Books on Screen: Let’s Discuss Les Miserables

by Jennifer


So — have you seen it??

I could go on and on and ON about it, because this film exceeded my expectations. The cinematography was fantastic, and the way the story was put together highlighted everything about each character in new and wonderful ways. I’ve read the book twice, I’ve seen it on stage and listened to the soundtrack so often, and I’ve seen the non-musical movie (which I was surprised to read that when I watched it for the nth time 3 1/2 years ago after our Les Miserables Classics bookclub that I was slightly disillusioned. I’m planning on showing Amanda, so we’ll see if I feel that way again.

One thing that has struck me about the movie casting — in comparing it to the Broadway Cast Recording, is that the people actually sound their age. No one can deny that Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” is exquisiste, and in comparing it to the Fantine’s on Broadway, they all sound so mature. It really stands out when listening to Marius and Enjolras who are fantastically young and earnest in the movie, and just old and technical on my CD.

As if my exuberant use of adjectives hasn’t gotten the point across, I’ll restate that I loved this movie.

I’d love to hear what you think about the movie. Was this your first exposure to the story, or was it familiar to you? What was your favorite part? Any disappointments?** Leave a comment and let us know. And feel free to use the threaded comments. If you use the reply button, the person who left the comment will be notified that you replied.

**We don’t even have to mention Russell Crowe — really. Though I have to say that “Stars” was fantastic, and for a few minutes I forgot my irritation with him. I’ve never really been a fan, and so it sort of made it easier to hate Javert.

If you can’t get enough of Les Mis, check out the posts in the past:

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Jennifer lives in Houston with her family. In addition to reading, she enjoys travel, Bible study, food, and fun. She blogs about some of these things -- when her nose isn't in a book -- at Snapshot.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 April January 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I could go on an on too! I LOVED it and I have been a fan of the musical for a long, long time. I thought Hooper did an amazing job adapting it to film-it is definitely grittier, but I think it was necessary to add to the depth and beauty of the story.

I was disappointed with Russel Crowe. I mean, I wasn’t expecting them to all be amazing singers-it’s a movie not the stage production, but I felt his acting was lacking. I really like Javert’s character because he has so much depth. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I go see it again.

SPOILER ALERT: I really liked the changes they made that aligned better with the book-especially with Eponine. She’s one of my favorite characters and though she is kind of grotesque in the book, in the musical she’s like a little nice puppy dog following Marius around. I like that they had her keep Cosette’s letter from him, but she was still likeable-and that she died saving Marius. It was like an awesome meshing of stage Eponine that gave her character depth.

I though Anne and Hugh did amazing jobs-but I knew they would. And Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop (he was the original Jean Valjean) was AWESOME.

Other stand outs to me were that cute little kid playing Gavroche and Aaron Tveit as Enjolras-I really liked him.

This is a really long response. haha
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2 Jennifer January 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Yes! I remember sort of glazing over during the “war parts” when I saw it on stage, and I always skip those parts when I listen to the soundtrack, but Enjolras was excellent.

I’m going to re-read the book (the unabridged version this time, I think), because I commented on my other post that I didn’t really get a handle on the Eponine character in the book when I read it before.
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3 April January 5, 2013 at 3:00 am

Yes, from what I remember the abridged version takes a lot of Eponine parts out. She’s actually kind of psycho in the book-haha. I like her in the stage version better.
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4 Karen January 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

I had been looking forward to this screen adaptation for quite some time and was not disappointed. The sets and the rawness of every scene were dead on. I was most awed by the new song for the movie, “Suddenly.” I knew from the start the scene that it was a new one. It was especially poignant for me as an adopted mom. Valjean was struck with the enormity of his responsibility and duty (a recurring theme for LM), but also displayed his vulnerability as a new parent. The lyrics are awesome. I can’t wait to see it again and again!


5 Jennifer January 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Thanks for pointing that out. I read in one of the reviews that there was a new song, but I hadn’t compared to see what it was. I did like that song a lot. Perfect! I also read that many scenes were added back in that had been cut from the musical.
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6 Barbara H. January 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Haven’t seen it yet but this makes me even more excited to. How cool than Colm Wilkinson is the bishop in this! The only soundtrack I’ve heard (and seen when it was performed on PBS) was the 10th anniversary edition, and I loved that.

I set about to read the whole unabridged book (1440+ pages!) a couple of years ago and reviewed it here:
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7 Jennifer January 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Let us know what you think when you see it! I saw it with my daughter this week, but my husband and I are going to see it next week when we go away for our anniversary.
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8 Amy January 6, 2013 at 7:11 pm

DH and I saw the movie a few days after Christmas and I finished the unabridged book TODAY. Yes, I loved them both. I feel really inadequate to say more than that, though I do a bit more in my review (such as it is) which will post on my blog on Tuesday.

May I recommend the Norman Denny translation of the book if you don’t already have an unabridged copy? I tried another translation and found the Denny much more readable.
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