Victor Hugo’s capture of the tragedy on the advent of the French Revolution was truly a marvelous take on how love can blanket the most hideous of all realities. And this, being put on stage plus the orchestra and the musicality just sets forward the emotional disposition of the audience. But this time, it has set the production piece on a different scale, now being mainstreamed in pure commercial entertainment, with a star-studded ensemble, converged in what is traditionally “musicale” alongside the promotion and all the hissing of the media.
I will have to shed my own review of the film-musical as everyone had done. I am not any expert in filmography nor am I adept in cinematography. My own take is based on what I have known of the story, my own experience of the film in 1998, some snippets of some musical performances in London via Youtube, and of course my own fulfillment and expectations.
Let me break my own review as follows:
1. The set
As the laborers pulled the ropes singing “Look Down,” I immediately got the goosies. I just probably settled for what is the “musical” on stage. It was amazingly designed. Stellar to say the least, it is. There is nothing else to say about how it was all put. It was neat and just marvelous. The costumes were all appealing to the viewers giving a whimsical twist to what was supposed to be “French” in the olden days. It was like adding contrast and vibrancy to what was Les Mis, not losing particulars and definitions of the characters and the places. Even the lines on the faces, the strands of hair, the facial texture, and all were just the reasons giving anybody the chills.
I was “oh, wow” over Hugh Jackman’s performance. The actual and real voices, non-pre-recorded, made the rawness in the film, yet still giving that edge. It was not over the top, nor was it an overhaul of the original. It was still “it” yet giving a more realistic touch by the sounds the characters made and a little extra on unsung parts. The cracking and saddened voice of Anne Hathaway, the coughing, and all that film-musical jazz just captured Les Mis on a different level.
When an star cast film comes out, it is to nobody’s doubt that it will skyrocket in gross sales. But for some reason, the casting for this film was just locked-in so to say. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were dead-on the “it” Jean Valejean and Fantine. Amanda Seyfried’s greatly resembled the little girl, and consider the character that she got herself in. The Thenardier duo of Helen Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen was wittingly superb. I don’t know, but I couldn’t help but comment while watching the film. They added a comedic touch to the film in contrast to the actual film in ’98 and probably the rest of the musicals ever made in history. What was worth noting was the characters of Marius played by Eddie Redmayne and Eponine as realized by Samantha Barks, both well experienced in the musical world. They just played unpretentiously. It just exuded beyond the lyrics of songs. It was not the typical all-beauty and popularity game being made as standards. Both played the characters really well. The casting crew just thought of the characters so well that it was not just a matter of popularity in film. Both Eddie and Samantha are homies in the musical world.
Without any bias whatsoever, Les Mis on film was undeniably a mundane reality of what was known to be one of the best musicals in history. The delivery, the manner of expressing the song and not just singing it, the held-back sadness, the tears that just fell at the right time, the sudden change of emotions, and the clear depiction of tragedy were a whole success.
5. Plot transition
In the actual musical, it can be difficult to set the scenes from 1 to the finale. At times, the gaps may cause the drag. But this time, it was smooth. It may have been given that filmography can be edited and spliced. But the small alterations made everything work well. What was great was that an actual stage piece was put to real reality in the eyes of the less adept in musicals with the songs and the characters. That is one heck of a job to fulfill. And I must say the story made it a superb hors d’oeuvre in a fine dine French restaurant. Yum.
Future Les Mis
What makes this interesting is how this film had set the stage up somewhere. After being popularized and mainstreamed, Les Mis on film will definitely make changes in other productions in the future without losing the details in the film. There will definitely be a good exchange of comparison since it is not about just delivering but entertaining the audience, and people have seen it on film. The film has actually pop-cultured what was traditionally Les Mis. To the musical fans and devotees of the production, it won’t make any difference as the essence of the piece is what is important. But production crews may have quite a hard time bridging that change and shift since the popularity of the film. Quite a challenge probably in the future, I must say. Even the characters may be given some twist with all adherence to Hathaway, Jackman, and the duo of Carter and Cohen.
Nevertheless, Bravo Les Miserables 2012! I really teared a bit in the dreaming part of Fantine.
Photo Credit: [http://splatteronfilm.wordpress.com, Featured – http://www.lesmiserablesfilm.com]