Billed as a “Musical Phenomenon,” Les Miserables (the movie) will open in theaters December 25th, 2012. Despite the cost of $61 million, the advertising, compared to other movies based on popular novels has been subtle (Breaking Dawn Part II cost $120 million). The production company has been slowly releasing extended trailers and longer movie clips, which, instead of working the fans into an absolute frenzy, seems to have the effect of encouraging them — and by “them” I mean “me” — to wait just a bit longer.
I have been a fan of Les Miserables since high school. We were required to attend pep rallies, and to pass the time, my best friends and I would listen to Les Miserables on her Walkman. I was immediately inspired by the passion the actors sang with and then conversely daunted when I went to the library and saw Victor Hugo’s mighty tome. The library copy was over 1,000 pages, and even the abridged version was over 300 pages. I decided to do what any good student would do and watch the movie.
The true strength of the story is its power to captivate in any format. Originally published in 1862, Les Miserables has been made into over 50 movies internationally. The movies have been filmed in Spanish, French, English, Hindi, and other languages. Always popular, the novel’s future as a classic was sealed in the 1980s with the creation of the musical. The 1980 version shown in Paris was later adapted for an American audience and hit the stage at the Broadway Theater in New York City in 1987. Since its inception, “The show has been produced in forty-two countries and translated into 21 languages.”
Set during the Paris Uprising of 1832, the story encompasses an enormous cast of characters and focuses on the themes of love and redemption. The plot deals with classic relationships like father and daughter and pairs of lovers, the bonds of which are all tested through this tumultuous period of history.
An unusual aspect of this latest version of Les Miserables is director Tom Hooper’s desire to get as much emotion in the actors’ singing voices as possible. He did this by asking the actors to sing during their scenes rather than lip sync to their prerecorded songs on a sound stage. The startling effect is that the audience is privy to every actor’s voice choked with feeling. The power of each acted scene blends into the music, so the tears and kisses, the rage and solace become a part of each song. Hooper didn’t want the actors to be distracted by trying to lip sync effectively; instead they can get lost in the moment, and the result is genius.
Die-hard fans and newcomers to the world of Les Miserables, the “Musical Phenomenon,” can get the latest updates online anytime on the official page, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook. If you’ve already read the book and need some readalike or listen-alike suggestions check the ALA Listen List for audio titles like Les Miserables.
— Laura C. Perenic, currently reading The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan (another title by this author, Accomplice, was featured by Sharon Rawlins in The 12 Books of Christmas last year on The Hub)
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