LES MISERABLES Character Card: JAVERT
About Russell: Russell Crowe won the Australian Film Industry Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of an inner-city skinhead in the Geoffrey Wright film, Romper Stomper. In the late 1990s, Crowe transferred his acting ambitions to the USA with his breakout role in L.A. Confidential. He then won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Gladiator in 2001 and has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Insider (1999), Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001). Russell is the front man of the rock band, The Ordinary Fear of God.
This is the first song in the musical, as opposed to the book, where the scene is told after the beginning through flashbacks. Javert is the prison official presiding over the parole proceedings of the day. When Valjean arrives, he and Javert argue over whether Valjean's actions were justifiable, thus exposing Valjean's past to the audience. Javert corrects Valjean when the latter claims his parole means his freedom, saying, "[Your parole] means you get your yellow ticket of leave", hinting at Valjean's uncertain future. Also, in defiance of Valjean and in order to degrade him, Javert begins his habit of referring to Valjean only as his prison number, "24601".
Eight years later, Javert is a police inspector in Montreuil-sur-Mer. He and Valjean, the mayor and a factory owner under the name Madeleine, are familiar with one another. Valjean remembers Javert but pretends to only know him from Montreuil-sur-Mer, while Javert is fooled by Valjean's new identity; he even respects Valjean as an authority figure somewhat. Javert and several other officers arrest Fantine for attacking Bamatabois, and Javert dismisses Fantine's claims of having a child to support as the same lies he has always heard from criminals. When "Madeleine" arrives, pardons Fantine and has her taken to a hospital, Javert is still suspicious of her and attempts to protest to the mayor, to no avail.
The Runaway Cart
After witnessing Valjean saving Fauchelevant from a runaway cart, he tells "Madeleine" that the latter's strength reminds him of the real Valjean, whom he remembers from the prison years before. Unlike in the book, Javert merely notices a similarity between Valjean and Madeleine, and never truly suspects the mayor of being the prisoner as the man who resembles Valjean had been arrested previously and awaits trial.
Who Am I? (The Trial)
At the end of the song, the real Valjean steps before the court where Javert is testifying to the doppelganger's identity as Valjean. Though he has no speaking lines, Javert is still the one Valjean is addressing when he reveals his true identity and exonerates the man on trial. Through the line "This man bears no more guilt than you," Valjean hints towards the fact that Javert's idea of justice is misled.
At the hospital, after Fantine has died, Javert arrives to find Valjean at her deathbed. Javert, who had once been compelled to respect Valjean as the mayor, is now able to look down on him once more as a prisoner. Javert scoffs at Valjean's request for three day's time to free Cosette, and ridicules and berates Valjean as a recidivist and criminal scum, and mocks his claims of morality by telling of his own origin, being born in a prison with men like Valjean. Javert vows to pursue and capture Valjean no matter where or how he escapes. He is knocked out by Valjean after a struggle.
Nine years have passed. Javert is still an inspector, now in Paris. He breaks up a street fight between two men, one of whom is M. Thénardier, who was fighting the other man out of resentment for his taking Cosette all those years before. Javert fails to recognize the other man as Valjean, the latter of whom recognizes the former instantly and escapes. Thénardier informs Javert that the man he fought was an ex-convict, and Javert makes the connection and identifies him as Valjean.
Javert's first solo song in the musical. Javert sings of his rekindled intent to capture Valjean, and muses on how he believes his actions are just and righteous, as natural and sequential as the order of the stars. Javert prays to God to aid his pursuit, and swears to the stars that he will never relent. The nature of this song shows how Javert is immensely ill-advised, rather than immoral.
The Attack on Rue Plumet
Though he doesn't appear, Javert plays an unseen part in this song. Valjean hears from Cosette that she saw men outside their apartment. Though the men in question were actually Thénardier and members of the Patron-Minette gang, Valjean assumes they were Javert and other policemen under his direction, and decides to flee the city.
One Day More
As with all the other characters, Javert sings of his plans and views for the coming day, June 6, 1832. He describes his condescending view of the student rebels and foresees failure for their insurrection, and schemes to go undercover as a spy for the National Guard to learn the secrets of the revolutionaries and provide them with false intelligence.
Upon These Stones (Javert at the Barricade)
Javert has successfully disguised himself as an adult sympathizer of the uprising, and gains the trust of the students by volunteering to ascertain the plans of the National Guard.
Javert's Arrival"/"Little People
Javert returns to the barricade after an absence and tells the students that the Guard will refrain from attack until at least the next day, and will attack with forces from the right. Gavroche arrives and denounces him as a liar and a police inspector. Javert is captured and restained in the ABC Café, and remains defiant of the students even as his prospects for escaping alive seem bleak.
The First Attack
After arriving at the barricade and joining the student's numbers, Valjean begins fighting in the first skirmish between the revolutionaries and the troops. After Valjean kills a sniper aiming at Enjolras and the latter falls in his debt, Valjean is granted permission to execute the spy Javert. Valjean finds Javert, who is reeling in confusion over his impending execution for nothing more than enforcing the law. He is belligerent to Valjean, and Javert tauntingly encourages him to kill him. Valjean frees Javert, who believes he wishes some bargain in return. Valjean dismisses any request for payment; he explains that he harbors no ill will towards Javert and even gives him his address in case he lives through the fight. A very confused Javert is let free into the night, Valjean telling the students he is dead.
The Final Battle
After the battle is over and the revolutionaries are all dead, save for Valjean and the wounded Marius, Javert returns to the barricade to search for Valjean and finds him gone. He deduces that he is in the sewers, and moves to head him off at an exit near the Seine.
Dog Eats Dog
Javert finds Valjean in the sewers with the wounded Marius. He reiterates his intent to capture Valjean, who is not surprised that his old foe has returned to his mission. Valjean requests an hour's time to bring Marius to a hospital and then he will turn himself in. Unlike he did earlier with Cosette, Javert relents somewhat and allows Valjean to leave and save Marius.
This is Javert's second solo and last song in the musical. Now alone on a bridge above the Seine, Javert soliloquizes his confusion that Valjean wouldn't kill him, whom Javert assumes Valjean sees as his enemy. He faces an immense inner conflict, as his black-and-white view of the world of Good and Evil is "lost in shadows". He describes his discomfort in living further, first trying to convince himself this is because of his hesitance to live in the debt of a thief. After grappling briefly with the possibility that Valjean might ultimately be forgiven of his crimes ("Shall his sins be forgiven? Shall his crimes be reprieved?"), Javert commits suicide by hurling himself over the bridge. He would rather "escape now from the world ... of Jean Valjean," where forgiveness trumps judgment. His suicide is seen by some as a way to show that he was driven by misguided beliefs, rather than pure evil. It has the same tune as "Valjean's Soliloquy," portraying the fact that Javert has seen the wrong of his ways. Regardless, he cannot accept it as Jean Valjean has, which is shown by the piece ending on a note that doesn't agree with the key.