.  I hated Victor Hugo when I read that.

In the film, Enjolras, Combeferre, Courfeyrac and Joly are in a room and the guns crack...and they all fall except Enjolras.  When saw a screencap of the moment just before the guns go off, I cried.  Why?  Look at the way Combeferre has his arm in front of Joly.  He's trying to protect the other students even when he knows they're about to die.

Look at their faces...especially Combeferre's.  He's really, really scared and hurt.  It makes me hurt inside.

And here's Courfeyrac right after Gavroche is shot and Combeferre is comforting him.

Pinned ImageCourfeyrac.  He's at the heart of the barricade boys, their centre, their rock.  He befriends Marius, even though he knows virtually nothing about him and offers to lend him money (which Marius refuses), helps him get a job, a place to stay, etc.  He's also an invaluable friend to Enjolras and basically to all the others students as well.

No details are given about his death...merely the sentence, "Courfeyrac died." but something happens much later on in the book.  A rough paraphrase...

"You had a friend, didn't you?" Marius' grandfather asked.
"Well...there was Courfeyrac."
"What happened to him."
"He's dead."
"Ah, well."

And that is all.  But the loss of Courfeyrac can never be fully explained and certainly not by those few words.  In the film, he and Gavroche have an adorable friendship - sort of like father and son - and his reaction to Gavroche's death (I saw little clip) is the most gutwrenching thing I have ever seen.  And the way he tries to scramble over the barricade to rescue Gavroche while he's being shot words.

His face...

Pinned ImageAnd finally...a few words about Grantaire.  I don't even know why I like Grantaire.  He's ugly (at least in the book - casting seems to have ignored the book in this matter).  He drinks (a lot), he annoys Enjolras (to put it lightly) and he sleeps through the entire barricade attack (because he's so drunk).  But his biggest face palm moment was probably this...
Enjolras sent each student to a different place to rouse up the people.  There was one place that he had no one that could go because Marius had stopped coming around to the Cafe Musian.  So Grantaire offered his services and after a short time, Enjolras agreed to give him a trial.  Grantaire left.  A little while later, Enjolras, walking back from where he had given his speech, decided to drop by the place where Grantaire was supposed to be rousing up the people and found him...gambling and drinking.  Enjolras didn't say anything and Grantaire didn't notice him but...that is my least favorite Grantaire moment.
But he redeems himself by the end of the final battle by dying with Enjolras.  He might have been able to make it out of there alive but instead he choose to sacrifice himself to the cause and die with Enjolras.  And that is one reason why I like him so much.  And also, in the musical he really has a great relationship with Gavroche (not the movie, the musical).  Oh, and I forgot to mention that he hero-worships Enjolras.  Big time.  Enjo is not very impressed however and I must say, I don't quite like the way he treats Grantaire at times...anyway.  Moving on...(don't worry, I'm almost finished ;)
This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the four other barricade boys who I love but didn't quite make it onto my list.  Joly (a hypochondriac), Feuilly (to whom I give major kudos for teaching himself how to read and write), Bahorel (always ready for a fight) and Bousset (the oldest of the Les Amis - 25 - and completely bald.  He's my brother's favorite character).
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Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men.
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!


Hi there!  My name is Eva and I'm so glad that Charity invited me to guest post today - I can tell you that it's been a lot of fun :)  I'm a daughter of the King and a homeschooled student. Living life to the fullest as a proud Janeite, avid reader, aspiring author, Les Miserables fan, and computer geek.  Be sure to check out my blog, Ramblings Of A Janeite...until next time!


Hayden said...

ah! The barricade boys! I CANNOT wait to see this movie. I'm in the middle of reading the book for the first time, and I cannot tell you how amazing it is(although I'm sure you already know :)

Enjolras is definitely my favorite, and my love for Les Mis comes directly from him singing Do you Hear the People Sing for the ifrst time. It was the exact moment I fell in love with this story. :) I also have a huge soft spot for Combeferre, as well.

Well, I could gush a little bit, but I won't :) Enjoyed this post!

Eva said...

Thanks again, Charity for letting me guest post on your blog :) It's been fun!

Eva said...

@Hayden - thanks for your comment :) I can't wait for the movie either (I have the dvd on pre-order and I will definitely be watching it as soon as it arrives)

Bethy said...

This was interesting, I'm reading the book at the moment, but I'm not up to there yet. (I just read that very long-winded description of the battle of Waterloo)
I love Enjo, he is supremley awesome. It might not seem like this in the book but in the movie Marius is more of a barricade boy.
Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the movie. I've seen it three times at the movie theatre and I really want to see it again!! AMAZING!
They should have special sing-along sessions, its really hard resisting the urge to start yelling "ONE DAY MORE!"...
Beth xxx

Charity U said...

Oh, I liked Courfeyrac in the movie...

This is such a sad post! Notwithstanding, I did really enjoy it. I do need to read that book ASAP. Fascinating to learn more about these guys! They are really awesome. :)

Thank you SO much for posting, Eva! The pictures and all were terrific. :)

Eva said...

@Beth - Well, in the musical as well, he's more 'with' the revolution so I'm used to that. But in the book, after he argues with Enjo, he basically ignores the students and the only reason he joins them at the barricade is because he wants to die because he can't marry Cosette. Which I think is dumb.

@Charity - I half considered leaving the info about all their deaths out because it *is* sad but I decided to put it in since it does add to all of their characters. I plundered my Pinterest boards for the picture ;)

garden wall art said...

I love reading your posts!! Keep up the good work!