Do You Hear The People Sing? (Give Them ALL THE OSCARS!)

December 30, 2012 Classics, Historical Fiction 52

Hiya Bookworms,

Oh man. I just saw Les Miserables. I rarely go to movies because I don’t like to put on clothes that aren’t pajamas on weekends. Yes, I’m exaggerating. But I seriously don’t go to the movies that much. Which is why I can in good conscience declare that Les Miserables should win ALL THE OSCARS! (It’s not like I’ve seen anything else in the running…)

I’ve never seen the actual stage production of Les Mis but I’m familiar with the soundtrack because it’s beautiful. I challenge you to not get the chills when you listen to “Do You Hear The People Sing?” I like the musical because although it takes some liberties, it doesn’t stray too terribly far from Victor Hugo’s epic novel. (Unlike the late 90s movie version of Les Mis starring Liam Niessen and Claire Danes in which Jean Valjean LIVED. WTF, guys?!)

I love you. So much.

I love you. So much.

I thought the casting in this movie was phenomenal… With one exception. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Anne Hathaway?! Your Fantine was brilliant. Amanda Seyfried? Well, grown up Cosette doesn’t do a lot, but you know, you hit the high notes and cried in the right places. Plus, you’re so darn pretty with Eddie Redmayne. Who’s a bit of a dreamboat himself. Who knew freckles could sing? OMG who was that girl playing Eponine?! She might be my new favorite human being! Hi Samantha Barks! You rock! (Who was Taylor Swift kidding when she auditioned for that part?!) Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were the perfect diabolical duo as the Thernardiers. And little Gavroche was AMAZING. I totes ugly cried when Russell Crowe pinned the medal on that kid’s corpse.

But let’s talk for a minute about Russell Crowe. He wasn’t awful. He does the stern cranky unrelenting douche canoe thing very well. However… The singing… I mean, it’s not like his voice cracked or anything, but his vocal chops just paled in comparison to the rest of the cast. You know who should have played Javert? Hugh Jackman. Yes, he was a MAGNIFICENT Jean Valjean. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have played that part. I’m saying he should have played BOTH parts. You KNOW it’s possible. Lindsay Lohan played both twins in The Parent Trap (as did Haley Mills) before she went cray cray. They could have thrown in an evil twin aspect, no? A little soap operatic twist? I know. It’s ridiculous. But Hugh Jackman, I want to hear you do “Stars” justice. Please?

Photo Credit: AceShowBiz

Photo Credit: AceShowBiz

Having never seen the musical, I didn’t have a lot of expectations for how this would play out on screen. The only comparison point I had for this was the book (plus the musical soundtrack, but I’ve already discussed the OMG singing.) First, can I just say how glad I am that they made it ABUNDANTLY clear in this movie that this was NOT the official French Revolution? That’s a common misconception, and it irritates me, because, you know. History. Realism points to you, Tom Hooper. Ooooh I just love a period piece with good detail! The hoards of poor people- the all looked disgusting! It was great! There’s no bronzer in the gutters of 18th Century Paris, y’all. The makeup artists went above and beyond with the scabs and sores and pock marks. And they grossed up most people’s teeth. I appreciate the little bits of authenticity. The prostitutes were also delightfully gross. They all looked like walking syphilis! Granted, the period makeup was pretty scary, the way these gals were painted up was terrifying. OSCAR, OSCAR, OSCAR!

Finally. The sewers! I’ve discussed this before, haven’t I? Hugo went into excessive detail about the nastiness of the Parisian sewer system. It was stomach churningly realistic. OMG soupy disgusting chunky river of poop. So VIVIDLY rendered! I can’t come up with enough superlatives to express my love of this movie (with the notable exception of my lukewarm feelings about Russell Crowe. Bleh.) In summation, I am a blubbering mess of fan girl right now. Vive la France!

52 Responses to “Do You Hear The People Sing? (Give Them ALL THE OSCARS!)”

  1. Karen H

    Is her waist actually that small? I was hoping a corset was involved. Surely nature wouldn’t be that cruel to the rest of us……

