Saturday, January 26, 2013

You May Hate Me for This...

Here's my two cents' worth on  Les Miserables the movie....

I first met Jean Valjean in high school when I listened to the original soundtrack of Les Miserables.  That was  when I first fell in love with the musical.  My sister and I would always listen to it in the car during long rides.

When I was in college, I read the novel and got to know and understood each of the characters in a different and deeper way.  I fell in love with Victor Hugo.

Since then, Les Miserables has always been my favorite novel, Victor Hugo has always been my favorite author and Jean Valjean has always been my favorite hero.

I fell in love with the musical for the second time when I watched the 10th anniversary concert sometime in the late 90's.  I watched it over and over and the more I watched the deeper I fell.  I thought that Schonberg and Boublil were geniuses.  The melody of the songs captured the sentiment of the novel.  The words were perfect for the thoughts and feelings of the character for each scene.

Everything was perfect except the character of Marius.  The play made him a likable character which he really wasn't.  He didn't care for Eponine at all, even as a friend.  He did not comfort her when she died which was contrary to what was shown in the play as evidenced by the song, A Little Fall of Rain.  Aside from that, it was his fault that Jean Valjean died in the end.

But for me, that was just a minor and forgivable flaw because the musical was just so good.

I fell in love with it again when  I watched the 25th anniversary concert last year.

However,  I watched the movie the other day and honestly, I got bored.  I am always on some kind of "high" whenever I talk about Les Miserables or whenever I listen to the songs but this time, there were parts where I got bored.  I actually fell asleep towards the end of the movie and then woke up again to see the ending which I was able to appreciate greatly.

Some people I know who really do not "know" the musical or who have never read the novel had rave reviews.  I was skeptical about it but I tried watching.

But this time I didn't fall in love again.


I really can't explain.  I think the novel was just too BIG.  When you know the characters deeply, when you know their backgrounds and their thoughts and everything they've been through, the characters get really "large" and they can't fit in the screen.  I don't know if you know what I mean.  But I don't know how to explain it better than that.

So, because the story is just too deep and just too big, and the characters are large, you have to feel the energy that you can only feel from a theater performer performing the songs live.

In theater, everything should be magnified, every expression, every movement exaggerated, everything is big.  I think that's what Les Mis needs.

At least, that's my analysis.

Of course, credit is due to Jackman for a wonderful performance.

Amanda Seyfried was perfect for her role as the beautiful Cosette.

Anne Hathaway's hair should have been dyed blond or gold.  She should have been prettified even when she was working in the factory.  Fantine was a very beautiful lady  and actually that was what made the women envious.  They despised her and hated her for being beautiful.  So forgive me if I just couldn't see Hathaway as Fantine.

Russell Crowe is a great actor but he did not fit the bill this time.  He was not able to capture the spirit of Javert  and maybe his features were just too soft.

I also feel that some of the lyrics of the songs were changed, like "I have bought your soul for God"
was changed to "I have saved your soul for God."  The original was a lot better.  The bishop, in a way, really bought Valjean's soul.  He paid for Valjean's soul with the only silver he allowed himself to have.   That was one of the most beautiful lines in the song or in the whole musical.  I wonder why they had to change it.

As I remember correctly, Fantine lost her front teeth.  In the movie, she still had her front teeth when she died.

In the movie, John Valjean stole a lot of silver.   The Bishop of Digne didn't have that much silver in his house as he just lived a humble life.  The only luxury he allowed himself to have were some silverware and his two silver candlesticks.

Those are just some of the inconsistencies I noticed while watching the movie.

And though this movie still pales in comparison to the novel, it is indeed a far cry from the movie they made with Clare Danes as Cosette.

So, did I love it? No.

Did I like it?  Yes.  For me, the movie had its moments and a copy would be a good addition to any movie collector.

And that's my two cents.

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