Academy Awards 2013: Les Miserables
February 21, 2013
Filed under Arts & Life
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How do you describe something that is almost indescribable?
When I saw the motion picture version of “Les Misérables,” it was the first time I had ever seen the production and was almost too much for words. The story is so full of emotion that it’s almost overwhelming. The singing, although non-stop, was so moving that it literally gave me goose bumps the entire time.
For those who have not seen it yet, here’s some advice: First, bring tissues. You think you won’t need them, but trust me, you will.
Secondly, ladies, remove any kind of makeup you have on, unless you want to walk out of there looking like a raccoon.
Thirdly, wear warm clothes. Partly because the movie theatres are always cold, but mostly because of the fact that the entire production will give you chills.
Finally, don’t even bother with candy or a drink; you’ll be so involved with the movie that you won’t remember you even purchased overpriced concessions. From one friend to another, take my advice. “Les Mis” is the one movie that you actually need to be emotionally and physically prepared for.
“Les Mis” is set in 19th century France during the dark days of the French Revolution. Tom Hooper, the director, is a genius. It had to have been the biggest challenge of his career to adapt the 1500-page novel and world-renowned musical into a 160-minute cinematic production, but the transition seemed effortless.
Hooper paid attention to every little detail: the beautiful scenery, stunning costumes, and most importantly, the music. Hooper had all of the actors sing live, and the scenes you see in the movie are from the first take to keep it as realistic and authentic as possible.
The mind-blowing Hugh Jackman portrayed Jean Valjean, the ex-con who wanted to get away from his past and eventually found the courage to start a new life. His acting was so in tune with his character and his singing was nothing less than perfect. His tenor voice sweetly sang the melancholy tunes that mesmerized the entire audience. From the moment the production started, Hugh Jackman set the stage and the bar for the rest of the cast.
The song “Suddenly,” sung by Jean Valjean when he ‘adopts’ Cosette, felt more than relatable for Mackenzie Leskovec, a speech pathology sophomore.
“Usually, I’m not fond of when songs are added to the musical for the movie, but I absolutely loved that song; about how he feels complete now that she is his child. I’m adopted, so it hit home for my family and I. We absolutely adored it.”
Anne Hathaway’s performance was so emotionally moving that you couldn’t help but love her. Her character, Fantine, was a mother who had lost her job and was forced to sell her hair, teeth, and body to send money home to her sick child, Cosette. Hathaway was unquestionably stunning when she sang the recognizable song, “I Dreamed a Dream.” The audience could feel her pain and agony; you felt like a shadow on the wall, watching, but not able to help her.
The actor that surprised me most with his singing and acting was Russell Crowe, who played Inspector Javert. His character was on the hunt for Jean Valjean, who had violated his parole to begin his new life. His baritone voice was perfect for his character of authority and his acting was phenomenal. You could see his struggle with his inner self, yet you understood the decisions he makes. It’s unbelievable.
The comic relief is rightly provided by none other than Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, who play Mr. and Mrs. Thénardier, the owners of a guesthouse, who mistreat Cosette. The audience always laughed when they were on the screen, for they were excessively greedy and gracefully pick-pocketed the oblivious patrons.
Throughout the movie, there are many scenes depicting the love triangle between Cosette (played by Amanda Seyfried), Marius (played by Eddie Redmayne) and Éponine (played by Samantha Barks).
Barks plays the Thénardier’s daughter and Marius’ friend. She’s desperately in love with him, but knows he will never love her back now that he has found Cosette. It’s the classic love at first sight with the girl who’s secretly in love with the boy, but it’s still enough to melt your heart, considering the dire circumstances the movie was set around.
Although Seyfried sang little, she hit those ultra-high notes beautifully. Redmayne, on the other hand, shocked me with his voice. His tenor range elegantly performed songs with an air of maturity.
Molly Hohman, a freshman who’s majoring in speech pathology, especially liked Barks’ character.
“I was really impressed with Éponine,” said Hohman. “She came off of Broadway, but it’s different on screen. I was impressed with how well she adapted to being on screen and how she fit in flawlessly with people who have acted many times before.”
However, during the scenes of the Revolution, Aaron Tveit, who performs as Enjolras, stole the show. Enjolras is Marius’ friend and the main instigator of a revolt of the young people of Paris. These scenes, along with the romance, gave me hope for the characters you can’t help but love.
The applause at the end of the movie was very well deserved. The viewers could feel every emotion from the actors. You could feel the love and the hate, the agony and the suffering. It’s an emotional roller coaster that was exciting to ride.
This movie is one to remember and treasure. This is going to be a film that will be honored time and time again for its beauty and ability to harness human emotion and portray it so perfectly.