"Besides being a feast for the eyes and ears, Les Misérables overflows with humor, heartbreak, rousing action and ravishing romance. Damn the imperfections, it's perfectly marvelous."
What's better than a Musical based on Victor Hugo's novel about the French Revolution? That's RIGHT! A Movie ADAPTATION! Grab your wallets and RUN to your nearest cinemas because the legendary Musical "Les Miserables" is now showing in theaters worldwide! Les Mis revolves around the french revolution with characters intertwined in its chaos. The story follows several French characters over a seventeen-year span leading up to the Paris Uprising of 1832. Basically, a man steals a loaf of bread for his sister's son and all hell breaks loose. The movie speaks for itself really.
|Russel Crowe, Anna Hathaway (wearing givenchy couture) , Hugh (huge) Jackman and Amanda(wearing balenciaga)|
I don't want to give too much about the musical away but here's a hint. I NEVER watch movies twice but I watched this movie three times CONSECUTIVELY . It made me toss around in my bed at night, hungry for another round, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to watch it for the forth time soon.The Vocals were so moving and emotional that I wanted to stand up Halfway through the show and cheer. There were Tears and then there's laughter. Right off the bat, I recommend this movie for those who appreciate the arts or just simply enjoy musicals. It will immediately captivate you , that I promise
Personally, I think that everyone's either very anal about the movie's cinematics or the sheer size of the musical in terms of props and sets. ( which is EPIC considering they had to recreate an era on a scale THAT grand!) .
The movie that revolves around a convicted man names Jean Valjean, had a huge budget of US$61 Million and it reflected on the scale of theatrics as well as the immense attention to detail. Below is an image from the opening scene showing the protagonist Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman . The production Crew recreated a chaotic storm scene that looked larger than life and was simply breathtaking to watch. ALOT of effort was put into this movie. ALOT!
Aside from all the usual issues regarding film making, the true star of the show was the unforgettable music that made the musical that much more of a KICK ASS MOVIE ! If you don't cry when you hear Anna Hathaway Sing " I dreamed a dream", you are definitely soul-less and dead.
When you have a background in both Theater and CHOIR (Such as myself :3) , you begin appreciate the bigger picture . The entire movie's audio ,which includes non-stop harmonized lines , was sung by each actor on set and not in the studio. This was done to preserve the Musical's authenticity and make the movie as emotional as a live musical. It gave the actors alot more freedom to incorporate theatrical acting instead of conventional film acting. Normally , during a film shoot, the audio tracks are pre-recorded and all the actors need to do is mime theme out . This results in the lack improvisation and spontaneity. With live recording, it allows for the cast to get into the moment and do what they feel is right with what they are singing instead of Concentrating on what to mime .
If there's one thing I learned from being in a Choir for 6 years, its that it isn't easy to sing for that many hours and still hold the correct note ( Though I do have criticism for some of the cast. Im sorry Hugh Jackman. ) . The very fact that they can maintain their notes and with such fluid delivery speaks multitudes about every one of the cast's ability to sing. I can't fathom doing that WHILE acting. It was already hard enough for me to sing on stage while stomping my feet for added drama during my SYF performance . Truly, the language of this film comes right from the actors hearts.
The extensive usage of Vibrato (a vocal technique used to make a note extend or sound wholesome) was tiresome to hear during moments when you just want them to sing without being too complicated. Overall, the actors' falsettos were good, especially Russel Crowe's . His was exceptionally full of vigor and consistently sounded warm (even though his character is suppose to be cold and prideful) . The harmony for the most part sent chills whereas any singing that involved more than 3 people was epic. You simply can't resist but to Sing along and try to harmonize with them.
What was also noticeable was the deep-rooted spirituality that had a subtle undertone throughout the film. Aside from the dramatic lives of the characters, There is a strong message about redemption through "God's Grace" .
Here's my breakdown of the characters and the parts they played.
Jean Valjean By Hugh Jackman
Jean Valjean's Character is meant to embody someone who was on the wrong side of the law but on the right side of Human virtues and Ethics. He is introduced immediately in the movie and looks nothing like Hugh Jackman but rather, a suffering convict who's lost everything.
His tone and speed of singing is distinctively sharper and faster than the others . I suppose its to create a distinction between him and the rest, so that the audience can familiarize with Valjean's pitch. Hugh's falsetto resonates nicely and doesn't overpower the background music while his ability to belt high notes is commendable. He especially excels in softening his voice one moment and then gradually increasing in intensity and volume the next , or more so known as cruciando to the musically trained. Jackman is , of course, an old hand at musicals and does well with his theatricality. His Pitch at times however, may sound very nasal and sharp but picks up pretty quick. His lines are APLENTY and occasionally, the way he delivers them sound slightly off from the intended melody. Overall, His voice is a treat to hear, especially the during the part where he does a 4 way harmony with Marius, Cosette and Some random priest . PS, He can sing any sissy song and it will come out sounding like a robust Army cheer. This man oozes testosterone like a water dispenser and I applaud him for that.
