Books on Screen: Les Misérables

Trailer courtesy of DanceOn.

When something becomes as popular as Les Misérables, many people tend to forget where it originated.  This popular musical, now movie, was originally a novel, written by Victor Hugo in 1862.  This book is traditionally well over 1,000 pages, and has five volumes that mark the progression through Jean Valjean’s life.  The novel has been criticized as having a lot of points that are used to argue a moral point or display Hugo’s knowledge without really advancing the plot.  However, current versions have been cut down to show the story and get rid of the more taxing reading.

Les Misérables on screen is a movie worth seeing.  It’s very fluid, has a lot of great set design, realized characters and the story is fantastic.  Do you have to read the book or see the musical before the movie?  Absolutely not.  The story is well told through the songs, actions and dialogue of the cast, so having to do research beforehand isn’t necessary, unless you really want to know what happens.

The casting for the movie was interesting; I think that the choices were pretty good, even though some of the singing fell a little flat for me.  All of the songs were sung live, so everything in the movie is exactly what you’re seeing and I think that that’s part of what makes this movie great.  Hugh Jackman was good as Jean Valjean.  He had the personality and the emotions that really made the character.  His singing, for the most part, was good.  Some of the vibrato was a little annoying at times because there was just a little too much of it, but otherwise, I thought he was a good choice for the role.  Russell Crowe was pretty decent as Javert as well.  I think that for not normally having to sing, Crowe did really well in his role, and he made a great villain against Jackman.

Anne Hathaway killed it as Fantine; if you don’t believe me, look at her awards.  Even though her version of “I Dreamed A Dream” wasn’t the most stable that I’ve ever heard, I still think it was great.  Let’s talk about Samantha Barks as Eponine.  Seriously, I loved her character a lot more than I liked Amanda Seyfried’s Cossette.  For me, Eponine seemed more genuine as a person, and I liked her voice more than I liked Seyfried’s.  She really knocked it out of the park for me and was arguably one of the best moments in the movie for me.  There are a lot of great moments, but her song “On My Own” was one of the ones that I walked out remembering and wanting on my playlist.

Les Misérables is a fantastic story and puts the novel into a new perspective for all generations to enjoy.

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

2 thoughts on “Books on Screen: Les Misérables

  1. jonesthlewisuedu February 26, 2013 / 11:10 pm

    Hi Lauren,
    What did you think of the role of the little boy? Did you cry in the movie at any time? I find the story so moving in all of its versions that I cry every time. I must comment about the singing of Marius (Eddie Redmayne). I thought he had the best voice in the whole cast.

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