Sunday, 13 January 2013

Les Miserables and me

My first introduction to the musical Les Miserables came at the age of 12. I was in the school choir, and for a performance at the local theatre we sang a selection of songs from the musical. I wasn't sure about it at first, but after a school trip to see the stage show in London I was completely hooked. I saved up my pocket money to buy the three cassette box set of the Complete Symphonic Recording, which I have listened to countless times. I've seen the show on stage several times, and I was lucky enough to see the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 in 2010.

I've been waiting for the film version of the musical for about 20 years, so I was really excited to be able to watch it on the day of release. I was very apprehensive as to how it would turn out - but I'm pleased to say that I loved it!

I am very familiar with the lyrics and the songs, so I did notice where the film differed from the stage show. There were songs moved about, lines swapped, and new lyrics added. It didn't detract from the story, but I didn't always agree with the decisions made.

The casting was good, I thought that all the actors could sing in tune, although I would have liked to see a bit more passion from Russel Crowe. The orchestra was sometimes a bit drowned out by the singing and the background noises - I did feel that the drama of the opening notes was lost somewhat in the sounds of the wind and sea.

The best solo has to be Anne Hathaway as Fantine singing I Dreamed a Dream. It appeared to be shot in one take, and the emotion in the song was depicted perfectly. Close second would be Samantha Barks singing On My Own.

One thing that I really liked about the film was how elements from the book had been included to flesh out the story a bit and give a bit more background. In particular, scenes were added to show what happens to Valjean and Cosette after they leave the Thernardiers, which I thought worked really well. There was also a shot of Gavroche in tears following Eponine's death - in the book they are brother and sister. In many ways, watching the film brought the book to life for me as well as the musical.

I'd really recommend watching Les Miserables, especially if you are a fan of the musical or the book, you won't be disappointed!



7 comments:

  1. I loved it. I am too a fan of the stage show though I've only seen it once and couldn't tell you exactly if everything was different. The one thing I did love was that, on screen, Marius had character. On stage he's almost a nothing character to me. A bit dull. I thought on the film, he came across miles better, but that may have just been me. Russell Crowe was probably the weak link for me too. Loved Sacha Baron Cohen and Bellatrix Lestrange. Brilliant!

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    1. That's true, he doesn't have much to do on the stage but he came across really well on the stage. They gave him a bit more background story too, with brief appearances by his father and a glimpse at the way he was living, which helped to round him about a bit.

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  2. I can't wait to see the film. I first came across Les Mis musical when a teacher played some of the songs to us in Assembly, although some years before that in Junior School, long before the musical opened at the Barbican, the Deputy Head told us a (very) abridged version of the story based on the original book. Like you, I also heard the soundtrack on cassette (only a 1-cassette version though) before seeing the show. I've seen the stage play at the Palace Theatre in London and also the touring version in Birmingham, which I felt was even better.

    I'm sure the film will differ from the stage version but that should help to make it even more enjoyable, and not stop me from wanting to see the stage show again in the future!

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    1. I hope you get to see it soon! It was nice that it felt like an adaptation of the book as well, and it was not just a straight copy of the stage show.

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  3. I loved it too, like you know it inside out so picked out the changes but they were all forgivable. Think whilst Hugh jackman could cover that his singing was not the quality of theatrical singers with superb acting Russell Crowe failed to do the same.

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    1. Ps also agree absolutely re orchestra seemed quiet at some of the key moments!

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    2. It was a shame that those imposing opening notes were almost drowned out! I agree, Russell Crowe just didn't do it for me.

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