  2. Lyssapants

    Ok, so I just saw Les Mis today, and I am a HUGE les Mis fan!!! HUGE. I’ve read the abridged version of the book, I bought the unabridged in a fit of ambition and sadly never made it through, however…..I heard the Broadway soundtrack and made it my life’s dream to see the show on Broadway. I saw that and then saw it again in San Francisco just for good measure. I have the show memorized and I remember getting excited for that 90s non-musical movie version, and I’ve been SO STOKED about this movie musical version for a while now.
    I should pretty much say ditto to everything you said in your post. I cringed when I read months ago that Taylor Swift had auditioned – Eponine is my favorite musical theater character of all time, you can’t fuck her up! And Brian and I actually had the conversation today that Hugh should have played both Valjean and Javert. He was amazing! So moving, so talented. Crowe made me cringe at times…. He tried, and he actually did better than I expected, but not nearly good enough.
    I thought Seyfried’s voice was a bit weak considering Cosette has such a soprano part, but she was pretty.
    And Marius! So handsome, played very well.
    I heard the woman who played Eponine played it on stage overseas, so well done choosing talent over celebrity.
    And ANNE!!! I love her as an actress, but I was worried about her singing- i dreamed a dream needs to be BELTED and I didn’t know if she could do it. I think she did, right down to the snot we could see in her nose at the end.
    I have this hunch that the priest was an original onstage Valjean. I feel like I knew his voice. Someone fact check that for me.
    I have more to say, but another time I guess, and I love you for having such similar taste as me!!!!

    • Lauren@FilingJointly

      I think it was Colm Wilkinson that played Bishop Myriel? If that is true then he did indeed play the part of Valjean at one point. He was also Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar at one point. That’s how I recognized him. My parents listened to that soundtrack whenever they painted a room in our house. And they painted a lot.

  3. didibooksenglish

    Well sounds like you’re sold on that one and I must see. Funny but Les Misérables isn’t showing yet in my part of France. I don’t know what’s going on with that, but not happy. I will see it eventually. Didn’t realize Russell Crowe was in it or that he could sing. I did see The Hobbit, though. It was cool but they added in scenes and characters that aren’t in the book. I guess to be expected. Happy New Year!!!

    • Words for Worms

      Well. Russell Crowe can sing, but not as well as anyone else. It’s a shame it’s not playing in France! It’ll get there I’m sure. I haven’t seen The Hobbit. Probably not until it comes out on video. Glad to hear you liked it though. I was wondering how they’d stretch that short book into 3 movies. You just answered that… Add stuff!

  4. Sarah Says Read

    Wow, this post just made me realize I know absolutely NOTHING about Les Mis. I really should read it or something soon so that I can see the movie… your enthusiasm is making me feel more motivated 🙂

    • Words for Worms

      Go see the movie first. Then you’ll be all into the soundtrack, then you’ll read the book and you’ll “Hear The People Sing” through the whole book. Delightful.

  5. Too Fond

    I really, really want to see this! I actually saw the musical when it first came out on Broadway 25 years ago (yes, I was 12 at the time, but yes, it changed my life). An unforgettable experience. And I love Hugh Jackman so much that I’m totally on board with your Parent Trap idea. 🙂

    • Words for Worms

      Oh dear, somehow you landed in my spam filter, but I love this comment! Hugh Jackman can do ANYTHING. Let’s just re-shoot the Javert scenes. C’mon Tom Hooper, you know you want to!

  6. Alley

    I have not stopped singing the songs since seeing the movie, which I’m sure makes me a JOY to be around. I wonder if the movie means a revival of the stage show which I would run to because I last saw it when I was 13 and did not have the appropriate appreciation for. (I loved it when I saw it BUT STILL, 13 year old me did not adequately appreciate anything.)

    “Well, grown up Cosette doesn’t do a lot, but you know, you hit the high notes and cried in the right places.” This: the best and accurate.

    And Crowe’s acting (especially that scene with the medal and Gavroche, which was apparently Crowe’s idea) was good but that singing. It just could have been so much more.

    • Words for Worms

      I would LOVE to see a traveling production of Les Mis! I live in the middle of nowhere, but we do get traveling Broadway tours. I want to see it on stage! Done by professionals! Hahaha thanks for agreeing with my assessment of Crowe’s and Seyfried’s performances. I’m glad he did the medal thing- it showed the cracking of Javert’s facade which actually helped the whole suicide part make more sense… It was just too meaty and iconic a singing part for him to tackle.

  7. Enchanted Seashells

    I’ll only go cos of your review. I don’t really like films unless they’re like Confessions of a Shopaholic or Bridesmaids, I’m shallow like that. But I’ll go, OK! (Happy New Year!)

  8. Quirky Chrissy

    1. You can go to the movies in pjs. That’s how I saw Les Mis yesterday. Polka dot slippers without real soles and all.

    2. Samantha Barks?! A-GREED

    3. I wasn’t all that impressed with Seyfried, but she’s adorbs, so I love her anyway.

    4. Did you know that this was the first movie musical to make all actors sing AND act at the same time?

    • Words for Worms

      I knew that this was the first time they did live singing for reals on film. I think that made it more awesome for everyone but Russell Crowe, who could have benefited from a stunt voice.

