Miceli, Sergio
(ed. and transl. by Marco Alunno)


to the content prev next to the end

3.1. Les Misérables by Raymond Bernard and Arthur Honegger (France, 1934)

This is one of those rare cases in which the importance of the composer (1892-1955) brings you to speak first about the music rather than the film itself. In fact, Honegger’s academic position did not prevent him from dedicating his efforts to cinema well beyond what other composers of his generation did. Except for Auric, none of his colleagues – Les Six, as the imagination of Paul Collaer, an influential critic, called them – achieved the same number of collaborations (35 films)59 as Honegger did. According to Darius Milhaud, both Satie’s and Honegger’s friend:

Il y eut pendant longtemps, dans les milieux de cinéma, une espèce d’ostracisme à l’égard des musiciens dits symphonistes, classe légèrement méprisée par les producteurs qui recherchaient des compositeurs de musique populaire et commerciale à la fois. Petit à petit les dits symphonistes parvinrent à pénétrer dans les studios en mettant un faux-nez à leur musique, c’est-à-dire en écrivant dans un style qui méritait le suffrage des producteurs et des metteurs en scène. Une fois qu’il fut prouvé que les belles partitions de À nous la Liberté d’Auric et celle des Misérables d’Honegger remportaient un succès populaire, ces musiciens furent adoptés et recherchés.60

59 According to the counting of Willy Tappolet, Arthur Honegger, Fr. trans., forward by Alfred Cortot (Zürich: Éditions de la Baconnière, 1954). Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

60 Darius Milhaud, Notes sans musique (Paris: René Julliard, 1949), p. 268. Source: Archive S. M., Florence. / “For a long time the so-called symphonic composers were ostracized in film circles, and as a class rather looked down upon by film-producers in search of composers capable of writing music that would be both popular in appeal and a commercial proposition. Gradually the serious musicians managed to win their way into the studios by putting on false noses – that is, by disguising their music in a style calculated to earn the approval of fi lm-producers and directors. Once it had been proved that fi ne scores like Auric’s music for A nous la liberté or Honegger’s for Les Misérables could win popular success, these musicians’ reputations were established and their services were much sought after.” D. Milhaud, Notes Without Music, trans. D. Evans, ed. R. Myers (New York: Da Capo Press, 1970), p. 240-241. [EN]


Raymond Bernard, Arthur Honegger and Maurice Jaubert, 1934.

During the recording of the music for Les Misérables.

Something already known to scholars but worth to stress here anyway can be evinced by Milhaud’s witty remark: also European producers chose the composers as well as the impresarios did in XVIII-century musical theater. Whether or not a composer was hired anew depended upon how successful he had previously been. A director could suggest a name but the producer (with a few exceptions, not earlier than the 1950s) always had the last word. The more visible difference between North-American and European productive systems consisted in the way orchestration was handled. In fact, unlike Hollywood, in Europe it was left in the hands of the composer. Milhaud’s words sound less convincing when he puts Auric and Honegger on equal footing. This would mean that the music Auric composed for À nous la liberté is the best music one could possibly think of for that extraordinary film by René Clair (1931). Yet, that music – and the film itself – has nothing to do with the music Honegger composed for Les Misérables. Neither work needed to wear a “faux-nez”, simply because Auric was innately cinglant61 and oriented to the cabaret world, whereas Honegger was, likewise innately, a symphoniste. Moreover, Honegger had been working for more than ten years in some very important films in cinema history: e.g. Abel Gance’s La Roue (1922) and Napoléon (1927), and L’Idée (1934), an animated film by Berthold Bartosch, his best one in my opinion.62 For Les Misérables, as well as for other films of that prolific period, Honegger was assisted by Maurice Thiriet.63

61 ‘Biting,’ in French in the original text. [EN]

62 To know why see Sergio Miceli, Film Music, p. 780.

63 In 1934, the same year in which Les Misérables was produced, Honegger also arranged a Suite for Orchestra based on the music for the film. In Honegger (Paris: Seghers-La Guilde du Livre, 1966), p. 164, the author, Jacques Feschotte, inserted the composition in the symphony and symphonic poems section of the composer’s list of works.

