Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Things you should know before watching Les Miserables

Victor Hugo is one of Europe’s most well-known writers in history.  Two of his highly regarded works were The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Miserables (The Miserables/ The Victims) which both have been adapted into films by major Hollywood productions. Between the two masterpieces, the later which the French genius released in 1862 is considered to have been more endeared  by millions of fans worldwide.

To this date, the novel has had theatre productions from Paris to West End and Broadway since 1980, and already have 10 film versions in its resume.  

In 1983, British producer Sir Cameron Anthony Mackintosh weaved wonderful music to the classic tale about a French peasant and his quest for redemption after serving years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for starving relatives.  Mckintosh’s gave a perfect soundtrack to every journey of Jean Valjean who decided to break his parole and started his life anew despite being relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade. The stage production of the novel harvested a number of Tony Awards during its decades of successful runs.

Who can escape the moving lyrics of “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own” sang by female protagonists Fantine and Eponine?  Incidentally, our very own Le Salonga played both roles when the play was staged in Broadway in 1996.

Talking about the film adaptations, the first one was produced in 1913 staring French actor Henry Krauss as Valjean. The latest version starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood today conquered this year’s Golden Globe Awards as the film won best musical/comedy movie, while Australian actor Hugh Jackman (Valjean) won best actor for his all-singing role, and co-star Anne Hathaway (Fantine) won best supporting actress. Here’s another trivia: Did you know that Hathaway’s mother also played the role of Fantine on Broadway before she quit acting and devoted herself to parenting? This might also explain where Hathaway got her inspiration for her marvellous take on the character.

Prior to the 2012 Les Miserables, the last major film production based on the book was in 1998 with fine actors Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush as Valjean and Javert, respectively.  The film was not well-received by Hugo’s fans because of the number of differences from the novel it presented. Most evident was the conclusion of the film where Valjean walked away smiling from the place where Javert committed suicide. Of course, we all know that he too died in the story.

But with the way Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) handled the movie, infused the much-discussed live action singing and casted excellent talents led by Jackman, Hathaway, and other award-winning actors like Russell Crowe (Javert), Sacha Baron Cohen (Thenardier) and Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier), even those not devotes of musical theatre will find themselves emotionally manipulated  by the latest Les Mis.

Even the heart of stone will be softened. Even the firmest wall will be moved from its placed.  If you plan to watch the movie, just a little advise:  Bring a hankie because you might wept  with Fantine, have more patience with your seatmate who might sing along with Cossette or laugh hard with Thenardier’s antics, and most importantly, stop be a miserable film critic for a while. There are some flaws but who cares.  Enjoy and stump your feet if you feel like marching with the spirited mob because this film is a cinematic victory on an epic scale. 

Thanks to SM Cinema for the invitation to the red carpet premiere of Les Miserables which is shown nationwide today.  Movie enthusiasts and fans of the widely acclaimed Broadway musical can expect nothing less but the best movie experience in full digital quality at their favorite SM Cinema. If you want to avoid the expected long lines at the ticket booth, I suggest that you get an SM Cinema e-PLUS card. Check the details HERE on how to get one.

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