from Jennifer AlLee
As far as I'm concerned, there's no art form quite as exhilarating as live musical theater, and Les Miserables is one of the best. Based on the Victor Hugo novel and set in 19th Century France, it's essentially the story of two men: Javier, who seeks a black and white following of the law, and Jean Valjean, who seeks redemption. I saw it performed in Los Angeles over 20 years ago and loved it. Of course, the big problem with musical theater is that you can't watch it over and over like you can a movie. It's a one-time experience, something that lives in your heart and mind, but can't be duplicated.
|Russell Crowe as Javier
Okay, you still can't relive a singular theatrical experience. BUT... we're going to get pretty darn close. Les Miz (as fans lovingly call it) is coming to the big screen this December. The stellar cast is made up of actors with both dramatic and acting chops, among them: Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javier), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), and Amanda Seyfried (Cosette). Impressive to be sure, but what makes this movie even more special is the way it's being filmed.
In traditional movie musicals, the songs are prerecorded in a studio. When the movie is filmed, the actors then lip-sync to their own performances. Les Miserables, however, is breaking from tradition. The actors are actually singing during the filming... in other words, when you watch Anne Hathaway sing her heartbreaking rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" you are hearing what she sang on the set, as the cameras rolled.
|Anne Hathaway (Fantine) and
Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean)
Hugh Jackman agrees. "When you are doing miming, 60% of your energy is just doing it correctly," says Jackman. "Even though it is your performance, you don't feel you are in charge of it."
It's a revolutionary new approach to the movie musical. And they're not just stepping out with their vocals. In a scene where Fantine's hair is being shorn for sale so she can buy food for her child, Hathaway's hair really is being cut off. The formerly long-haired actress has no regrets about her method choice. "I did it for a film, so it really wasn't about me and my security," she said. "I'm just so pleased with how I look, so I now quite like having short hair."
Enjoy the Les Miserables movie teaser below and decide for yourself if the risks these actors are taking are worth it. (My answer is a great big YES!)
How about you? What's your favorite musical? What musical would you like to see made into a movie?
JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.