Les Misérables: returning to the very first obsession I ever had

An obsession from years, years ago

An obsession from years, years ago

When I heard that my favourite musical was being brought to the big screen as a musical, my initial reaction was probably one of trepidation. At that point, I had little idea what they’d planned to do, but from experience, very few actors can actually sing, and not many singers or musical performers can act all that well on the big screen…the exaggeration that is often used on stage can become overkill in close-ups.

But it was Les Misérables, and that meant that I was bound to watch it on opening day in Australia, even though I was exhausted from a full day at work. Thankfully, bar one caveat, it did not disappoint. I think most people can probably guess what that caveat was. Whilst Russell Crowe can act…I’m sorry to say that he cannot really sing…at least, not to the extent of giving justice to ‘Stars’. But other than him, I was really really impressed by what most of the other actors managed to do. Samantha Barks was probably too pretty to be Éponine, but her Éponine was otherwise very convincing; Amanda Seyfried has probably done the impossible making me more interested in Cosette (though the symbolism of the new song, Suddenly, has a part to play in that too); and Eddie Redmayne is right up there with the best as Marius – whilst he took a different approach to Empty Chairs than most musical actors do, I found that softer version much more powerful emotionally. (His exemplary performance stood out even more in my head once I’d seen the 25th anniversary concert, where a certain pop star almost drove me crazy: never again!) Hugh Jackman also managed to carry the film as Valjean. But ultimately, it was Anne Hathaway as Fantine that surprised me the most. Her version of I Dreamed A Dream may well become the one I listen to most.

Credit must also be given to Tom Hooper and what he aimed to achieve. Having the actors sing live on set for each and every take, and recording each piece continuously from start to finish, enabled them to channel the emotions of their characters more completely. They were free to act, instead of having to strive to sync to a prerecorded music track, and they effectively became their characters, bringing them to life before us. The close-ups were a little too close at times on the big screen, but I expect that I won’t notice it as much on a computer screen.

I could really go on for quite a while – and probably would have if I’d written this earlier. But like now, I doubt I’d have been able to do anything more than gush. Maybe in another 10 or so years. In the meantime, however, having just ordered my copy, I am highly anticipating watching it again.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

One Response to Les Misérables: returning to the very first obsession I ever had

  1. Pingback: Les Misérables: do you still hear the people sing? | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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