Chills went up and down my spine as the intensity of the opening music for “Les Misérables” filled the movie theater. This was the moment I had been waiting for. As a classic literature and broadway musical enthusiast, I anticipated the day when I could witness Victor Hugo’s literary masterpiece portrayed on the silver screen.
“Les Misérables” was adapted from Hugo’s novel and turned into a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boubill. Movie director Tom Hooper brought this award winning musical to life with the help of Schönberg, Boubill and Herbert Kretzmer, who wrote the screenplay for this box office hit.
The story takes place in post-revolutionary France and follows the life of fugitive parolee Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman). Javert (Russell Crowe), a French inspector, has made it his personal vendetta to capture Valjean and return him to a life of torture and imprisonment. Valjean, determined to make a new life for himself, starts anew and disguises himself as the mayor of a prominent city in France. While there he meets Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a struggling factory worker trying to feed her child. When she is on her deathbed, Valjean vows to care for Fantine’s young daughter Cosette. Eventually Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), grows up and falls in love with Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a young man revolting against the French government during the June Rebellion. This stirring motion picture is full of love triangles, internal battles, daring revolutionary outbursts, an unbridled yearning for hope and endless amounts of mercy given to undeserving antagonists.
The music in the film version of “Les Misérables” is arguably just as moving as it would be live on stage. With all the classics like “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “A Heart Full of Love” and “Master of the House” there is little left out from the stage musical.
Going into the movie, I was worried that the cast would not meet the expectations I had for the quality of the singing. I had doubts they would not perform to the standard I have come to expect from those who are experts in the world of musical theatre. My doubts were eradicated from the beginning, and I was astounded at the quality and strength of the actors’ voices. They annunciated each syllable and sang in such a believable manner that drew me into their singing conversations. Notable performances came from Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks who definitely added their vocal strength to the film.
This movie definitely appeals to many different interests, even those who aren’t fond of musicals. The casting was excellent and rightfully so in order to do justice to this moving tale of a man trying to escape his past, all while creating a whole new life amidst difficult circumstances. My only complaint, which is more of a pet peeve, is that the actors and actresses had either British or American accents rather than French, which could have made the movie more realistic. It is also a 157-minute-long film with a bittersweet ending, but it is able to capture the audience’s attention throughout the whole film. There’s nothing miserable about “Les Miserables.” It is definitely a must see.