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Old 06-12-2012, 11:12
duncann
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I attended the premiere last night and thought I'd give the heads up on it for fans since it's one of the most anticipated releases ever! I am lucky enough to have seen the original production and cast back in 1985 and seen it again several times since, and now the film premiere. I won the tickets in a ballot.

On their way in, on the red carpet, the key players were interviewed by Michael Ball (the original Marius) and Emma Willis. You could hear these interviews outside and see them inside on the cinema screen. His interviews were excellent and mainly about performance and filming technique. Hers were her usual Big Brother level.

All of the leading cast, the producers, the director Tom Hooper, and Cameron Mackintosh, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer were there, and before the film started, they came up on stage and introduced themselves one by one to great cheers. Whatever the movie was going to be like, those who had made it seemed to think it was their best work and one of the best films ever made! Tom Hooper said it could not have been made without Hugh Jackman and no one else could have played the role.

Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, appears in the film as the priest who changes his life when he forgives him for stealing his silver. I didn't see him there, so I don't know if he was in attendance, I assume not. If you don't know Les Mis from the original and anniversary versions, then his role in the movie is not going to be imbued with the same status, but for me, it was genuinely moving and wonderful, and as always, he sang so beautifully.

Eric Fellner, the producer, told us that there were a lot of the rest of the cast and crew in the audience and during the film to make our appreciation felt. This resulted in the unusual practice of much of the film being cheered and applauded and the slightly irritating but also comic effect of some of the peripheral cast whooping and applauding each other when they first came into shot, even if they appeared for only a nanosecond or had one line or no lines at all!

Well, it took them 27 years to make it, but it was well worth the wait. From the moment it opens on an incredibly visually dramatic scene with the famous pounding opening orchestral chords, you just know it's going to be one of the all time great films. It's a fantastic, moving, brilliant, technically dazzling, truly epic transfer to film of one of the greatest stage productions ever. Every shot looks amazing. It's faithful to the stage show but has been opened up and on the grand scale. Yet it's also mostly intimate, personally involving as if you are there yourself and at times it's very raw, almost unbearably painful. There's much more 'miserables' in this version than on the stage. I don't know if everyone will like that.

I think most will know that virtually all the dialogue is sung through, and for the first time in a major film the singing was recorded live on set and blended together in post-prodution. This was a masterstroke but it may not be to everyone's taste. The director clearly went the route of placing acting/character/emoting over 'beautiful singing', Julie Andrews diction and perfect musical timekeeping. The movie is just not sung as musically or attractively as on stage, but it is probably much better acted. The characters are drawn in greater detail and the storyline is made clearer, with extra elements in it. There's also some extra spoken dialogue some of which from the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen might have been ad libbed. I think I really understood the full implications of all the minutiae of the story for the first time.

The stage productions are cast with top level singers who can act and the film is cast with top level actors who can sing - and yes, they can all sing, no one lets it down. However, the singing in the film, for me, was slightly underpowered in almost everyone's top register, except for Samantha Barks as Eponine, who nails her performance, and Anne Hathaway. Helena Bonham Carter told us up front she can't really sing and I'm afraid she wasn't being falsely modest. Sacha Baron Cohen can't really either. But they play the Thenardiers so they get away with it - and this is also personal taste, I like the more musical singers.

In terms of the lead performances Anne Hathaway will walk away from this with armfuls of awards. She is a revelation, taking Fantine to a new level. She stopped the movie dead with her astonishing rendition of I Dreamed a Dream. Much of the audience was in tears, the applause was spontaneous and prolongued and it only stopped because it wasn't a live performance and the film was continuing.

Russell Crowe as Javert is also perfectly cast. Yes, he's the villain of the piece, but we totally understand his own morality and personal crusade so he becomes our anti-hero. Also with the way the film is opened up he becomes the counter-balance and equal rival to Valjean, I don't remember Javert being so all-present in the stage version. This is as much about Javert as Valjean. He's also a surprisingly effective singer and nails his songs.

It's such a huge cast I can't review everyone in it, so I'll finish on its star, Hugh Jackman. His physical peformance is astonishing, he's almost unrecognisable in the opening, you can believe he's been 19 years on a chain gang. He carries the film and makes a perfect Valjean. I found many of his scenes moving, especially with Eddie Redmayne.

However, in true Hollywood tradition he does not age sufficiently through the story - he's been 19 years in prison before it starts and there's 20 years of plotline, yet he looks barely older at the end.

I had admittedly very high expectations of his vocal performance and I'm afraid he didn't quite live up to them. I heard him back in the 90s in Oklahoma when he had a great voice, but Valjean is much more demanding and was written for Colm Wilkinson's purer, much higher register. Jackman is a bit rough sounding and underpowered at the top of his register and in Bring Him Home he just can't match the aching beauty of Wilkinson or Alfie Boe. This doesn't mean that he doesn't deliver, he does, he just does it through a different style of performance. Whenever I've seen Les Mis, teh beauty of Bring Him Home stops the show. It didn't quite here, it received much more muted applause than either Anne Hathaway or Samantha Banks.