At present, this adaptation of Les Misérables is undoubtedly one of the most impressive. First of all, I feel that the restoration gave one of the best results I know: the black and white contrast is very beautiful and noises in the soundtrack have been greatly attenuated. Two Blu-ray DVDs with 4K restoration (see technical features) were produced. The difference between the DVDs and the 3 VHS cassettes released before the film’s restoration is abysmal. Yet, old technological devices have some charm despite their flaws being nowadays much more evident, but less dramatic. This version of Les Misérables is also very remarkable because it is one of the few films from the past whose original soundtrack has not been excessively digitally modified when transferred on DVD. In fact, monophonic soundtracks have been artificially turned into stereo ones far too often, and when the audio was stereo Dolby 5.1 technology has been applied. Such changes, ça va sans dire64 yielded unacceptable technical, but mostly, aesthetic consequences that are similar to those concerning film dubbing. After all, one does not always have the option of listening to either the manipulated or the original soundtrack (possibly after a noise reduction operation). Those who are interested in the original version must carefully check that the package says so, although this is not always enough.65 The Pathé edition of Les Misérables, though, is a nice exception because the audio track has been restored as mono but, at the same time, it is compliant with the DTS HD regulation, which is a set of active and passive acoustic rules, not a technical processing as Dolby is.66 This important detail accounts for the respect and competence the restorers showed toward the original characteristics of the film’s audio track.

64 ‘No need to say,’ in French in the original text. [EN]

65 I am referring to a striking case, namely a recently restored edition of Metropolis (see Part I, note 16) with the original music by Huppertz. This edition was released everywhere, I guess, except for Italy where the distributor preferred to save money twice: on the copyright owned by the production of the original music’s recording and on the design of the DVD’s case that is a copy of the layout used for the German edition. Therefore, there is no real way to know whether the name of Huppertz has been left for dishonesty or negligence. But there is a solution: to buy foreign and national films abroad or, if possible, not to buy films released by a local distribution.

66 An acoustic corrective process is called passive when it is applied to the physical environment (e.g. when using sound absorbing panels) and is called active when the sound is electronically modified (amplification, equalization, etc.). The latter can be applied to the former if the desired result has not been completely achieved.

Now, with respect to dubbing, French distributors of the DVD are among the most radical because the only features they offer in addition to the original dialog track are the closed captions and, sometimes, the English subtitles. Having the chance to select the original language is, in fact, the only way a film should be seen and listened to, especially if one aims to an analysis of the soundtrack or if the film comes from Russia or the Far East. I say this for the respect I have for cinema and not to call for a multilingual talent that only a few people have. Behind this, there is also a typical French linguistic protectionism that is unparalleled in Europe and hard to agree with especially in Italy where anglicisms are everywhere, starting with some governmental expressions. At any rate, it is an indisputable fact that in Eastern films language sounds are greatly different from Western ones. What would be then the alternative for those who do not know Chinese, Japanese or Russian, like most of European and American spectators? Luckily English subtitles are nearly always present and the problem is solved.

I will never forget the impression that Toshiro Mifune’s real voice in DVD, its texture and its thickness had on me. After watching at the art cinema house Arlecchino in Florence (close to the Old Bridge; nowadays a porn film theater) the dubbed version of what was probably the national premiere of Rashomon (羅生門, 黒沢明, 1950) and The Seven Samurai (七人の侍, 黒沢明, 1954) by Akira Kurosawa, or The Burmese Harp (ビルマの竪琴, 市川崑, 1956) by Kon Ichikawa, to watch them again in original language felt like I have never seen them before. Despite all the bad things I said about a 1995 US restoration released in LP and VHS RCA by Red Seal with the new recording of the music directed by Yurij Temirkanov (Юрий Темирканов),67 I felt something similar when I heard the real voice of Nicolai Cherkasov (Николай Черкасов) in Aleksàndr Nevskij (Александр Невский, 1938) by Sergei Ejzenštejn (Сергей Эйзенштейн) with music by Sergei Prokof’ev (Сергей Прокофьев). The same happened when I saw Ivan the Terrible, Part I (Иван Грозный, 1945) and Ivan the Terrible, Part II (Иван Грозный. Сказ второй: Боярский заговор, 1958), by the same authors.

67 Whoever is interested in knowing why can read Sergio Miceli, “Aleksandr Nevskij. Renaissance and Transfiguration of a Masterwork”, Eng. trans. in Hanns-Werner Heister (Hrsg.), Musik/Revolution, band 2, Festschrift für Georg Knepler zum 90. Geburstag (Hamburg: von Bokel Verlag, 1997), p. 279-299.

