Posted in Listening to Music, Watching Movies

The Anticipation of “Les Miserables”

If you love movie trailers as much as I do, then you should know that there’s an app for that!  It’s Apple’s iTunes Trailers, and it has every current and upcoming movie trailer on it that you could possibly want to see.  I check it about once a week to see if there’s anything new that’s been added, just so I can keep up with the times.

This week’s Trailer of the Week:  Les Miserables.

Like many other middle school choir geeks, I had a crush on the little Broadway musical Les Miserables.  I was first introduced to it when I was in choir (altos represent) and we sang a Les Miserables medley.  I immediately fell in love with the songs, and after we watched a video of the stage musical, I immediately decided that Les Miserables was the best thing ever.

And like every other 13-year-old, semi-Emo and slightly misunderstood girl, I identified with the character Eponine.  She was, after all, the girl who loved a boy who loved another girl (damn that annoying, prissy Cosette!!), and she got to sing the best song in the whole show, “On My Own”.

le weep sigh

*side note:  One of the first clips I ever saw of Glee before the show came out was of Lea Michele singing “On My Own” into a hairbrush while looking in the mirror, and I thought, Holy s***, that was me when I was 13!!!

Of course had I known that in the book Eponine was described as “a pale, puny, meagre creature, with a hoarse voice like “a drunken galley slave’s” due to it being “roughened by brandy and by liquors.” She now wears dirty and tattered clothing that consists of a chemise and a skirt.  She also has missing teeth, mangled hair, bony shoulders, heavy brooding drooping eyes, and a premature-aging face with only a trace of beauty lingering.

Yowsas.

Anyway, I’ve seen many different versions of this musical. – The first big one was in celebration of the 10th Anniversary, which I had on video, and starred “The Dream Cast” of the show which, if you know musical theater, is amazing: Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, Philip Quast as Inspector Javert, Michael Ball as Marius Pontmercy, Lea Salonga as Éponine, Judy Kuhn as Cosette, Ruthie Henshall as Fantine…the nerdy, drool-worthy list goes on.

I got to see the musical on stage about five years ago in Los Angeles, and even though I don’t remember anyone who starred in it, I remember getting all emotional during the songs.  I felt like an Emo adolescent all over again.

And the most recent version I’ve seen was the 25th Anniversary concert that aired on PBS in 2010.  I was so excited to see Lea Salonga back in it, this time as Fantine (only she’ll always be Eponine to me), and was a little surprised to see Nick Jonas (yep, a freaking JONAS BROTHER) as Marius.

It’s the truth.

He wasn’t amazing in the role – you could tell he doesn’t exactly have a voice that can reach the back row of the theater – but he did what he could with it, and you could tell he was really trying.  And I guess better him than his brother Joe…

You may be surprised that a film based on the musical has never been made.  There was a 1998 film starring Liam Neeson and Claire Danes that was based on the Victor Hugo book, but since there was no music, I had no interest in seeing it.  Apparently it’s hard to make and market a movie that contains 90% singing and 10% dialogue.

But after Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Baker Street were made into successful musical films (well, I thought they were successful), it seemed that a musical adaptation of Les Miserables as a film was just around the corner – even though one had been stuck in DEVELOPMENT HELL since 1988.

The movie – finally to be released this December (Merry Christmas, fellow musical nerds) – stars a handful of awesomeness:

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

Russell Crowe as Javert

Anne Hathaway as Fantine

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette

Eddie Redmayne as Marius

Samantha Barks as Eponine

Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier

I know that Hugh Jackman can sing, I have no doubt that Russell Crowe can sing, and Helena Bonham Carter showed just how crazy talented she is when she starred in Sweeny Todd.  I have no idea who Eddie Redmayne is except for the fact that he starred in a bunch of British films and British TV movies and used to model for Burberry (in other words, he’s the most British person in the world).

British?  You betcha.

Samantha Barks played Eponine in the 25th Anniversary Conert – yep, she got to pretend she was in love with a Jonas Brother!  And while I will always be a little biased towards Lea Salonga, I thought Samantha Barks did a really good job – she looked the part (well, not the book’s description of the part, of course) and she had a great voice.  I’m really glad they cast her in the movie, too, because the part almost went to – wait for it – Taylor Swift.

And then we have the diary-writing Princess herself, Anne Hathaway, as Fantine.  Here’s how the book describes this character:

“Her splendid teeth had evidently been endowed by God with one function – that of laughing. Her thick blond tresses, inclined to wave, and easily escaping from their confinement, obligated her to fasten them continually. Her rosy lips babbled with enchantment. The corners of her mouth, turned up voluptuously, seemed to encourage audacity; but her long, shadowy eyelashes were cast discreetly down towards the lower part of her face as if to check its festive tendencies. Her whole toilette was indescribably harmonious and enchanting. Fantine was beautiful, without being too conscious of it. She possessed two types of beauty – style and rhythm. Style is the force of the ideal, rhythm is its movement.”

And here’s what she looks like in the movie:

Okay, granted this is towards the end of her life when her health has deteriorated and she’s about to die.  But the Fantines I’ve seen in the past have always looked rather normal in the time of their death.  This Fantine scares the crap out of me.

Anne Hathaway also has the challenge of singing the other uber-popular song from the musical, “I Dreamed a Dream”.  This is what she is singing during the trailer, the only audio you hear as you see various clips from the film.  I’ve heard Anne Hathaway sing before in the movie Emma Enchanted, and I know she can carry a tune.  But I’ve heard people like Judy Kuhn, Lea Salonga, Idina Menzel, and Lea Michele blow this song away.  The bar is quite high.

And for some reason I still picture Emmy Rossum in this role.  But I guess I’ll have to wait and see how Catwoman does.

Along with The Hobbit, this is the other movie for which I’m so excited this holiday season.  And based on the cast and the teaser trailer thus far, I think it’s going to be a good one.  And the soundtrack is going to be killer.

Let’s just hope they don’t turn Cats into a movie now.

Author:

I have way too much information floating around in my head, which is why I write things down. I find that books, movies, music, and television are much more interesting than my local news.

7 thoughts on “The Anticipation of “Les Miserables”

    1. Before I’d ever seen the musical “Les Mis”, I saw the 1998 film starring Liam Neeson and Claire Danes that was based on the Victor Hugo book. I couldn’t believe it could be made into a musical, so while in London I saw it on stage and fell in love with the music. Seeing the movie first helped to fill in the blank areas where words were flashed to explain the scenes. The movie is truly “Worth Seeing”, despite the lack of music. Cheers!

  1. That’s good to know – I never thought of what it would be like to see it without knowing the music. Interesting point of view! Now I’m going to have to watch it…. 🙂

  2. Well, Anne Hathaway isn’t blonde, but I think the horrible way she looked at that point expressed how much her life had gone to hell. From the versions I heard, I did not find one I have liked better yet. So beautiful:)

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