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Fair warning: Les Mis is one of my all time favorite books and also musicals. SO.

Okay so let me start by saying that I think they tried their best, but I don't think the director knew WTF he was doing. When it started with the giant ship at the beginning I thought, okay, they are going for Overblown Epic. Well, that's maybe not the way you can go, but it's an easy mistake to make. Then he spent the next two hours doing lots of close-ups and cuts so that the camera could always linger on whoever was singing, sometimes to their detriment. (Amanda Seyfried did a damn good job of having to act AND sing through the framing of a giant wrought-iron gate during her big number. Props, but...geez.)The majority of actors simply didn't have the vocal range to carry off their numbers--Hathaway came closest but even she couldn't hit the high notes for her big number. Jackman chose to act through some of his songs in addition to singing, which sometimes worked and sometimes, didn't.

BTW, Colm Wilkinson, who originated the Jean Valjean role in English, has a small turn as the priest at the beginning and the end and just really underscores with a few lines how vocally malnourished the others were. It made me wince. That said, him being there made me really happy.

Sidewaysedly of that, they made a number of changes to lines and such that I thought were interesting. When the priest redeems Valjean from the police, in the film he says "I have saved your soul for God." The original line is "I have bought your soul for God"--referring to how he's just given all his silver to Valjean to save him from the cops and give him the start to an honest life. Small but interesting change, and I'm wondering why they did it--possibly to make the intense and nonironic Catholicism more user-friendly to contemporary and international audiences? (And let's be for realsies here: while Hugo was very much a humanist he also took his Christianity--which, being French, was Roman Catholic--really seriously. The originators of the musical, themselves Frenchmen, though we now think of the musical as English since it was adopted by the RSC--took a similar stance because, hey, true to the source.)

They also added some filler music lines--Valjean has a song once he's rescued Cosette I don't remember from the stage play, and it's definitely not on the musical soundtrack--and rearranged "Do You Hear the People Sing" to fall after "One Day More" rather than before, which worked out okay. The barricade scene was largely well done, and I liked how they gave a nod to the book by having Enjolras and Grantaire dying together. That said, I wish they'd fleshed that out a bit more: In the book Enjolras was always giving Grantaire crap for being a coward and fairly useless, so when they die together and hold hands as friends it was this whole MOMENT that was beautiful and tragic, and the film didn't explain that which I thought was a real pity.

And ALSO. They assassinated Eponine's character! That pissed me off. She decides during her big number--in which, by the way, she is drenched to the revealing skin for no apparent reason, versus her traditional raggedy coat--to hide Cosette's note. She only gives it to Marius with an apology when she's dying before her last song. Which...WTF! In both the book and the original musical she takes a bullet just getting to the barricade delivering the frigging note. The WHOLE POINT OF HER CHARACTER WAS TO BE THE EMBODIMENT OF PURE AND SELFLESS LOVE! Because the whole story is about the different kinds of love: A parent's love (Fantine, Valjean), love of man (the priest), love of country (Enjolras), love of people (the ABC Friends), love of law (Javert), romantic love (Cossette and Marius), love of money (Thenardier), etc. etc. To deny Eponine the purity of her intentions and love is to deny both her character and purpose--that's why she's there with Fantine and the priest to welcome Valjean to Heaven, HELLO!

Grr. Speaking of Heaven, when Valjean gets there, everyone's...at a barricade. The concluding number is the reprise of "Do You Hear the People Sing" but to actually depict the "world you long to see" as a much grander barricade than what existed is...stupid. And makes no sense. Seriously, I was left wondering if they were getting ready for a war in Heaven and the Winchesters were about to show up. Also, dead!Fantine does NOT have short hair. /grump

Other things that made me grumpy: The Thenardiers not being as funny as they should be (though Sasha Baron Cohen was an inspired bit of casting). Enjolras's hair (he looked like a Hobbit, IDEFK). Russell Crowe.

Sigh.

Finally, I thought Jackman really gave it his all but he was too young for the role. The entire conclusion just seemed awkward and artificial because him going off to die was just...dumb. Even with aging make-up he still looked maybe fifty, and it was a gooooooood fifty. Also when he left his shirt way open in a scene with Cosette I was thinking, okay, who'd be thinking about a puppy like Marius when they've got THAT around the house? Props to Amada Seyfried for not allowing any sexual tension or anything like that into her interactions with Jackman, because seriously, that must have been tough.

I am now going to have to scrub out a Cosette with an Elektra complex out of my psyche. Sheesh.

Comments

( 4 comments — Add your .02 )
browngirl
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
Also when he left his shirt way open in a scene with Cosette I was thinking, okay, who'd be thinking about a puppy like Marius when they've got THAT around the house? Props to Amada Seyfried for not allowing any sexual tension or anything like that into her interactions with Jackman, because seriously, that must have been tough.

http://element-zer0.tumblr.com/post/39023533657/yourobedientservant-did-anyone-else-notice-how

*grins and runs off*
caitri
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
I seriously just spent like the last five minutes LMAO. *G*
morfin
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
Did you ever see the tv version of the book that was made back in the late 70's (I think)? It starred Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins. If you have, how accurate was it to the book?
caitri
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
I have not. FWIW, this is my fav movie version, which riffs on the book more than adapts it. (It's Les Mis + WW2 and should be the compromise film for pretty much every couple, in my humble opinion.)
( 4 comments — Add your .02 )

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