The end of any year is traditionally when the more prestigious and “artsy” anticipated films hit theaters, and 2012 will be no different. In addition to literature adaptations like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, this December will also mark the arrival of the long-awaited Les Misérables: a cinematic treatment of the multiple Tony Award-winning musical based on Victor Hugo’s famous (and hefty) 19th-century novel.

Les Misérables is being headlined by fellow Tony winner (and Hollywood A-lister) Hugh Jackman as the virtuous ex-convict Jean Valjean. However, in the first set image for the production, we get a look at what the X-Men star will look like as the character prior to (or, perhaps, right after) his release from prison.

Here is the film’s official synopsis, followed by the first pic of Jackman as Jean Valjean:

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

Obviously one of the benefits of bringing a stage musical like Les Misérables to the big screen is that its allows for a more organically-textured and “realistic” portrayal of the production’s characters and settings. That should easily be the case here, as Jackman’s Jean Valjean (with his gaunt face, scraggly beard, messily shaven head, and filthy garb) is quite convincing in his appearance as a prisoner, circa the early 1800s. Kudos to Les Misérables costume designer Paco Delgado (The Skin I Live In), for that reason.

Of course Les Misérables also has the benefit of being brought to life by excellent talent like The King’s Speech director (and Oscar-winner) Tom Hooper and production designer Eve Stewart – with a cast which includes thespians who are both musically-talented and boast great acting chops to boot (including such people as Helena Bonham Carter and Amanda Seyfried in supporting roles). Suffice it to say, this project is in good hands.

Les Misérables arrives in theaters around the U.S. on December 14th, 2012.

Source: The Courier-Mail [via Collider]