Sometime in 1997, my mom heard news of a movie coming out. It was being released in May of 1998. It was Les Miserables with Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman, and Claire Danes. My mom was so excited. She had hoped for years that they would release a movie version of the stage musical and she just knew that was this movie. Mom was extremely disappointed when the movie came out and it was not the musical on film. So of r years, I have watched for news of Les Mis to come out on film. In January of 2005 they released the film version of The Phantom of the Opera. My mom loved it because she could finally understand what she had seen on stage. She hoped more and more for the theatrical release of the musical.
Mom didn't get to enjoy the theatrical version. She died in March 2006 not knowing that the movie was actually going to come out one day. Last night I got to enjoy watching the movie version of the musical that my mom taught me to love. I have spent years singing along to the music. I have a recording of the complete symphonic recording. I know virtually every word to every song. I know the exact moment when my recording will skip on Bring Him Home. Growing up we had a record (the vinyl kind) of Les Mis. I remember reading the lyrics from the record cover. I used to sit and sing song to Castle on a Cloud. I listened to the highlights cd with the white cover. I listened to the complete symphonic recording. I watched the 10th anniversary and the 25th anniversary recordings. I have seen the stage version multiple times in Chicago and Salt Lake City. I think is is safe to say that Les Miserable is one of my favorite collections of music. I could literally sit and listen to the music over and over again all day.
Sitting in the theatre last night brought tears in my eyes. Just being there and knowing I was getting to see exactly what my mother so badly wanted to see in her lifetime. Then as the first beats started I knew I was in for a treat. I went to the movie knowing that it wasn't the stage musical. I bought the highlights CD for $2 off Amazon when it was released. And I have listened to it and critiqued it in my mind a bit. I knew it wasn't going to be the same, but I was so excited to finally see it. I thought that they did an absolutely wonderful job with the story. There were a few things I wasn't overjoyed about, but I thought that they really did do a good job.
My thoughts-- (just mine, of now value to anyone else and surely not based on anything spectacular!)
Hugh Jackman was magnificent. The emotion he pulled into the character of Val Jean was amazing--all while maintaining the beauty of the music and singing. I think he was perfect for the role. And the finale...I can't speak enough good for how it was done!
Russell Crowe- eh... I think he fit the character body wise. I think he sang well, but I don't think he sang well for Javert. To me, Javert has a certain degree of anger when he sings. In the stage versions they really capture that anger. I didn't feel like Crowe did and that made me sad. His image though was spot on for the Javert. So I have. Mixed feelings.
Anne Hathaway was amazing. I had heard that her mother played Fantine on stage and Hathaway did a wonderful job living up to her mom I think. I know that in the hair cutting scene she actually cut her hair. She felt that she wanted to really capture that emotion and I think she really did. Those were probably completely real tears she had during that song. I know I would cry if I had to cut my hair off! Every portion of that movie with Fantine was wonderful. She really did an amazing job capturing the character. She must have learned well from her mother.
Amanda Seyfried was good. I told Justin that I thought she had too much vibrato when she sang, but as I listened to the symphonic recording, Cosette does have that when she sings. Maybe it is just that Seyfried has a little more than I like. I don't know, she did a good jobs and she can sing....
Samantha Barks- how can i critique her. She knows the part so well and did an amazing job. She carried the character from the stage to film beautifully. I got a different feeling from the movie than I had gotten before. As I watched and listened to her singing throughout One Day More and on to her death, I felt like she was ready to die if Marius died or if he left with Cosette. I had the thought that even if she hadn't died, she would have because she wanted nothing more from life because she couldn't have Marius. It was as if the way h death came about was a relief for her.
Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter- ah, perfect! They played the Thenardier's perfectly. Over the top and extravagant.
Eddie Redmayne- did a good job as Marius. I was happy with him.
Colm Wlkinson- ah Val Jean turned the Bishop...how could he not be so far past perfect. I liked seeing him throughout the rest of the movie. Knowing that he was still connected with Val Jean gave a different perspective on the life he led.
The young girl that played Cosette did a wonderful job. She looked the part and she sang the part.
Everyone else, I really was happy with.
Now to the few changes---
"A man who only learned to love, when you were in his keeping." Vs "your mother gave her life for you, then gave you to my keeping." Both lines are wonderful, but they focus on different aspects of the story. A mothers sacrifice and a mans repentance.
Suddenly- I loved this addition to the musical. I think that it really showed the shift of his love from nothing to this little child who had barely entered his life. I loved it.
There were others, but I was happy with how the movie turned out. I wish my mom had been there to watch it with me.
I do want to mention... The finale... Again... Was absolutely amazing. I kept thinking about Justin's dad and my mom laying on their death beds and saying those same things. And then thinking about the loved ones who had gone before them standing at their side and showing them where to go. It was emotional for me... Very emotional...I cried.
Missing loved ones sucks sometimes.
And my favorite line of the musical, movie, etc...
"Remember, the truth that once was spoken,
to love another person is to see the face of God."
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