Friday, September 21, 2012
LES IS MORE
Victor Hugo wrote the book but he probably never imagined Les Miserables would sweep the world like revolutionary wildfire. He certainly never envisioned a musical based on his book about poverty and revolution variously translated from the French as The Miserable, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims--this was not your typical musical fare--or the massive ticket sales fired by Les Miz Mania, or the mountains of merch: T-shirts and key-chains and totebags emblazoned with the likeness of the long-suffering waif, Cosette. Now Tom Hooper, the award-winning director behind "The King's Speech," is making a movie musical version of "Les Miserables" in case you didn't get swept up in Les Miserables the first time through (too mainstream and low brow for your sophisticated tastes?) or didn't read the Hugo book. (So what's your problem? Heart made of stone?) Maybe a musical won't turn you into a revolutionary firebrand, but it's nice to see some radical heroes storming the power structure in this day and age of corporate servitude and brazen insensitivity for the poor (Mitt Romney, anyone?), when open contempt for the 99% (or more recently, the 47%) is casual and tossed off like breadcrumbs. If you're used to musicals about giant singing Cats, or Lion Kings, you may experience some culture shock being slammed headfirst into hard time Bagne prison in Toulon in 1815, or the sewers of Paris, but don't worry, you'll be climbing the barricades by the end of the first act. This star-studded call to arms stars Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, and unlike standard musicals the stars will sing live on camera, so we'll get a risky raw feel more appropriate to the material than the usual slick sound sung in the studio and tacked on after the fact. Skip the T-shirt and take the message home.