Sunday, 19 May 2013

Les Miserables: the DVD

The DVD of the musical film version of LES MISERABLES was released on 13th May (last Monday) and I managed to watch it on Friday night.


Having read the novel, I already knew the story ... and this proved both a help and a hindrance. Because I had read the novel I understood why Fantine had left her daughter Cosette in the 'care' of the Thénardiers (which is not properly explained in the film) and that Gavroche was the Thénardiers' son (which is not stated at any point in the film). The time spent by Jean Valjean and Cosette in the Convent (where Valjean poses as the brother of the gardener in order that Cosette receives an education and both are hidden from any hunt mounted by Javert) is almost totally missing from the film, and the subplot that involves Marius's father (Colonel Georges Pontmercy, an officer in Napoleon's army, who was wounded at Waterloo and who believes - erroneously - that Thénardier saved his life) is totally absent.

I enjoyed all the performances, and in particular thought that Russell Crowe was a very convincing Javert and that Hugh Jackman conveyed Valjean's 'conversion' from a hardened convict into an honest and upright man very well. Many of the exterior shots featured the former Royal Naval College, Greenwich (somewhere I know quite well), and it made quite a convincing substitute for 1830s Paris. The battle scenes were rather theatrical, but the effects of short-range musketry were realistically recreated.

I enjoyed this DVD, and will probably watch it again in the not too distant future.

6 comments:

  1. Le Miserables covers a fascinating period in French history from the French Revolution through the Revolutions of 1848. Having an understanding of the historical and cultural l backdrop makes for a more enjoyable read/view.

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  2. CoastConFan,

    It is a very interesting and - in the Anglo-Saxon world - a relatively unknown period of French history.

    Reading the book - and watching the DVD - helped me to understand it much more than I had previously.

    All the best.

    Bob

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  3. A period with very nice uniforms as well !

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  4. Mosstrooper,

    Very true! Almost Napoleonic ... but not quite.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. I recall reading in a book on the ACW that soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia jokingly referred to themselves as Lee's Miserables!

    The film was very skilfully performed, dressed, directed &c., but, personally, I don't care for this style of musical where every piece of dialogue is sung.

    We saw a production at the ENO a few years ago of a modern stay story involving a police investigation of a computer-inspired murder. When the police officer began to sing the caution - 'You have the right to remain silent..&c.' - it required great self-control on my part not to dissolve into hysterical laughter.

    Give me 'proper' songs any day!

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  6. Arthur1815,

    I had not heard of Lee's Miserables before ... but I did hear about the American who saw the show in London, and afterwards asked which of the people in the musical was Les.

    I did not find that the singing detracted from the film at all (I think that it was because the actors did their own singing) but I can see how it might ... and the instance that you describe does sound laughable, even if it was not intended to.

    All the best,

    Bob

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