  9. Heather

    Ironically enough, I’m listening to the soundtrack as I read your post. 🙂 (I took a 12 day vacation from everything – so I’m a bit behind).

    Anyway, I loved Les Mis. I actually pullled the original novel off my bookshelf and added it to the top of my to be read pile. I was not a fan of Amanda Seyfried – she really did look pretty, but I just couldn’t handle the singing. I wanted her voice to be amazing and it was just okay. I think part of that is because Eddie Redmayne was so freaking amazing that when they did the duet, she just kind of faded away for me.

    I know Russell Crowe sings in a band called 30 Odd Foot of Grunts (and don’t ask me how I know that), and when I heard he was Javert, I wondered if his voice could stand up to it. It was okay. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great voice, but again, I wanted something more than just okay.

    Oh, and Mr. Redmayne – sigh. I was rereading Drums of Autumn (you know, for fun), and now that’s the voice I hear in my head when I imagine Roger Mac singing. My obsession with Outlander knows no bounds.

    • Words for Worms

      I really dug Enjolras’s singing in the movie too. Plus he was easy on the eyes. I think I’d pick his voice for my mental singing Roger voice, but it’s hard to say. Redmayne’s lamenting his dearly departed pals was Ah-mazing. You’ll be pleased tomorrow- I’m reviewing the latest Outlander novella. But it’s full of spoilers, so if you haven’t read it, go read it right now. It doesn’t take long, I promise :).

  10. Ashley F

    OMG I saw it on the 27th with my book club. LOVED IT. OMG LOVED IT. My ass fell asleep in the theatre but OMG. Hugh Jackman was epic. The physical transformation was amazing. Russell Crowe was good as the character, and OK when he was actually singing a song. But when it came to singing the dialogue portions I had to groan. The visual was stunning and I’m with you on Sam Banks. Apparently she sang the Eponine part for the 25th anniversary concert as well.

    I say give it all the oscars!!!

  11. CorrieP

    FINALLY saw it last night and cannot stop thinking about Gavroche…*tear*. So in love with the movie and the music…except the sewers. Real, yes, disgusting, yes…but Hugh Jackman with that much filth on his face is a travesty!!! ANYWAY..LOVE LOVE LOVE it and will probably drag the hubs to see it with me, cause I’m evil like that

    • Words for Worms

      Yes! Take the husband! It’s not even a girly show, it’s full of gross man things and guns! The sewer scene is Shawshank-esque, and every dude ever loves THAT movie.

  12. Lori

    Just found your blog via fourthstreetreview and I loved this post so much I had to comment. “Disgustingly gross”, “walking syphillis” – OMG I’m dying laughing!! That being said, I think maybe you loved the movie as much as I did. I saw the stage production several years ago but didn’t read the book until this past summer in anticipation of the movie. I was completely “wow’d” by the movie and agree it SHOULD WIN ALL THE OSCARS!! I gagged when I heard Taylor Swift auditioned. That would have been yuckity-yuck had she been in the movie. I had to hold back the ugly sobs. When it comes to DVD and I watch it in the privacy of my own living room I’ll just warn my family first and let it all go.

    • Words for Worms

      Thank you Lori, and WELCOME! Seriously, will you be shouting at the TV if they DARE not give Les Mis ALL THE OSCARS? I know I will. It shall be glorious. I shall also sing along in the comfort of my home… That… Will not be glorious, because I sing way way worse than Taylor Swift.

  13. Jennine G.

    Ok, I saw this posted as a favorite by someone in your August 2013 post, so I had to check it out because I knew from the title it was Les Mis. I had a crazy Les Mis period at the time you wrote this!

    My mom wanted to see the movie, so I read the unabridged version of Les Mis before the movie came out. I bought the soundtrack to start learning how the musical worked the storyline. Saw the movie after Christmas and then thought I should probably see the musical. It was playing in Pittsburgh January, only 40min from me, so hubby and I went. To be fair, our seats were far from the best…just okay really. But, it was hard to follow for me at times, let alone my clueless husband. We ended up paying a fortune later that night for a taxi to take us to a suburb to see the movie. My husband agrees it is better than the musical – at least the one we saw!

    But I agree with all your fangirlness over Les Mis! After reading it and especially after the movie, it replaced To Kill a Mockingbird as my favorite (or maybe tied it). And btw, this post was hilarious! I LOLed the whole time.

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