For the past 4 weeks, I've had songs from Les Misérables steadily running through my head and nonstop been humming them under my breath. From “One Day More” to “Can You Hear the People Sing” to “On My Own” to “Red and Black,” it's constant and surprisingly, welcome. (One work day I had Rihanna's “Shine Bright Like a Diamond” stuck in my head. Now that was extremely unwelcome.)
I have seen Les Misérables on Broadway twice, watched the 25th Anniversary Concert in London three times (even own it on Blu-ray), and watched the latest movie in the theaters. Now, I've been tasked by my dear friend Amy to read the book as well.
Haha, this is reminiscent of 2012 weekly updates...
Watching... Les Misérables.
Listening... Les Misérables.
Reading... Les Misérables.
Anyway, I was really happy with the latest addition to the Les Misérables package – the movie. For the most part, I agree with most of the world on the reviews for the performances: Russell Crowe was a weak casting choice for Javert; Anne Hathaway was amazing as Fantine; Eddie Redmayne made me like Marius more than I've ever liked him anywhere; Hugh Jackman gave a phenomenal performance, but I wished he had a stronger singing voice; other key roles – the Thernadiers, Eponine, Cosette, Enjolras, Gavroche, revolutionists – were well cast and the actors gave satisfying, if not great, performances. The movie told a much more complete story than what I got from the musical. It filled in some gaps I didn't even realize I was missing while watching the musical; it also made me realize how much of the story I either forgot or missed, even though I've listened to all those songs so many times.
Overall, I think that the movie is something I'd love to own one day, simply because it tells the Les Misérables story so well. While the Blu-ray of the 25th Anniversary concert is satisfying because the vocal performances are done to perfection, the movie is satisfying in rounding out the amazing story behind the musical. (Oh, one vocal plus for the movie vs. the musical: Marius. Eddie Redmayne > Nick Jonas. But I really do wish they had used a more operatic Javert for the movie, ie. Norm Lewis.)
The reason why I love Les Misérables so much is the musical and the songs. The music makes me envious of the genius of the composer, Claude-Michel Schönberg. I love how certain musical rifts/themes follow specific characters throughout the production, and in certain numbers they all come together (ie. “One Day More” bringing in “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Master of the House”). It's masterful, beautiful, and makes me want to write a musical, as silly as it may sound for me to say so.
In any case, next up is reading Les Misérables, the book. I've heard from Amy that the book is a) an easy read, and b) fills in the story even more. Amy also mentions that some changes made in the movie were more in line with the book than the musical. I have no ambition to try to read it in Victor Hugo's original French, but I will definitely continue reading it in English.