Despite inevitable and painful trimmings, Bernard’s Les Misérables shows anyway the remarkable respect André Lang and Raymond Bernard himself had for the novel. They even literally quote some sentences and follow the mirror-like spiritual form that begins with the bishop Myriel and ends with Valjean’s death. In fact, the latter, before closing his eyes forever, fondly recalls Myriel, a reaction that responds to a well understandable symbology meaningful to Victor Hugo. Now, let us see the audiovisual dramaturgy of the opening credits in detail.

68 Where necessary a translation from French has been added in curly brackets. [EN]

69 ‘N/B’ stands for ‘noir et blanc.’ [ET]

70 Differences: in DVD 1, during the opening credits, there is no music on black screen. Music is different and enters when Hugo’s portrait used in DVD 1 is shown. A much shorter ‘autograph’ motto (but it is not Hugo’s hand writing) follows.

71 With explicit synch I mean the exact and unequivocal coincidence between a filmic and a sound/musical event. In fact, sometimes a sound is immediately ‘doubled’ and imitated by the music. With implicit synch, instead, I mean a much smoother audiovisual matching, such as a change in timbre, harmony, rhythm or dynamics, or the entrance and ending of a thematic segment. Many other factors might determine the presence of an implicit synch if at the same time something similarly smooth occurs on the screen. To know more about the distinction between implicit and explicit synchs in the context of the ‘theory of levels’ see Sergio Miceli, Film Music, p. 481-567.

Watching the opening credits would suffice to understand the unusual quality of this score. In fact, except for uncommon cases, it is well known that any film composer has two spots where his/her creative freedom does not find too many obstacles and it can still place some explicit synchs: the opening and ending credits. However, in the last fifteen or twenty years there has been a new trend that consists either in ‘summing up’ the opening credits after the initial premises or eliminating them completely and extending the ending credits.

Honegger handled the music material for the opening credits in an unusual fashion: it made it homogeneous but varied at the same time, as if he was following a pre-classical model shaped on the example of Johann Sebastian Bach (and, in fact, both Honegger and Hindemith are considered to be the most remarkable heirs of the German master in the XX century). Also Pietro Mascagni planned a large architectural structure to compose the tripartite symphonic scherzo he wrote for Rapsodia satanica (Nino Oxilia, 1915) – he was even able to create some very natural synchs with the image. But, on one hand Mascagni’s models were above all Saint-Saëns, Debussy and Richard Strauss and, on the other, he composed for a silent film where the music should never stop. Thus, any comparison with Honegger ends here.

North-American conception of film music had been tied to the silent cinema’s standard for a while. In fact, leitmotivic, segnaletic, climatic and underscore functions,72 as typical of silent cinema, still remained after two decades of what is deemed to be the birth of sound cinema (1927). Nothing of the kind occurs in Honegger’s film whose peculiarity, when compared to other films of that period, is precisely the low number of musical cues. In the first DVD, one exception (but it is not the only one) is represented by the monologue with which Monsieur Madeleine very dramatically rejects the idea of taking the identity of Jean Valjean again. In this scene, the character’s screaming is imitated by the music. This coincidence must have responded to a precise request of the director who probably overcame his doubts about the efficacy of the scene by searching for the composer’s aid. Such a situation has been described very well by Ennio Morricone for years: “You can’t save a bad movie with a good score.” In Honegger’s specific case the reader can replace “bad movie” with “bad scene.”

72 For a definition of these categories see Sergio Miceli, Film Music, p. 529-41.

It would have been better, here and elsewhere, to coherently separate agitated scenes with undisturbed dialogues from meditative or dramatic episodes, even when they came with a few or no dialogues at all. But, as Joe E. Brown interpreting Osgood Fielding III in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (music by Adolph Deutsch, 1959) said: “Nobody’s perfect.”

In Jean Valjean sur la route (thus it is titled on the CD), after Jean gets out of jail, there are some lines of dialog at the end of the protagonist’s walk. They are just a few and do not interfere too much with the music. A little bit earlier, a beautiful and effective implicit synch is heard. In fact, if Valjean was alone in the first part of his walk and music was reduced to a melody played in pizzicato by cellos and basses, a few seconds later, while he is observing some female farmers, high-pitched strings step in and give the pleasant melody a more elevated character. It is as if the scene’s light becomes brighter, whereas the effect is produced by the high-pitched strings that come in at the right moment.