But I don't want to end on a down note. It really is a fantastic film, one of the all time best, and huge credits must go to Cameron Mackintosh and his colleagues for surpassing themselves in transferring their stage success with even more incredible results than they, or we, could have hoped for. Bravo!
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:15
Verence
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I'd always say that the Thenardiers are more villainous than Javert
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:20
duncann
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I'd always say that the Thenardiers are more villainous than Javert
Yes, in a way they are, they do not have Javert's morality, but in the musical they have a comic aspect too and a jolly theme tune, which makes them loveable rogues (at points). They don't represent the same lifelong threat to Valjean. But in the movie, yes, they are definitely villainous.
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Old 06-12-2012, 14:14
ImOnlyWee
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Anne Hathaway is knocking it out of the park! Cannot wait to see this.
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Old 06-12-2012, 14:14
Yorkie47
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I'm a HUGE Les Misérables fan and if I could go back in time for a couple of hours, it would be to see the original production with Michael Ball as Marius. Sigh ...
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Old 06-12-2012, 16:14
MysteriousOz
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Firstly, wow thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy review

Have to say Im really looking forward to seeing this on the big screen.
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Old 06-12-2012, 18:15
duncann
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Firstly, wow thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy review

Have to say Im really looking forward to seeing this on the big screen.
I wanted to share the experience! My partner and I can't stop talking about it! It's one of those truly great films you want to talk about, and obviously since it's a faithful transfer of something well-known and much loved, you can easily tell others about it even though they haven't yet seen it. Anyway, I'm sure you'll love it.
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Old 06-12-2012, 19:02
tracystapes
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I can't believe we have to wait another month (..and more!) for this! I am dying to see it!
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Old 06-12-2012, 19:51
Virgil Tracy
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do they sing all the way thru the movie ?
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:26
Lady Spice
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A big thank you from me for this write up.

I'm so excited to see it and so glad that someone else that was so looking forward to seeing it was not disappointed, as my biggest fear is that it will be unable to live up to my rather high expectations. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, and took the time to share your experience. I'm now even more excited about experiencing it too.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:59
Verence
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I'm a HUGE Les Misérables fan and if I could go back in time for a couple of hours, it would be to see the original production with Michael Ball as Marius. Sigh ...
When I saw the 25th Anniversary touring production Gareth Gate was Marius and he was far better than I expected him to be
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:51
Yorkie47
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When I saw the 25th Anniversary touring production Gareth Gate was Marius and he was far better than I expected him to be
Yes, I saw Gareth in the production (I've seen Les Mis many times) and I thought he was excellent.

It's just that I'm a big Michael Ball fan and have seen him in everything EXCEPT Les Misérables. I could have done as well. I was in London at the time he was in it and choosing a show and didn't fancy Les Mis at all (such a fool). I saw 42nd Street instead.

It was only afterwards after seeing Michael in Aspects of Love (he was wonderful) that I realised what I had missed. Grrrr. I would have loved to have seen him in that role, especially as I fell in love with Les Mis in later years.

There have been lots of excellent Mariuses of course over the years but it's just a regret of mine that I missed Michael. Oh well ...
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:06
ChrissieAO
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Yes, I saw Gareth in the production (I've seen Les Mis many times) and I thought he was excellent.

It's just that I'm a big Michael Ball fan and have seen him in everything EXCEPT Les Misérables. I could have done as well. I was in London at the time he was in it and choosing a show and didn't fancy Les Mis at all (such a fool). I saw 42nd Street instead.

It was only afterwards after seeing Michael in Aspects of Love (he was wonderful) that I realised what I had missed. Grrrr. I would have loved to have seen him in that role, especially as I fell in love with Les Mis in later years.

There have been lots of excellent Mariuses of course over the years but it's just a regret of mine that I missed Michael. Oh well ...

And I went to see Les Mis the first time with him in it and he did not really register.In fact that first time I was a bit underwhelmed with the musical. It took a second visit to really appreciate it, and a third, and fourth and fifth....it has become my favourite musical of all time.
Regarding Michael, I went on to become a big fan also and have seen him perform 'Empty Chairs'....more times than I can remember
I can't wait to see the new film...soo looking forward to it.
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:07
Damaging
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I've always been a fan of Les Miserables and when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I was excited. Then I found out it was Hugh Jackman as well and I've liked him as an actor, so that made it even better.

Saw a behind the scenes sorta thing, stating that during the filming, the actors did live singing when filming, not user recordings. Didn't think Anne Hathaway could sing that well.
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Old 07-12-2012, 13:15
ElphieLives
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do they sing all the way thru the movie ?
Yes from what I've heard. The stage show has no spoken dialogue and while I believe they've added a few spoken lines to the film. it's still through-sung to pretty much the same extent .
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Old 07-12-2012, 16:50
Jonwo
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Musical adaptations have been hit and miss but Les Mis sounds like its a hit, I hope it does well to justify more movie musicals like Miss Saigon which would be incredible.
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Old 07-12-2012, 17:11
little-monster
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I love the theatre show. I have seen it twice and I love it

I can not wait for the film. Been looking forward to it all year. I think the casting is very impressive as well. Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Helena B-C are three of my top actresses.
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Old 08-12-2012, 13:29
ImOnlyWee
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I've always been a fan of Les Miserables and when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I was excited. Then I found out it was Hugh Jackman as well and I've liked him as an actor, so that made it even better.

