Friday, January 25, 2013

Les Miserables

Les Miserables

I'm a sucker for a musical. I love the whole idea of living life to a soundtrack. Bursting into song during a moment of crisis? Makes perfect sense to me. The more dramatic and gut-wrenching the songs, the better. You know, there'd be a lot less road rage if everyone sang along to show tunes in the car.

I saw Les Miserables performed on stage about twenty years ago and fell in love with it. When I heard it was being made into a movie, I was excited, especially when I heard that Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were cast. Then, I found out that the actors were performing their vocals live as the movie was being filmed, a first for a movie musical (which I blogged about earlier here). By the time the movie came out, I had very high expectations.

My son and I went to see it together on Christmas day, the first day it was out. The theater was packed, but since we got there early we had perfect seats. As the previews came to a close and the lights went all the way down, I felt that moment of anticipation. And then, with the opening notes of the Overture, the goosebumps started.

Les Mis is essentially a tale of grace versus the law. One man, Jean Valjean, when presented with an act of grace and mercy, embraces it. The other, Javier, receives his own moment of grace, but he can't comprehend it. He's lived his life by the law, and he sees no other way. This is all set against a backdrop of revolution, poverty, and love that never dies.

I've heard people say that they wished the vocals in the movie were "cleaner." In other words, that they'd taken the actors back to a studio and recorded beautiful, pitch-perfect versions of the songs. But one of the things that gives Les Mis so much power is the raw emotion in those performances. When Anne Hathaway, as the tortured Fantine, sings I Dreamed a Dream, it's as gritty and and angry as the character herself. Fantine has sunk as low as she can go, and you feel her desperation and pain.

It's a long movie, about three hours, and there are a few places where it drags just a bit. But overall, Les Miserables is a powerful look at how people treat each other, how we view God, and how love has the power to transcend just about anything. I highly recommend it.

How about you? Are you a fan of the movie musical? Which one is your favorite?

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 thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough is the first book in the Charm and Deceit series, to be released May 2013 by Whitaker House. And... as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort and Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13) She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at


  1. well, I loved it. I had no problem with Russell Crowe's singing. It wasn't American Idol quality but it was real. What I didn't expect was that it was pretty much ALL sung. I think if some of those lyrics had been just spoken it might have worked better for him. I dragged my daughter there. She'd only heard it was a depressing story, but she told someone after that it was amazing, though we were both totally wiped out.

    I also think it's cool how it had such a strong spiritual story line and (I think) it didn't get watered down.
    It had one moment that was completely unnecessary and inappropriate for younger viewers and apparently viewers like me! lasts about 10 seconds though...

    It took me about a week to get the movie and songs out of my head (Would have been okay but it was crowding out my WIP)! That should tell you the impact it had.

    thanks Jen!

  2. I love musicals. I like the new trend towards musical TV like Glee and Smash. Haven't seen Les Mis yet, but I plan to.

  3. I had planned on getting the soundtrack but those songs stick in my head too much already!

    I suggest you don't plan to do much after the movie. It wiped me out.

  4. Man I still haven't gotten myself to the theater for this one. But I love this review and can't wait to go!

  5. I saw it once live, but I was SOOOOOO far up, I could barely tell what was going on on stage.

    I really want to see this movie.

    Thanks for telling us about it. :D

  6. I'll echo DeAnna and say I'm glad you're keeping us up-to-date on this one. No, I haven't seen it yet... perhaps during Winter break at the end of Feb when the kids don't have any activities and we can take them to the city on a weekday.

    My all time fav is 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.

    I want to put in a word for Mama Mia here. I liked hearing Pierce Brosnan sing. No, it wasn't quality, but it had feeling. I believed he was singing it and even now, I can see him singing and the gestures he made while singing. I can't remember any of the others other than that Meryl Streep was in it.

  7. I'm so sorry for the late comment, Jen. I don't typically watch musicals. I've enjoyed most of the ones I've seen, but Carousel with Shirley Jones sticks in my mind as one I enjoyed the most. I will eventually watch Les Mis, but I probably won't get to the theater to see it. When I do see it, I hope it touches me as much as it's touched you.

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  9. Haven't seen this but I have heard that a few scenes were filmed in Winchester, were I live part of the year. Personally though, I am not an enormous Russel Crowe fan, I think maybe Robin Hood contributed to that.

    One thing I have trouble with is this notion that the French Revolution was a 'good' thing presented in a 'positive' light. I don't know much about it, but I have heard over a million people were killed, and many for no reason. It seems they just went crazy and started murdering anyone they didn't like. How can that be good? Sounds worse than what they have before.


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