Les Misérables, 1934

The second film begins with an audiovisual invention that is one of the most effective not only of this version of Les Misérables, but of the whole international production in the twenty years between 1934 and 1954. While the little Cosette, who has been sent out for water at the spring, wanders in a daze around the attractions of a fairground, a grotesque and simple waltz is playing – La foire a Montfermeil. This is the perfect music for délices’ stands,73 trained monkeys and fire-eaters. An accordion starts a ternary rhythm while a clarinet plays a melody à la manière de74 Erik Satie: minimalist and obsessive. A little bit later, the mirror-like entrance of an oboe and a flute followed by an oboe and a clarinet somehow refreshes both the melody and the timbre. It is an extemporary way of distancing from the realistic incipit by abstracting the musical material through the use of ‘academic’ instruments that here are employed also in an abstract, chamber-like manner.

73 ‘Deli’s stands,’ in French in the original text. [EN]

74 ‘In the style of,’ in French in the original text. [EN]

Les Misérables, 1934

Cosette is standing on the edge of a wood that frightens her, especially at night. In its darkness she (and also the viewer) seems to see shapes that look like horrifying monsters. Once she gets in front of the clearing, while the ternary rhythm marked by the accordion and, in part, by the clarinet in unison keeps moving, the overall tone of the music ‘ripples’ at a timpani’s roll in fast crescendo-diminuendo. A group of cellos in echo joins in and, eventually, violins in tremolo and cymbals complete the dramaturgy. After several attempts, Cosette is able to win her fears and can finally fill her bucket with water – here the music turns polytonal. Still in psychophysical distress, the girl gets out of the woods but, since she cannot carry the bucket, she loses heart and cries. Jean Valjean comes in right here. He is the one that will free Cosette forever from the Thénardier’s grip – the music seamlessly takes an elegiac turn.

In this sequence Honegger expresses a rather rare and very ‘educated’ sensitivity that demonstrates him being quite aware of what composing for the image means. Thus, the waltz that was initially and realistically placed on an internal/external level, moves then to a mediated level, so that the viewer does not only see through Cosette’s eyes, but can also hear, through Cosette’s ears, the whole soundtrack, including the dissonant and fairground music that was carried on, in the background, throughout the entire episode.

The observation by the conductor Adriano I am about to quote will help the reader to compare both the divergences and the similarities, although differently expressed, between his and my own point of view.

Honegger also displays a curious experimental aspect in La foire à Montfermeil, where the reprise of the “source” folk music piece has superimposed “psychological” glissandi from trombones, tremoli, glissandi and col legno effects from the strings supported by the percussion. They illustrate little Cosette’s frightful nocturnal experience in the woods, before meeting Jean Valjean for the first time.75

75 Adriano, Notes in Boooklet CD Les Misérables, 1988, p. 7 (for more information see the data sheet).

There are many French actors who interpreted Jean Valjean, but Harry Baur (Henri-Marie Rodolphe Baur, 1880-1943) is first of the list for several reasons. He was certainly the first great interpreter of Jean Valjean in sound cinema. He had also what French people call les physique du rȏle,76 and despite other actors had a similar constitution (Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura and Gérard Depardieu), Baur showed an incomparable vulgarity and stiffness on the psychological level. However, it is a real pity that in the first part he smiles to scorn at the convicts walking by. He has just been set free and that expression on his face is not much in tune with a character, Valjean, whom one would think to be upright and noble. On the other hand, it is quite possible that Bernard wanted to underline the egoism and lack of sensitivity that are typical of Valjean before his conversion.

76 “The perfect appearance,” in French in the original text. [EN]

Cosette’s mother, Fantine, was interpreted by Florelle (Odette Rousseau, 1898-1974). Bernard, who collaborated to the film adaptation, manifested a particularly delighted attention toward her. Florelle always acted emphatically, melodramatically and, therefore, anachronistically with respect to both the film’s modernity and Baur’s and Vanel’s acting, which is, instead, much more contained. This characteristic alone brings us twenty years back, when this type of acting was proper, perhaps, for divas of French silent cinema like Yvette Andréyor and Suzanne Bianchetti. In an interesting archive interview dated April 4, 1979 [sic] that is part of the supplements77 of DVD 2 from the reference edition, Raymond Bernard speaks about Florelle’s performance with high respect and conviction.78 There is nothing one can do but accept Bernard’s opinion. At any rate, my critique is still valid because Florelle’s interpretation of Fantine is barely believable.

