Every Enjolras. Ever.
What is the problem here? Victor Hugo was extremely thorough in his physical description of Enjolras. So why is it apparently so damned difficult to cast this part for movie adaptations, and why do other visual media find it impossible to draw him according to his description? What the hell am I missing here? Is there some widespread conspiracy to portray all revolutionaries as dark-haired and/or ugly dudes?
I needed a laugh the other day, so I started compiling a visual collection of every Enjolras I could find.
In chronological order:
^^^1912 French silent movie. I’m sure he’s in there somewhere. Just, please God, don’t let him be the one in plaid pants. (Oh Jesus, I just looked up at the photo again after writing that sentence, and realized THEY ALL HAVE PLAID PANTS ON………=___=;;)
EDIT: I have subsequently seen this version, and in fact he is the guy in the plaid pants. Sigh. At least he’s the hot one in the plaid pants…
^^^1925 French silent movie. Whoa there, Marlene Dietrich, ease off that makeup a little! Enjolras went a little eye shadow crazy, and Lord knows he needs all that ghostly foundation to distract from the fact that he’s about twenty years too old for this role, but strangely enough, still not the worst Enjolras ever. At least he gets a Le Cabuc scene…
^^^1934 French movie. Wild hair Enjolras. It looks respectable here, but it gets progressively crazier and crazier as the barricades go on. Speaking of crazy, this Enjolras tends to have a bit of the wild eye too–but, you know, he also thinks blowing up his own barricade is actually a good battle strategy, so… (Also, he smokes like a chimney–is that even canon? I don’t think it is…)
^^^1937 Soviet movie, Gavrosh (Гаврош). Not much I can say about this crazy Soviet propaganda film that hasn’t been said already. This is one of the strangest roles for an Enjolras ever in a Les Mis adaptation, but that seems suitable for one of the strangest Les Mis adaptations ever. His hobbies (besides barricading) involve graffiti art and hanging with escaped convicts, and his end comes when he is shot dead by Javert at the barricade. Sadly, he doesn’t live long enough to see his barricade go on to succeed, and the revolution is won without him. Oh well! At least he gets to die in Gavroche’s loving arms, though. ……Wait, what fanfic was I reading again…?
^^^1943 American comic book. He doesn’t have much of a role to play here. And I have to say, this is one of the few times I have had too many candidates for the title of Enjolras. I’m pretty sure this is him, though there’s a guy with a skeezy goatee who also seems to think he’s Enjolras…I’ll just pretend I didn’t see him…
^^^1948 Italian movie, I Miserabili. He exists, and he seems to be the leader at the barricade, but he’s also extremely hard to screencap, because the little jerk moves with the speed of lightning. So this is what you get, a blurry Enjolras getting dragged out to die by blurry soldiers. A GIF might be more appropriate here. As far as his Enjolras abilities, I have only one thing to say: rolling barrels down the street is not a good barricade defense strategy, Enjolras.
^^^1952 American movie. There isn’t an official Enjolras in this one, but this guy sure acts like him, so let’s call him Enjolras. Because this Marius sure as shit doesn’t deserve to be the badass barricade leader here.
^^^1957 French movie. Meh, he’s okay, but too old, too weird-looking, too not-blond. Looks kinda like David Rossi from Criminal Minds, but not as cool. And his personality didn’t leave too much of an impression either, to be honest. But one has to laugh at the awkwardness of the Friends’ introductory scene in this version, which is about as literal (and ineffective) an interpretation of their character descriptions in the book as one could imagine…
^^^1964 Italian movie (miniseries?), I Miserabili. This guy’s a beast, he’s a fucking god. A straight-up amazing Enjolras, even though, like most Enjolrati on this list, he’s definitely too old for the part. He does have an unfair advantage over most other Enjolrati, though–he got to do a Le Cabuc scene, and he rocked the hell out of the speech after it. Talk about an Enjolras moment for the ages, where you can see the crazy and the idealism all expressed in the gleam in those staring, trance-like eyes as he hoarsely whispers his way to the end of that speech–he looks like a fucking crazy biblical prophet foreseeing the apocalypse. Which, I guess, is kinda what Enjolras is after all.
^^^1966 Soviet animated short, “Gavrosh” (Гаврош). I’m actually really fascinated by the animation style in this thing: it’s grotesque and nightmarish and scary as all hell, and everyone looks strung out on meth, but there’s something strange and beautiful and Tim Burton-y to the universe they create. This is Enjolras, though he doesn’t have a huge part to play here (I mean, the whole thing is just over 15 minutes long or something).
^^^1971 Spanish (Castilian) telenovela, Los Miserables. Enjolras is pretty cool in this, not gonna lie. But I might also be a bit biased and prejudiced by that amazing, amazing, amazing coat he chooses to put on his body:
!!!!!! So that, I can say for this Enjolras: he has good fashion sense. There are many who don’t. I won’t name names. Musical!Enjolras.
^^^1972 French miniseries. Cold as fucking ice, this one. Total sociopath and dead behind the eyes. To understate the matter: definitely not a touchy-feely Enjolras. Also, he looks a little too Corsican to be flinging poo at Corsica and Napoleon…
^^^1978 American TV movie. Meh, didn’t leave a strong impression on me. His funniest moment was probably how he died–thought he was being sneaky, he did.
^^^1979 Japanese animated series, “Jean Valjean Monogatari” (ジャン・バルジャン物語). Doesn’t have much screen time, but what little he has is pretty well spent. WTF is that chin, though…? I think when they heard Hugo say “high forehead” they got confused as to which end of the face that was.
