Alternate Titles: L'Homme Qui Rit
Abducted and mutilated as a child by the sinister Comprachicos, Gwynplaine is abandoned and raised by traveling showman Ursus. The diabolical smile etched on his face by the Comprachicos provokes fascination and hilarity, and “The Man Who Laughs” is soon a popular fairground attraction in towns up and down the country. Audiences are enthralled by the tender romance of Gwynplaine and Dea, the young blind woman he saved from a snowstorm.
When he discovers that he is in fact the heir to titles and riches, Gwynplaine resolves to use his position to plead the cause of the poor. But he is confronted by the cynicism and seduction of the rich and powerful. Nobody listens. They just keep on laughing at him.