77 ‘Extras,’ in French in the original text. [EN]

78 In the extra no. 8, lasting almost 11 minutes, there is a clear mistake in the interview’s date since every consulted text reported that Bernard passed away on December 11, 1977. According to the DVD, instead, Roger Ikhlef’s interview took place two years later.

In the third part of the film, Josselyne Gaël’s interpretation of the adolescent Cosette is based on a doll-like expression. Due to her vaunted coquetry, it is hard to believe that the simpering girl had a troubled childhood. It seems like the director lost control of the main female characters, except for Orane Demazis interpreting the adult Eponine. If this was the case, Bernard could anyway show his skills both in the long sequence of the general Lamarque’s burial service and in the even longer part dedicated to the barricades. In both situations the director is a real master of crowded scenes. But he can go even beyond what the definition of ‘master’ usually entails. In fact, during the appropriately prolonged wait for the solemn passing of the bier, no populist compromises are made while the shots to individual characters and collective scenes seamlessly alternate. Every detail is a self-contained ‘pearl’ that is hard to describe, particularly since nothing really happens in each small scene. Moreover, Bernard is able to show the two faces of the conflict without walking into the trap of a presumed intimacy with the figures that actually contributed to make History. The director’s eye borders on the objectivity of a documentary report and the first battle, although won by the revolutionary front, is told with a dramatic conception that never turns into melodrama, rhetoric or triumphalism. In other words, the events yield their own very well-narrated drama; therefore, there is no need to search for external aid to enhance it. With regard to film shooting, there are moments (for example, the barricades at night) in which the power of images, the shots’ angle, the bodies’ plasticity and the light-and-shadows effect recalls some solutions used by Ejzenštejn (Эйзенштейн) in Ivan the Terrible, Part I (Иван Грозный) and Ivan the Terrible, Part II (Иван Грозный. Сказ второй: Боярский заговор). However, Bernard exhibits a stronger expressionist influence and a less patent formalism than Ejzenštejn. It could also be quite possible, though, that sources of inspiration were found in Eugène Delacroix’s or Théodore Gericault’s paintings. In any case, by watching the barricade’s construction and the first battles, one quickly realizes that the ruling power will win, as always.

Variations in titles reflect the differences between DVD 1 and DVD 2. In the second DVD Harry Baur appears as the interpreter of two characters: M. Fauchelevent and Jean Valjean. Other actors are: Jean Servais (Marius), Robert Vidalin from the Comédie Française (Enjolras), Émile Genevois (Gavroche), [Paul] Azaïs (Grantaire), Montignac (Courfeyrac), [Raphael] Cailloux (le père Mabeuf), Charles Vanel (Javert), Mmes. Orane Demazis (Eponine), Josselyne Gaël (Cosette) and Max Dearly (Gillenormand).

Except for the poor Max Dearly who is the last of the original list, in both DVDs female interpreters always come after male actors, regardless of how important their characters are in the story. However, in the 52-page booklet that comes with the reference Blu-ray edition, they tried to correct this inopportune order by placing the main interpreters in the position where they rightly belong to. Hence, in the List artistique,79 at page 47, Florelle occupies the third place, coming after Baur and Vanel. But, besides having confusingly relegated Arthur Honegger in the List Technique (p. 48), two places below maquillage and two places above script, the original male/female division remains and reflects the gender discrimination of that time. Of course, to read in a restored copy’s DVD of Lo squadrone bianco (Augusto Genina, 1936) that this film won the Mussolini Cup at the Venice Film Festival might not sound pleasant to who still possesses well-rooted antifascist principles. What should we do, then? Should we cancel a historical fact? It would be the worst possible mistake.