^^^1982 French movie. Bad teeth. Funny Saint-Just earring. Likes to bust Courfeyrac’s balls (“you’re an hour late!”), even when Combeferre got to the meeting, like, just two minutes earlier.
^^^1985 Japanese manga. I know next to nothing about this manga–pretty much just what you see here. He has a certain retro shoujo look to him…a little Rose of Versailles-meets-Tezuka going on there. At least he dies properly. (Though I’m guessing there wasn’t much of a Grantaire in this version, since he gets to die alone…) “Republique banzai!”
^^^1985-present, British stage musical. A Tony-winning ass…oops, I mean role, a Tony-winning role. Those tight pants couldn’t have hurt. The musical saw Enjolras’ promotion from a secondary or tertiary character in the novel to one of the most memorable characters in the musical, despite never having his name sung in the libretto even once. Like Eponine (also a Tony-winning role), he receives much more than his fair share of great music and striking moments, not least of which being the original turntable staging of his death scene on the barricade, a piece of stagecraft so creepily beautiful that it drew a round of applause when I saw the show in Japan.
^^^1992 French animated series. Easily the worst Les Mis adaptation ever made, and I certainly don’t just mean the design of Enjolras. Makes for amazing drinking games, though.
^^^1998 American movie. It’s kinda hard to say there’s an actual Enjolras in this movie at all, except in name only. His entire role in the plot has been assigned to Marius instead, to much confusion. This guy is left with a totally thankless job. He’s just there to be the wet-blanket whiny nursemaid to Marius’ oh-so-awesome-impulsive-revolutionary-awesomeness. He also has the dubious honor of giving voice to one of the absolute stupidest lines to ever pass the lips of an Enjolras: [discussing Marius’ sex life:] “After tomorrow you can make love to her as a free man!” Ick, I think I need a shower just from typing that…
^^^1998 Japanese fighting game “Arm Joe.” Do I really even need to say anything here? I think Arm Joe generally speaks for itself. See the entry on musical!Enjolras above, since this is basically him. (Except dropping barricades on people and stuff, like a fucking 1832 Wizard of Oz tornado.)
^^^2000 European miniseries. Marius’ BFF slumber party bro. I have serious doubts about this Enjolras’ maturity and readiness to take on the task of being an Enjolras. Watching the Friends rallying for the revolution is like watching a frat party spilling out into a street riot on a Saturday night: hyped-up grinning Enjolras on a table, going, “Yeahhhh, let’s go build a barricade, u guyz!!! Yeahhhh!” Also, I feel like I’m watching the musical with this “Marius&Enjolras best friends 4 eva” bullshit–I mean, Courfeyrac exists in this version. Why? He sure as shit doesn’t have anything to do.
^^^2007 Japanese animated series, Les Misérables: Shoujo Cosette (レ・ミゼラブル 少女コゼット). This Enjolras made a pretense of being aloof and cool in his first appearance in this anime, but in the end he turned out to be pretty soft and smiley for an Enjolras, and easygoing, and totally understanding when you tell him you’d rather not go to his barricade and get yourself killed. He’s willing to listen to other people’s opinions, he goes through moments of doubt at the barricade, and he doesn’t even get mad while fending off Combeferre’s awkward advances (yay for workplace sexual harassment…?).
^^^2009 Japanese manga. This Enjolras is essentially an offshoot of musical!Enjolras, with all the same totally all-consuming problems. Of course I mean Marius’ love life, not building a doomed barricade.
^^^2010 French bande dessinée. Forget Corsica, son, what you need is some conditioner–some serious split ends there. Don’t you just hate it when men with long hair don’t take care of it? But seriously, this is the best argument I’ve ever seen against Enjolras having a ponytail–he’s so busy with other shit that this is seriously what his hair would look like if it were long.
^^^2012 American-British movie musical. This musical!Enjolras was saddled with the usual musical!Enjolras distractions: having to supervise Marius’ antics; being undermined in his own meetings by drunks and dumbasses; having to wear ridiculously ridiculous gaudy clothes; having to admit, in the end, that in fact he was “on his own” and “has no friends.” Beyond the junk that his stage predecessor had to deal with, he also suffered the indignity of having to fall backwards out of a window and try to make it look cool.
^^^2014 American manga. This Enjolras is pretty much what you have come to expect from a manga version by now. Too much ponytail, of course, and him saying that quote in that speech bubble above makes me want to put my fist through my screen.
^^^2014-2015 Japanese manga. The jury is still out on this one–he’s still a work in progress. So far, doing an okay job at Enjolrasing (despite sporting a ponytail, ew), but the real test will be if, in the animal scheme of the manga, he is represented by an eagle at the barricades. I mean, it’s almost too obvious, right?
^^^2015 British picture book. I love that speech bubble: I care about Les Misérables, Enjolras! But, um, he looks a bit like an unkempt Dumas, complete with big ol’ cup of wine sloshing around. Is that a comparison Enjolras would have wanted to draw…? I honestly doubt it–it’s like Robespierre being asked if he’d like to be drawn like Danton in a picture book version of his adventures.
Okay, so overall, I will give them this: Enjolras seems to be getting blonder as time goes by. Also, the Japanese win the prize here, because they are absolutely adamant that he is blond. (Then again, they think all French people are blond, so…Also, they need to cut his ponytail off, but for whatever “Rose of Versailles” influenced reason, it persists in Japanese versions.)
I think I got pretty much every Enjolras who’s ever existed and who is reasonably available for the getting. If I’ve forgotten any, or if you know of some I can find somewhere else, do let me know, and I’ll add to the master list!
Also, if you have any questions about any of these versions of Les Mis or about their Enjolrati, ask away, and I will do my best to answer them!