Les Miserables from Stage to Screen

Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.

By Alex Allyn ‘13
EE Staff Writer

Ask any true theatre kids around, and when asked what their top three musicals are, Les Miserables is probably up there. So, when word came out that it was being turned into a movie, you can bet every theatre student felt like their individual “I dreamed a dreams” had come true. What became the biggest story around this production was not who was cast as whom or who was the biggest diva on set, but the music itself. What made this movie musical so different from others was that all the singing filmed was done live, not recorded.

All other movie musicals have dubbed the actors with a previously sung CD track. Without a prerecorded track in the way, everything could be more pure, and emotions could be rawer.

“This should lead to more honest performances” says director Tom Hooper.

It is applause worthy that Mr. Hooper is so brave with his choices. In two popular movie musicals, Dreamgirls and Moulin Rouge, both are more than adequate entertainment even while being dubbed with a CD simultaneously. At the time, it did not seem to affect the performances. In fact, Jennifer Hudson won every award possible that season for her role as Effie in Dreamgirls, and Ewan McGregor was nominated for his turn in Moulin Rouge!

But, after seeing Les Mis, as it’s known for short, many people realized filming the singing live was the better option. Anne Hathaway, especially, has gained a lot of buzz for her role as Fantine in the movie, and it is questionable if she’d still get the same amount of buzz had she not sung “I Dreamed a Dream” live. The vocals were not 100% perfect, but it only added to the pain and sorrow of the scene. Truthfully, if you had just gotten your hair and teethed pulled for money, sold your body into prostitution, and lost your self respect, you would not be belting perfect notes. It’s safe to say Les Mis has taken the theatre world by storm.

In addition to the music, once the movie started, it entrances the viewer. The visionary beauty was overwhelmingly awesome. It totally looked like Jean Val Jean was one of the many prison crew members pulling a ship into the dock and it was actually happening. Yet, the movie has been getting mixed reviews. People either love it or hate it.

Hugh Jackman is already very famous in the Broadway world. He’s hosted the Tony Awards, which to the none theatre person is the Broadway equivalent of the Grammys or Academy Awards and has been in multiple Broadway musicals and even won a Tony. He was a natural choice for the leading role as Jean Val Jean. In my opinion, he was close to perfection. His singing itself was extraordinary. He could probably sing the phone book and make it sound beautiful. His acting performance was stellar as well. Such a role is so demanding, and he delivered a great performance constantly. With lots of solo songs and monologues, he was great.

And then there was Anne. OH ANNE. Many girls already know her as the Princess of Genovia from the movie The Princess Diaries. Fantine really only has one song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” and then she’s gone till the end of the show. However, if done right, that song can steal the entire show. And boy, did it. Her performance was in one word, revolutionary. It was so honest, heartbreaking, and raw that it was hard to picture anyone else who could ever play that role as good as her. Was her singing perfect? No. But, that’s what added to the emotion. Anne was perfect and hopefully there is an Oscar nomination waiting.

She had better win.

One Response to Les Miserables from Stage to Screen

  1. Lia Horyczun says:

    I love the way you expressed yourself with character and gave many detailed facts about Les Mis. This review put Anne Hathaway in a positive light.

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