Hugh plays the character beautifully, truly making it his own. His ability to deliver his dialog through song was beyond impressive. The closeup scenes allowed for a good viewing of his captivating facial expressions that revealed almost palpable emotions . He did a remarkable job with the role's physicality. To look like a convict, he didn't drink water for 30 hours. That gave him the sunken face needed to look like a jailer. He delivered his role perfectly without overshadowing other cast members, allowing the show to dwell deeper into other fractions of Les Miserables. Note how the bishop of Bigne once played Jean Valjean and during the scene where he passes the candelabras to him as a gift, it represents the symbolic passing of the torch from One Valjean to the next. The continuation of a legacy. How cute :3
Inspector Javert Is Jean Valjean's polar opposite. While Valjean is forgiving and merciful, Javert is ruthless and Cruel. An unforgiving man, Javert Completely devotes his life to the law and only seeks out "blind Justice". He believes not in Repentance, which is why he persists with his cat-and-mouse chase with the escaped parolee Jean Valjean despite Valjean's efforts to make up for his past crimes (he only stole a loaf of bread for his Sister's son. Hardly a crime) . He does, however, show sympathy and pity towards the end of the movie
For someone who rigidly adheres to a particular set of morals and beliefs for decades, he finally changes his thinking when he becomes the object of mercy, the very moral he shuns. This pushes him to the brink of sanity and finally brings him to an intolerable conclusion (of which I will not spoil for those who have yet to watch ) .
Russel's Genius Ability to tell so much without dialogue; through his eyes and his movements, were essential in explaining the story of Javert. Though the Character is meant to be alot more Despicable than how the movie depicted him to be, it was appropriate to have Javert toned down so as to place more importance on Valjean.
Russel Crowe was hands down the best Male voice to listen to. His melodies were deep and husky, his falsetto perfectly pitched and nicely placed. I loved the baritone vibe in his voice. His magnificent voice added alot of richness into the mix of high voices. In a Choir or Musical performance, there consists Sopranos( Sop 1 and Sop 2, Sop 2 being higher) followed by Alto, Baritone, Tenor and finally bass. Usually, the Alto or Baritone is the section that provides the base of the melody and center's the song. In the medley of voices, his was the strong base that strengthened the rest. Having Totally exceeded every expectation thrown at him, Russel Crowe proves once again that he is capable of any role. His best song in the musical was "stars".
All in all, Javert is the Best Male role technique wise and a close contender with Valjean for the delivery of expressions.
Anna Hathaway Aka Princess of Genovia :3 stars as Gentle Fantine
What more can I say about Anna Hathaway. She's pure gold. Her portrayal of Fantine In Les Miserables cements her status as a true artist. Her one-take, sung through rendition of Fantine's emotional Lament "I dreamed a dream" (my personal favorite in the movie) was incredible!!!! INCREDIBLE !!! The song embodies the disappointment that has come to define her life. Her Acting, with a capital A, was beyond moving. Whatever Fantine feels, you feel. Whatever she Sings, you sing. Its no surprise that her performance in Les Mis has earned her the enviable position as front runner for the "best supporting actress" award. Your entire being feels for her suffering and tears will flow from your eyes as she sings her showstopper melody.
Initially, the production heads thought she wasn't old enough to carry the role of Fantine; the suffering mother, but she was determined to get the part. The talented brunette ate only two squares of dried oatmeal paste a day and managed to shave of 25 POUNDS just for the movie!
Her Vocal performance was electrifying. Though she only sang One full song, her delivery was heavenly. In between notes, you hear her voice crack slightly , making her performance even more believable. The texture of her voice was like silk; Smooth and Pleasant. When her singing starts to get intense, her notes become more louder but never to the point of screaming/wailing. She demonstrated immense control and clarity , singing a perfect balance of melancholy and I simply can't explain in words how breathtaking her role was. Here's a video with the soundtrack of her rendition of "I dreamed a dream" . Prepare to Cry!
Amanda Seyfried stars as Sweet Cosette
Young Cosette was left with The Thenardiars while her Mother Fantine goes out to work and support her. Her role ins't much about herself as it is about how much she affects the rest. When Fantine dies, she entrusts Valjean with Cosette , of which Valjean takes her in and loves her like his own daughter. Both Valjean and Cosette have never had a real relationship and thus they bond very quickly.
What makes Cosette interesting is her love triangle with Marius and Eponine. Marius is a Rich man's Son who seeks to overthrow the King while Eponine is the daughter of the Thenardiars. Hence, Eponine and Cosette grew up with each other ,up until Valjean takes Cosette away. Darius is Eponine's intense love interest but Marius fell head over heels in love with Cosette at first sight in a market. Darius asks for Eponine to help find Cosette at night , eventually leading to Cosette and Marius confessing their love for each other while Eponine rots and collects dust :(
The relationship between Cosette and Marius is one of Chastity. It represents a virtuous attraction that is purely driven by love The romanticism between the two is sweet and simple, although it is awkward how Cosette Immediately professes her love for Marius after the first night and immediately intends on marriage. Amanda played the role with the right amount of Innocence minus the helplessness that usually accompanies Cosette. It helps that Amanda's youthful radiance paired with her golden locks makes the character more believable. She completely looked the part of Cosette
As for her Singing, Amanda is Classically trained, which means she has gone through professional vocal training similar to choir training. Her range is extremely high, if not the highest in the entire musical, with Fantine being a close second. While Cosette's younger incarnation sings in sweet and simple manner, Amanda's pseudo-operatic tone is slightly overdone. Mamma Mia!, she'll break glass if her alto voice keeps hitting soprano notes like that ! Her voice completely alternates with Marius, whom has an extremely low vocal range (tenor : the lowest in the whole musical.) Her best song was " In My Life", symbolizing her readiness to embrace adulthood while Valjean isn't ready to let go of her.
