Sunday, January 6, 2013

Struck to the bone in a moment of breathless delight.

Photo via Instagram

You know what my biggest first world problem is? I've been out of the country for the two biggest movie releases of my life: The final Harry Potter film and Les Miserables. However, I saw both movies the day after I flew back to the U.S., which means I was able to see Les Mis on New Year's Day. I didn't expect the movie to be better than the play; Les Mis will always be a stage production first for me, then a movie. (And, of course, a book.) However, I was very impressed by the movie and definitely plan on buying it when the DVD is released. It will be a great movie to have running when I'm doing other things around the house. I could easily write pages about the 2012 adaptation, but I'll just share my brief thoughts here:

The Songs
My biggest (and almost only) problem with the new movie was the lyric changes. I usually listen to the 1987 original Broadway cast recording, so maybe the movie used songs from a different stage version, but I'm pretty sure the words are always the same. Most of the time, the lyric changes were very minimal (which made me wonder why they even changed them in the first place), but several of my favorite lines disappeared from the songs altogether ("I broke a windowpane"/"For the army we fight is a dangerous foe"/"God, Eponine, the things you do"). I would be sitting there in the movie theater, biting my lips the entire time to remind myself not to sing, of course—that is, when I wasn't sobbing uncontrollably in anticipation of the more tragic parts, i.e. 80 percent of the movie—and the song would just skip forward! A travesty, I tell you. Why turn a musical into a movie if you're not going to preserve the songs? Can someone more movie-minded than I explain this to me?

There also appeared to be several songs that were added to the movie, or lengthened. I'm guessing the producers did this to explain things to the audience, but we don't have that further explanation in the live production and we still know what's going on.

The Singing
All that being said, the singing was phenomenal. Aaron Tveit is fabulous as Enroljas, who became my new favorite character after I saw the 25th anniversary production in Albuquerque last May. If you've been following my blog for a while, you already know that I was excited about Eddie Redmayne. He made Marius' cluelessness a little more forgivable purely based on freckle count. And though I was a little worried about the strength of Russell Crowe's singing compared to Hugh Jackman's in the beginning, he held his own during the rest of the movie. The female singer/actresses were also very talented (I loved the directing of the factory scene during "At the End of the Day"!), and Amanda Seyfried wasn't on screen that much, so I didn't have too much room to complain. To her credit, she did sound an awful lot like Judy Kuhn.... Finally, young Cosette and Gavroche were very impressive; I can't wait to see where their careers take them.

Fun fact: Colm Wilkinson, the man who plays the bishop in the movie, is the original Jean Valjean! So of course he's fantastic. :)

The Story
Remember when I said the lyric changes were almost the only problem? Well here's my other one: They messed up the Marius/Cosette/Eponine storyline! And that, my friends, is just one timeline you do not mess with. Gah. If they had to change anything, I wish they could have had Marius—or at least an apparition of him—with Eponine for "On My Own." I always wanted to give her that.

P.S. — I finally watched the trailer, and I'm glad I didn't see it beforehand. The song sounds a little weak when you can't see Anne Hathaway singing it.

Have you seen Les Mis? Do you plan to? Are you a fan of the musical production?


Jessica Bucher said...

Enroljas was a character that I never gave much thought to before, but this guy brought SO much to this character! He was an instant favorite of mine. I'm glad you liked it, but I mean, what's not to like??
I also felt that Anne Hathaway made I Dreamed A Dream...a song that I didn't care much for before. Ugh, the whole thing was just too good. I want to go see it again so bad!

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Colette said...

I loooooooooooooooooved the movie. My friend and I saw it on New Year's Eve Day. When it was over, I told her "I almost feel guilty for crying more during this than I did during the play." Everything with Gavroche? Killed me. KILLED me.

I totally agree about Enroljas. I wasn't as won over by Javert, but I kinda hate Russell Crowe anyway...

Annie F said...

I loved Marius, usually he is such a weird role but Eddie Redmayne did such a great job, he was the biggest surprise for me! I knew I would love Aaron Tveit, since I've loved him since he was in the musical Next to Normal (highly recomend you check out the music from that show!).

I wasn't a fan of Russell Crowe, but I think Amanda Seyfried takes the award for worst signer in the cast, her voice was obviously weaker than everyone else's.

What did you think of the new song they put in? Going into it, I thought I would hate it, but it actually wasn't too bad.

I've finally decided to actually read the book, I've started it a few times, but this time I'm determined!

Whitney said...

My husband actually would agree with you on the lyric thing! They changed a lyric in "At the End of the Day" too. They changed "winter" to "plague" in the first verse. Makes no sense since the whole verse is about it being cold! Marius was great. Eddie had an amazing voice and he seriously made me cry with "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables." (Can you tell I've turned into a Les Mis nerd over the past few months?! lol!)

I do have to disagree with you about one thing though: we saw the stage play in November and I thought the movie explained things a lot better. I was pretty lost during the play =X

Jyndia said...

Loved the film and agree it was better than the trailer had portrayed it to be! Thanks for the recap on the film... so. damn. amazing!!!

New follower, found you over at The Book of Meghan!