A gallery of stellar artists wages a Sisyphean battle against musical diarrhea and a painstakingly repetitive visual approach in the big-screen version of the stage sensation Les Miserables. victor hugo‘s monumental 1862 novel of decades-long persecution, social inequality, family breakdown, injustice and redemption began its musical life on stage in 1980 and has been around ever since, a success story which bodes well for this lavish star-studded film. But director tom hooper has turned theatrical extravagance into something that has far less to do with the rigors of existence in early 19th-century France than with actors moving mightily and singing their hearts out. his forces. As the enduring success of this property has shown, there are large, emotionally sensitive segments of the population willing to swallow this sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.
photos: ‘les miserables’: anne hathaway, hugh jackman pose for thr
The first thing to know about these les miserables is that this creation of claude-michel schonberg, alain boublil and jean-marc natel is, with momentary exceptions, entirely sung, more like an opera than a traditional musical. while not terrible, the music soon begins to blend to the point where you’d be willing to pay the price of admission again just to hear a nice, terse exchange of dialogue between hugh jackman and > russell crowe instead of another noble song that sounds a lot like the one you just heard a few minutes earlier. there were 49 identifiable musical numbers in the original program, and one more has been added here.
What greatly complicates the problem is that Director Hooper, in his first appearance since taking Hollywood by storm two years ago with his breakthrough, The King’s Speech, stages virtually every scene and song the same way, with the camera swooping down on the singer. and thereafter covering him or her and any other participants with suspended close-ups; There hasn’t been a major musical so fond of close-ups since Joshua Logan attempted to photograph Richard Harris‘s tonsils in Camelot. almost any great musical one can think of features sequences shot in different ways, depending on the nature of the music and the dramatic moment; For Hooper, all the musical numbers justify the same monotonous approach of shoving the camera directly in the artist’s face; closer and his breath would fog up the lens, since, in this case, the actors sang live during the shoot, instead of being pre-recorded.
With the undoubted support of Hooper, the eager actors give it their all here, for better and for worse. The “live” vocal performances bring an extra vitality and immediacy that is palpable, although it cannot be said that the technique is necessarily superior in principle, since it was also used by peter bogdanovich in his famous madness, in last love.
photos: inside the fight to bring ‘les mis’ to the screen
one of the main interests of the film is to discover the singing abilities of the remarkable actors gathered here, apart from jackman, whose musical prowess is well known. Crowe, who early in his career starred in the Rocky Horror Show and other musicals on the Australian stage, has a fine, throaty baritone, while eddie redmayne amazes with a voice of enchanting clarity. Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean on the London and New York stage, appears here as the benevolent Bishop of Digne.
On the female side, anne hathaway dominates the early stages, screaming anguish like the doomed fantine. Playing Ella’s grown-up daughter Ella Cosette, Amanda Seyfried delights with bell-clear high notes, while Samantha Barks, as an enamored eponine, is a vocal powerhouse. .
then the problem is not the singing itself at all, but that most of the numbers are released at the same level of sonic boom and filmed in the same way. The big occasion where Hooper tries something different, sandwiching between nearly every main character at the crossroads in the Act 1 climax “One More Day,” feels like a pale imitation of the electrifying ensemble “Tonight” in the film version. from west side story.
It is quite possible that no book has been adapted more often to other media than Hugo’s epic, one of the longest novels ever written. About 60 versions have been made for the big and small screen around the world, beginning with a performance by the Lumiere Brothers in 1897, and orson welles making a seven-part radio version in 1937. in 1985, five years after the French musical’s Paris debut, the English-language production, with a new libretto by herbert kretzmer and direction by trevor nunn, opened in london, at Less-than-stellar reviews, and it’s still playing. The New York counterpart sold out houses between 1987 and 2003 and, with 6,680 performances, ranks as the third longest-running musical in Broadway history (it reopened in 2006 and ran for another two years).
photos: world premiere of ‘les miserables’: hugh jackman, anne hathaway celebrate the big screen adaptation of the musical
At the center of the story is Jean Valjean (Jackman), a convict who has served 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread and trying to escape and, upon being released, redeems himself under a new identity as a factory owner. wealthy and socially liberal mayor of montreuil-sur-mer. But his former prison guard, Javert (Crowe), now a police inspector, discovers him and, over a period of 17 years, mercilessly harasses him until the day of truth on the barricades in Paris during the June uprising. 1832.
Woven through it is endless cliffhanger about Valjean raising Fantine’s beautiful daughter, Cosette (isabelle allen as a child, seyfried as a young woman); the latter’s ill-fated romance with Marius (Redmayne), a rich boy who became an idealistic revolutionary; Ella’s handsome comrade-in-arms enjolras ( Aaron Tveit ) and the earthy Eponine, who sadly accepts that her beloved Marius is in love with Cosette. well and truly having rumbled in the film version of sweeney todd, helena bonham carter and sacha baron cohen gallumph through as small-time hustlers in wide-open comic relief .
Strikingly gaunt in his opening scenes while still doing grueling prison work, Jackman’s Valjean later shows a more fit and elegant figure after his transformation into a gentleman. His defense of the abused Fantine and subsequent adoption of his daughter represent the fulcrum of Hugo’s central theme that a man can change and redeem himself, as opposed to Jalvert’s vehement conviction that once a criminal, always criminal. the passions of all the characters are simple and deep, which explains much of the play’s enduring popularity across cultures.
photos: behind the scenes of thr’s ‘les miserables’ cover
but it’s also a movie that, when all the emotions are repeated with unvarying intensity for more than two and a half hours on a giant screen, feels very monotonous, if dizzying. Subtle and nuanced are two words that will never be used to describe this Les Miserables, which, despite its length, fails to adequately establish two critical emotional links: the one between Valjean and Cosette, and the latter’s mutual infatuation with Marius. , which has no base at all.
Meeting with King’s Speech Cinematographer Danny Cohen and Production Designer Eve Stewart, Hooper has beautiful interior sets at his disposal. however, with the exception of a few squares and streets in French cities, the predominant exteriors have an obvious cgi look. Her predilection for wide-angle shots is still evident, albeit more restrained than before, but the editing of Melanie Ann Oliver and Chris Dickens often seems messy; the musical numbers sometimes build appropriate visual climaxes in conjunction with the music, but more often than not the cut seems almost arbitrary, moving from one close-up to another, so that the scenes don’t stand out but simply blend together. /p>
The actors have an ideal cast but, with a couple of exceptions, take stage-sized turns for the screen; this greatness might well be widely admired. Jackman finally gets to showcase on screen the musical talents that have long thrilled live musical theater audiences, Hathaway bravely gets down and dirty and gets her hair cut off on screen in the deal, and Redmayne impresses as a frontman. of high-caliber singing, but there’s little else that’s inventive or surprising about the performances. still, there is widespread energy, passion, and commitment to the cause, which for some might be all that is required.