Samantha Barks Stars as Strong Eponine
|*crycry* I like him but he friendszoned me *crycry*|
Eponine's story is one of impossible love. She is the Daughter of the Thenardiars and grew up to be friends with Marius, This Character is probably the most relatable for teenagers. She is the ultimate victim of being friend-zoned . I think I can safely say that everyone has been an "Eponine" once right? Leaving yourself vulnerable for someone and not getting that love back. Despite this, you hold on tight to that love even though It's never happening.
Honestly, she had the most polished female voice in the movie. It has a wider tune to it as compared to her counterpart Cosette. Being someone who's also classically trained, she has good control of her breathing (the base of every voice) while her vibrato was amazing when she sung "on my own", belting a note in the song and made it look effortless. She rightfully deserved the"spotlight award" during the Hollywood film festival.
She is a complex character to grasp,possibly the most poignant character the musical has to offer. Also, she was the most under appreciated talent of the whole film. Samantha far exceeded the acting ability of Amanda(Cosette) and Vocally outmatched Anna (Fantine) but inevitably ,she didn't many scenes to showcase the other facets of Eponine's personality.
What really resonates clearly in my mind about this character is her unwavering love for Marius.In the Song "On My Own," Eponine is expression her frustration and longing because Marius, Whom she loves,prefers Cosette, and is using her to help find his true love.She also imagines her life with him. A perfect representation of unrequited love , her moments are Simultaneously sad and gorgeous .Through Eponine's struggles, we get to see the aspect of heartbreak and love behind Les Miserables. Here's a video of Samantha's rendition of "On My Own" as Eponine in a trailer. .
My dream role, Marius Pontmercy played by Eddie Redmayne
Marius is basically the heart throb of the show. A Strapping young soldier, Marius Pontmercy plays Cosette's as well as Eponine's Love Interest . A student who's friends are preparing for the Paris Uprising against the government, Marius is Distracted By Cosette, Falling in love with her instantly. With the threat of a separation looming over the couple's heads, Marius decides to join his friends at the barricade where they will face their enemies in battle.
Its always hard to put romance in perspective because not everyone's a romantic. I found the performance by Eddie to be extremely convincing. When Marius looks at Cosette, his eyes are filled with curiosity & endless wonder. I can't help but root for Him . Amanda and Eddie should just date. They're so perfect together :] !! Its too bad the movie only has one 1.5 seconds long kissing scene between them.
He almost seems to move in parallel with Cosette. Every step she takes, he revolves. I reckon its because since it's recorded on set, the the live music helps them both get into the same state of mind . Their gauge of how intense the moment will be would then match . If not, he would look like he's throwing himself on her and that ain't very glam. Trust me, I've done love scenes during my theater days and they aren't as easy as everyone thinks. There needs to be a shared state of mind between the two actors to pull off a believable romance.
Eddie Redmayne has a surprisingly strong tenor as the lovelorn revolutionary Marius. The tone Compliments well with his character , adding to the notion of manliness and maturity that Marius displays more often than his companions. Eddie can change into his falsetto without much difficulty , something im damn jealous of. The manly yet youthful voice of Marius makes one such as myself squeal with delight every time he opens his mouth. I can see why Eponine is soo GAGA over him xD He is So Smexy!!
His Rendition of "empty chairs at empty tables" pulls out his theatrical side The melancholic delivery of the song coupled with his heart wrenching facial expressions made the performance a moving one. It was as if he really did watch all his friends die. By far, the best supporting actor in the musical . AND im not saying this because I think he's hot!
In a netshell, I loved the movie with every fiber of my body. At every turn, there was always something to look forward to. Les Miserables Went above and beyond every expectation . Putting it to rest, Les Miserables is the best musical of all time.
And with that, i end this post with a few stanzas from the musical I will never forget.
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
who are climbing to the light.
For the wretched of the earth
there is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
and the sun will rise.
I thank everyone who's been reading my blog . Im surprised alot of them are still from the US and its rising every day. Drop me a comment of an email at email@example.com or tweet me at @samybonbon if you have anything you want me to write or If you want to say hi :DI openly accept hate mail too !
2012 is ending in just 2 days time. Do you have plans to party the night away or are you going to take this chance to have a serene and relaxing time with loved ones? Maybe at the beach or in the club? Whatever it is, let's not forget how far we've come since the start of 2012. We're all a year older and hopefully alot more wiser than before. Its time to forgive ourselves and start anew with fresh goals and clean slates.