Les Miserables: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Les Miserables: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack Music Poster Image
Tragic, intense film songs delivered with passion.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Like the Victor Hugo novel on which this musical is based, the film and soundtrack make a strong statement about the ravages of war, the destructiveness of poverty, and the evils of abusing power.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Valjean is a model of good, selfless behavior. Though he was forced by circumstances to steal, he is loyal to Fantine and devotes himself to caring for Cosette. He also spares the life of his pursuer, Javert, when he has the chance to kill him. The women in the film and soundtrack are somewhat helpless in the world of the movie, but they have sweet, loving hearts.


In addition to lyrics about blood, death, knives, and guns, the soundtrack includes the sound of gunfire and explosions, particularly in "Final Battle." Track 18 is called "Javert's Suicide"; the character sings about how he can't bear to live in a world in which Valjean has the upper hand, and he must take his own life.


Women in the story are accused of being whores, and one is forced to turn to prostitution when she becomes poor and homeless. Lewd language is used in several songs, including "At the End of the Day," which includes lines like "Take a look at his trousers, you'll see where he stands." Sexual words and phrases include: "prostitute," "pimp," "wandering hands," "slut," "whores."


In addition to rude sexual language ("whore," "prostitute," "pimp," "slut"), lyrics include one "s--t," one "pissed," and a few mentions of "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People in the songs drink wine, gin, and brandy. The song "Drink With Me" is one long toast.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that like Victor Hugo's immortal novel, the musical version of Les Miserables tells a heartbreaking story in which people are forced into dire circumstances by poverty. Characters suffer from starvation, cold, imprisonment, and cruelty; some women must turn to prostitution to survive. Because the film is operatic, these situations are revealed in detail in the soundtrack. Songs also mention drinking wine, gin, and brandy; women are called prostitutes and whores, and other suggestive language is used. There are also a few curse words ("s--t," "pissed," "hell"). But most distressing are the complex, agonizing problems caused by wretched poverty in a society where citizens have no choice but to resort to crime, yet the rule of law is unflinchingly enforced.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLSU Mom January 17, 2013


Visually beautiful and engrossing movie adaptation of the Victor Hugo book, a story the main theme of which is two men's (played by Hugh Jackman and Russel... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymovie_lover7 April 29, 2014

LOVE Les Miserables

Beautiful yet sad story, gorgeous score. Loved every second.
Teen, 17 years old Written byJames N. O November 14, 2013

A Great Soundtrack (As Long As Kids Aren't Listening)

The soundtrack for the motion picture hit is, like its movie counterpart, uplifting and immensely entertaining. Now, down to the bad news.
As it is only a Highl... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the operatic musical version of Victor Hugo's epic novel LES MISERABLES, the songs tell the story of Valjean, the good-hearted convict/fugitive; poor abused Fantine, who must leave her illegitimate baby girl in the hands of charlatans; rigid, dogmatic Javert; and sweet young lovers, Marius and Cosette. Listeners will not get all of the plot from listening to these songs, but they will get a feeling for the characters and their plights, as well as a sense of the complex problems caused by extreme poverty in a society where citizens have no choice but to resort to crime, yet the rule of law is unflinchingly enforced.

Is it any good?

The Les Miserables  music is extremely affecting -- alternately heartbreaking, shocking, uplifting, and occasionally funny. It's true that not all of the performers in the film are brilliant singers. Russell Crowe could not have a career in opera. However, he and his co-stars are all good enough singers, and great enough actors, to carry these songs off extremely well. Anne Hathaway in particular sings with deep feeling that takes songs far beyond where just her lovely voice can go. Anyone who loves the film will definitely treasure this album.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about soundtracks. How do they enhance the movie viewing experience? Would you buy this soundtrack if you weren't a fan of the movie?

  • Does it engage you more or less that the story is told in song? How does the experience compare to reading the novel?

  • What message do these songs offer regarding the effects of poverty?

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