Story’s the Thing: Les Miserables the Movie
Les Miserables was one of those ambiguous things in my life – a literal barricade- that I was never allowed to see growing up because my mom thought it too depressingly sad even for herself. Now, it has been made into a movie made for the masses, a movie that is a world classic, loved by fans and non-musical-loving folk alike, but is performed without the stage magic that only live shows can bring. Can we really hear the people sing?
I have not often found that there are direct parallels between HP fanatics and musical fiends – the two underground societies often love both books and music, but prefer not to tarnish the two by mixing them together. Or, the two tend to see one as favorable over the other. This is an argument at the center of Les Miserables because of its bookish origins but musical world fame. Confession: I have never braced myself and read the entirety of the 900 pages. (Nor have I ever really read more than exerpt… shhh!) For me, Les Miserables is all about the music – what do you think? However, the movie has made me curious about subplots, characters, and themes that I have never known.
That being said, the recent movie with Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russel Crowe, Amanda Sigfried, and the rest of the crew is very 50/50 for me. On one hand, it has such a wonderfully flowing storyline that sheds light easily to the problems and issues of the time (though they did take a few liberties… Eponine is the Master of the House’s daughter??) The movie lets the viewer understand Jean ValJean’s quest as a prisoner who spent an absurd amount of time in jail for stealing a loaf of bread and Javert’s quest to keep the law intact. The theme of freedom is potent – the barricade, the revolution, and dictatorship are almost overshadowed by the lack of freedom when it comes to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in France. Anne Hathaway might not have the best voice of Fantine, but did she ever NAIL the emotion in not being free to control her own body and life after a certain point.
You need to watch it to feel it. Like throwing yourself into a book, you need to get wrapped up in the utter emotion and words of the performance.
So, it is up to you, readers, to help me walk through the wreckage of the barricade – I am quite sure that neither the book lovers nor the musical fans were wholly satisfied with this film and wanted to put up a blockade against it. Was it successful? Did you hear the people sing? I teared up, swooned, and loved the love triangle – but, there is no way a movie could recreate hundreds of people singing the same lines, in unison, with so much emphatic, heartful zeal: “when the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drum, there is a light about to start when tomorrow comes.”
Happy New Year all!