79 ‘Cast,’ in French in the original text. [EN]

After the word “Fin” there is a comment about the restoration that is worth reporting:80

La numérisation de la troisième époque du film LES MISÉRABLE (1933) [sic] a été effectuée à partir du negatif image et du négatif son d’origine, tous deux sur support nitrate.
Le générique de début a été reconstruit à partir d’un contretype négatif 9,5 mm Pathé Baby et d’une copie d’exploitations anglaise d’époque [sous-titrée].
Le plan d’ouverture du Mariage de Marius et Cosette a été retrouvé sur un marron de la version courte datant des années 40.
La restauration image et la restauration sonore ont été exécuttées par L’immagine Ritrovata – Bologne [2012].81

80 Pages 44 and 45 of the booklet illustrate the same topic in details.

81 “Film and original sound negatives, both on nitrate, were used for the digitalization of the third period of LES MISÉRABLES (1933) [sic]. / The opening credits have been reconstructed from both a Pathé Baby’s 9,5 mm duplicate negative and a copy for the English market from the period [with subtitles]. / The opening shot that shows Marius’ and Cosette’s wedding has been found on a black-and-white internegative of the short version from the 1940s. / Image and sound restoration are by L’Immagine Ritrovata – Bologna [2012].” [ET]

Lastly, here are presented three quite important observations concerning Vanel, Bernard and, eventually, Honegger. Charles Vanel’s Javert is not only the relentless man hunter of Jean Valjean, but also someone who shows some humanity, so much so that he gets close to be unwillingly humoristic. For example, in DVD 1, when Javert informs Valjean that he is going to be free again, the inspector asks the convict if he is happy about it. In DVD 2, after having waited for Jean Valjean to exit the sewer and having walked him to Marius’, he lets him go. Then, while raving, he commits suicide (but the scene is not shown). Although one of cinema’s technical-expressive features is to show the effects of an event rather than the event itself, those who did not read the novel would probably not understand the excessively short shot of ripples on water. The director ‘fixes’ the problem by creating a short auxiliary scene (that is, with no real narrative necessity) in which two policemen detachedly comment upon their colleague’s suicide. Therefore, the admirable sobriety of the interpretation notwithstanding, Vanel’s Javier is a little bit confusing and does not know whether or not to take a stand. Maybe Vanel was still too young (but at the time of Bernard’s film he was already over forty). Certainly he did not have a lot of film acting experience. After all, his proverbial ambiguity and negativity will come out only after WWII.

Raymond Bernard (1891-1977) had been considered for a long time just as a good workman and nothing more. At present, though, he is under reassessment, and it was about time this happened. Such a reassessment starts precisely with Les Misérables that is deemed to be his best film along with Les croix de bois (1932). Actually, talking about Les Misérables is like talking about three films: the 1ere Époque, that in the restored edition is called Une tempȇte sous un crâne (115’); the 2ème Époque, called Les Thénardier (86’); and the 3ème Époque, called Liberté, Liberté Chérie (87’). The vicissitudes concerning long, medium and short versions of Bernard’s Les Misérables are much more complicated than what might seem here. In fact, in addition to the multiple versions edited in France, each distributor had in mind a specific duration for the audience of his country and Pathé had to comply with those requests.

Since I started all this discussion with Honegger’s words, it feels right to me to conclude by going back to those words. But first notice the inexplicable absence of a comment on the composer in the reference edition. This is actually odd because France usually knows how to pay a tribute to its celebrities and particularly talented citizens, no matter where they were born. Thus Honegger answered to one of many questions Gavoty asked the composer:

Je m’y suis adonné [à la musique de film] pour différentes raisons. Là j’ai le travail assez aisé, possédant la technique nécessaire pour écrire vite une partition d’orchestre. D’autre part, le sujet m’est fourni par i’image, qui me suggère instantanément une transposition musicale.82

82 Arthur Honegger ad Bernard Gavoty, Je suis compositeur (Paris: Édition du Conquistador, 1951), p. 84. Source: Archive S. M., Florence.
“I dedicated myself to it [film music] for different reasons. It is a pretty easy work if you have the necessary technique to quickly compose an orchestral score. In the end, the image provides the subject and immediately suggests to me a musical translation.” [ET]

Such a statement, along with the large number of cinema scores, make Honegger one of the specialists of film music. However, this would not correspond to the historical facts. Maurice Jaubert (1900-1940), who worked in Bernard’s film as a conductor, actually being the real first French and European specialist. According to XX century music history Honegger was, first of all, a versatile composer, certainly one of the most remarkable of Les Six and of his time. His works range from a symphonic movement such as Pacific 231 to an oratorio such as Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher on a text by Paul Claudel. Honegger was also very appreciated in the circle of his acquaintances for his high concept of friendship and his irony: “Il est certain que la première qualité d’un compositeur, c’est d’être mort”.83

