Friday, 18 January 2013

Les Miserables (film)

Going to see the stage show of Les Miserables was a family treat a few years ago and I was absolutely blown away by it. The staging alone is fantastic and then when the stirring music, powerful singing and atmospherics are added in, it is simply wonderful. I had vaguely planned to take my partner to see the show as well - an excuse for me to see it again really! - but hadn't got around to it and, now there is a film version, I'm hoping he'll love the film enough to want to see both (unlike Phantom of the Opera where he walked out of the cinema half way through). I do have a couple of concerns: 'starring Russell Crowe' being one and 'by the director of The King's Speech' (Tom Hooper) being the other. Not to say that I disliked The King's Speech, because I did enjoy watching it, but the two films are very different prospects and I do hope this version of Les Miserables hasn't been too much altered for the screen.

Les Miserables was originally a French novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862. The stage show also originated in France. Its music was composed by by Claude-Michel Schönberg and the original French lyrics were by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. An English-language libretto was then written by Herbert Kretzmer and the musical opened to very bad reviews at the Barbican in 1985. Fortunately audiences largely ignored the negative press and the globalisation of Les Miserables is a prime example of word-of-mouth marketing success.

In 1815, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole after being imprisoned for 19 years for stealing bread. He is sheltered by the Bishop of Digne (Colm Wilkinson) but steals from him during the night. When Valjean is arrested soon after, the Bishop saves him by saying the silver was a gift. As a result of the Bishop's kindness, Valjean breaks his parole and begins a new life as a factory owner, but cruel prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) vows to track down his former prisoner and return him to gaol. The cast also includes Anne Hathaway as desperate mother, Fantine, Helena Bonham Carter and Saha Baron Cohen as the publicans, the Thenardiers, Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit as idealistic students, and Amanda Seyfried as the Fantine's daughter, Cosette.

Cineworld from 11th Jan.
Curzon from 11th Jan.
Hailsham Pavilion, from 1st Feb.