Saw a behind the scenes sorta thing, stating that during the filming, the actors did live singing when filming, not user recordings. Didn't think Anne Hathaway could sing that well.

Anne's actually a trained singer and has done quite a bit of stage work. She's definitely a triple threat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNZ8uaw_dDE
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Old 08-12-2012, 15:11
Mystical123
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Thanks for the lengthy review, very jealous that you got to the premiere! I watched the live feed and agreed with you about the interviews, would have been much better to have Michael Ball do them all!

One small correction, it's Samantha Barks, not Banks. I know I'm being slightly pedantic, but I've seen her name spelt wrongly in articles connected with Les Mis so many times now, and I've been a fan since she was in I'd Do Anything, so it's starting to get irritating I'd be interested to know what you thought of her performance though

I'm really excited to see this movie, particularly after hearing Anne Hathaway's I Dreamed A Dream, which is so much more brilliant than I ever thought it could be. I didn't rate her as a singer before (her Somebody To Love from Ella Enchanted is painful) but she seems to have nailed it here, and from what I've seen should be taking home a Best Supporting Actress Oscar (and SAG Award and Golden Globe) without much trouble, even though it's a very full category this year.

I'm not going to make such judgments about Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe yet as I'm uncertain from what I've seen - there are positives and negatives about each coming from the clips I've seen online and the trailer. I'm excited to see Eddie Redmayne though, I've heard good things about his performance and he seems to be a great singer. I don't have the same problem with Marius that I immediately think of Michael Ball because he played Marius before I was born I've seen the show twice and Marius has been good both times, but I too was surprisingly pleased with Gareth Gates - he actually made a very good Marius indeed. Anyone's better than Nick Jonas though...

I have my tickets booked for 11th January already, just annoyed it's still so far away!
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Old 12-12-2012, 17:43
duncann
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do they sing all the way thru the movie ?
Yes it's entirely sung-through like the stage version, although there are a few occasional spoken lines which I don't remember from the stage or concert versions. I think these are there to clarify the storyline and/or are ad libs from the cast, especially Sacha Baron Cohen who adds in a couple of one line jokes.
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Old 12-12-2012, 17:57
Virgil Tracy
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Yes it's entirely sung-through like the stage version, although there are a few occasional spoken lines which I don't remember from the stage or concert versions. I think these are there to clarify the storyline and/or are ad libs from the cast, especially Sacha Baron Cohen who adds in a couple of one line jokes.
uhhh , that puts me off a bit . I kinda get tired of it and just wish people would talk normally for a bit , it looks great from the trailer tho
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Old 12-12-2012, 17:58
duncann
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One small correction, it's Samantha Barks, not Banks. I know I'm being slightly pedantic, but I've seen her name spelt wrongly in articles connected with Les Mis so many times now, and I've been a fan since she was in I'd Do Anything, so it's starting to get irritating I'd be interested to know what you thought of her performance though

I'm excited to see Eddie Redmayne though, I've heard good things about his performance and he seems to be a great singer.
I thought Samantha Barks was fantastic - there is some debate about the 'realistic' style of the singing generally but there's no argument about hers, she is terrific because no matter what she's doing in terms of the physical action, she can really carry the melody and sing through every note perfectly without gulping for air or stopping short. She also looked stunning at the premiere and when the principle cast left she alone got a great cheer from the rest of the bit-part cast in the audience - it's her first film but I doubt it will be her last, she looks like a star breaking through.

Eddie Redmayne is a great actor, I've seen almost everything he's done on TV and in film and he's on top form here. I was pleasantly surprised with his voice, though I don't think anyone will ever catch Michael Ball on Marius in terms of pure singing. Without giving anything away there's one bit where Eddie is just reacting to someone else, he doesn't sing or speak, and it's very powerful purely because of his subtle expressiveness. He lights up every scene he's in, he's perfectly cast.
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Old 12-12-2012, 18:05
duncann
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uhhh , that puts me off a bit . I kinda get tired of it and just wish people would talk normally for a bit , it looks great from the trailer tho
I don't think you'll get tired of it but I know what you mean. When it got to the big number at the end of Act 1 I suddenly realised it would be very unlikely they'd have an interval break and that to do the whole thing with no break is a LONG time - it's 3 hours of constant music and singing - there are 40 songs apparently, but it was fine.

I can't remember the last film I saw that had an interval. They used to have them back in the 1960s when I was a child! There was one in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang just as the car went over the cliff!
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Old 12-12-2012, 18:35
tracystapes
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Have you seen the movie duncann? (I might have missed a post or two along the way here )

Edit to say I just saw you have seen it
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Old 12-12-2012, 18:46
duncann
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Have you seen the movie duncann? (I might have missed a post or two along the way here )

Edit to say I just saw you have seen it
ROFL!
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