83 Id., 16.
“There is no doubt that the first quality of a composer is to be dead.” [ET]

DVD box set Les Misérables [reference edition].
Inclus un livret de 52 pages sur la genèse du film et sa restauration, dont le texte “Comment nous avons adapté Les Misérables” par André Lang et Raymond Bernard.
D’après l’œuvre de Victor Hugo.
Un film de Raynond Bernard.
Scénario d’André Lang.
Harry Baur, Charles Vanel, Florelle, Marguerite Moreno, Charles Dullin.
Suppléments: Victor Hugo au cinéma [from the origin to 1934] – La distribution des Misérables de Raymond Bernard – Raymond Bernard, un grand cinéaste français – Scénes coupées – Les essais de Gavroche – Les Chemineau, d’Albert Cappellani – Le grande nuit du cinéma – Les petits lists blancs – Galeries des décors – Galerie photos [from “Les essais de Gavroche,” excerpts mainly from the Gaumont Pathé Archives].
2 Blu-Ray double couche – MPEG 4 – Format 1:37 – Écran 16/9 – Noir et blanc.
1er film Une tempȇte sous un crȃne: 1h55.
2ème film Les Thénardier: 1h26.
3eme film Liberté, liberté cherie: 1h27.
Langues: Français DTS-HD Master Audio Mono restauré
Sous-titres: Sourds et malentendants / Anglais.
Restauration 4K.84
Pathé, 5821896.1 / 2 [Zone 2] from Amazon France.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

DVD box set Raymond Bernard – Eclipse Series 4 from the Criterion Collection – Janus Films. 3 DVDs.
Wooden cross (Les croix de bois), 1932, 113 minutes, black & white, mono, in French with English subtitles, 1:33:1 aspect ratio.
Les Misérables, 1934, 281 minutes, black and white, mono, in French with English subtitles, 1:33:1 aspect ratio.
Zone 1 NTSC, from Amazon USA.
This version is very similar to the previous one and it differs only because is 7 minutes shorter. It is also divided into three films: the first on DVD 1 and the other two on DVD 2.
English titles are the literal translation of the original titles in French.
This edition does not have extras.
Other differences are: abridged opening credits and a new production logo (“CNC A – archive française du film, présentent”) that follows those of Eclipse Criterion, Janus Film and Pathé.
Immediately following there is a photo portrait of Hugo, his long ‘autograph’ motto and an intertitle saying: “Pathé-Natan présente, un film de Raymond Bernard…”. Hereafter, the rest is exactly like in the reference edition. Opening credits starts with the name of the director.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

CD Film Music Classic.
Les Misérables, Complete Film Score by Arthur Honegger.
Adriano & Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Naxos 2004.
Online, da Apple iTunes.
No other data.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

CD Marco Polo Film Music Classic.
Arthur Honegger (1892-1855), Les Misérables
(Complete Film Score 1934).
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava).





Jean Valjean sur la route



Evocation des forcats



Une tempȇte sur un crȃne






Fuite de Jean Valjean



Cosette et Marius



La foire à Montfermeil



Le Luxenbourg



Le jardin de la rue Plumet -
Le convoi nocturne
(orch. Adriano)






Mort d’Eponine






Dans les égouts



Musique chez Gillenormand






Mort de Jean Valjean


This edition includes a 12-page booklet with previously unseen pictures borrowed from the Paris Cinématheque Française and a commentary by Adriano: The preparation of the Score, 1988.85
DDD – Playing Time: 58’55”.
8.223181 © 1990 HNH International Ltd.
Recorded at the Concert Hall of the Czech-Slovak Radio in Bratislava from 2nd to 5th July, 1989.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.

85 References to Adriano’s text are contradictory. In the booklet of CD HNH 8.223181 the title is: Adriano, “Arthur Honegger (1892-1955) Les Misérables (complete film score, 1934), p. 3-7, an adapted version of Editions Salabert’s.

"Les Misérables", L’Avant-Scène Cinéma, Jan.-Feb. 1995, nos. 438/439, in particular Arnaud Laster, "Les Misérables" sur les écrans de cinéma et de la télévision (autre), p. 31-92.
Source: Archive S. M., Florence.86

86 For more bibliographical references see the next footnotes.

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