Jan 6, 2013

Movie Magic: Les Misérables

So Les Misérables gets to be my first movie of 2013. It moved me to tears several times and had me in awe at the amazing talent of several of the actors involved! I knew Hugh Jackman could sing, but I had no idea he could sing like that, while acting so well that his Jean Valjean truly impressed me! (will someone just give him the Oscar already?!) And what about Anne Hathaway?! Woah!!! That girl can SING! It's a good (?) thing her role isn't any bigger, or she'd steal the show from Hugh Jackman! (ditto on the Oscar comment)
Also: did it really last 2h 1/2??? The cinema's website had it listed as 1h 1/2, which I thought was a pity ('cause how can you tell that story in only 90'?), and when the movie ended I really felt like it had barely been 90'. I was shocked when my dad said we'd been in there for almost 3h!!! Not once did I look at my watch or feel antsy in my chair. I was enthralled the whole way through! 
 Another little aspect that made me (others might not care so much) very happy: about 90% of the dialogue is either singing or in a slightly chanting voice (usually between songs). Why was I so glad about this? Because they don't dub the singing in musicals here in Spain! So that means there was so little dubbed dialogue in Spanish it barely registered with me and I got to enjoy all the actors' voices most of the time! :o)

Does anyone reading this not know the story of Les Misérables? The movie trailer mostly centres on the amazing songs (see below), and it might trick you into thinking that Anna Hathaway has a more important role than she really does. This is the story of Jean Valjean, a man who served 19 years of forced labour for having stolen a loaf of bread. He is paroled and released shortly after the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the monarchy in France (so 1815). Unfortunately paroled does not mean free. It means his documents state that he is a "dangerous criminal" (so no one will give him work, no town will take him in), and he must report every month to the authorities to prove he is abiding the law. Of course he eventually breaks and is thus forced to commit a more serious crime than he was originally convicted of... but you might say a heavenly intervention forces him to reconsider his life and abandon his hatred and embrace God's plan for him (no this is not a religious movie, although Valjean becomes a very religious man). He becomes someone else, changes, and finds his place in society. Unfortunately having thus broken his parole he is now a fugitive from the law and his nemesis Inspecteur Javert (Russel Crowe, who can't sing but his scenes with Jackman are tense and thrilling, particularly the last one) is relentless in his pursuit of him throughout the movie. All the other characters are secondary. They are there to provide inflection points in Valjean's life, on his path to redemption. Through Fantine (Hathaway) he will meet Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) whom he raises as his daughter and provides him with a new set of motivations in the final third of the movie (in Paris in the 1830s when Revolution is once again in the air). All in all it's a fascinating story of a man's life, one of Victor Hugo's masterpieces. I think I've read it twice, once as a teenager and once again I can't quite remember when (I grew up reading 19th century French literature, yes I know I'm weird!), and both times it was hard for me to put the book down once I had gotten into the depths of the story (like most 19th century novels -of any nation- it's a bit hard -lengthy- to start, but once it gets going it's fabulous!). And now I really want to read it again... but as usual after Christmas I have several new books waiting for me! :p

I'll leave you with the trailer, and the recommendation to GO SEE IT! If you've already seen it share your thoughts with all of us below in the comments! ;o)


12 comments:

  1. I loved the movie and you did an excellent recap of the whole story. I just downloaded the book FREE from Amazon. They had a free day for it last week, so I've just started reading it, in between the 2 other books I'm reading. It's proving a bit slow for me in the beginning, but I'm hoping it will pick up.

    I'll definitely see this again once it comes out on video. I hope Hugh gets the Oscar for this because he did such an excellent job and I can forgive Russel Crowe for his less than perfect singing voice because he more than makes up for it with his performance.

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    1. The book is a bit slow at the beginning, as are about 90% of 19th century novels! (unless it's Jane Austen, but hers are to the point, probably why they're still universally popular now) But it's worth fighting through the beginning to end up being pulled into the story! There's so much more than appears in the musical...

      For your info: at projectgutenberg.com you can find LOTS of completely legal free ebooks! Basically anything written before 1920something. Anything older than 90 years the copyright no longer applies and at that website they have a wikipedia-volunteer-type thing going on, scanning old books, digitalising them and reviewing them before putting them online.

      And yeah, I too can forgive Crowe his singing thanks to his acting! ;o)
      My fingers are crossed for Hugh and the Oscar... but I'm a bit worried (for him) by what I've been hearing about Daniel Day Lewis' performance in Lincoln. Comes out here in a few weeks so I'll get a chance to check it out for myself. Although dubbed I can't appreciate all the intricacies of a performance. *sigh*

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  2. This movie is out everywhere before here! Seeing it on Friday, can't wait!

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    1. I heard about that, weird!

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  3. I can't wait to see this film. It is not on general release here until the end of the week so I'll have to wait until then. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

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    1. It seems so odd that the UK should get it after the rest of us! I hope you enjoy it!

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  4. Several of my friends were just so-so about Les Mis, but not me! I absolutely LOVED it, and I am so glad you did, too. Daniel Day Lewis is awesome as Lincoln, but to me, Jackman deserves it even more. We will see, but if there ever was a year for a tie, this is it! Hathaway knocked it out of the park too, and I even really liked Crowe's singing! :-)

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    1. Glad you think so, I really want him to get the Oscar for this!

      Crowe's singing wasn't as bad as that of some actors I've seen in musicals (thinking of Mamma Mia among others), but it's just that compared to the others in this film... *sigh* But he makes up for it in his scenes with Jackman!

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  5. Cris, since you speak several languages, do you read books in all as well or do you prefer to read in a particular language? I was just curious.

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    1. Hey Kim! Well, although about 2/3rds of the books on the shelves are in English... I think that might have to do with a literary preference of late for Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Historical Fiction/Crime novels, most of the good ones of which were written in English (although I've got some very good historical fiction in Spanish). That might also have something to do with my sisters who do prefer reading in English and some of the books hanging around here are still theirs.

      But as a general rule (whenever I buy a book, doesn't apply to gifts) I will always read a novel in the language it was written, if that language was English, French or Spanish. You might have noticed based on my comments on dubbing in the movies that I don't really like translations! Of course any other language has to get translated to one of those three, doesn't matter which. (I have books by some authors translated in different languages)

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  6. I loved the movie too and really enjoyed watching it! Hugh Jackman did SUCH a great job, love him!! He totally deserves the Oscar! Team Hugh all the way LOL

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Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)