Saturday, March 31, 2012

Les Mis


(Note: spoilers ahead).

I came across a news item that Anne Hathaway, cast as Fantine in the movie version of the Les Mis musical, is doing some starvation dieting to film the the scenes of fantine's last days.  I was shocked.  Not at Anne Hathaway’s dieting but that there was a movie being made of the musical Les Miserables and I didn’t know a thing about it. 

Let me put on record that I consider Les Mis the best musical ever, way in front of Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago et al.  I hve been a fan ever since I saw the first Sydney production many many moons ago.  Normie Rowe was Jan Valjean and I saw it on the evening of Anzac Day, the last performance of the show.  The deaths of the students at the barricades were made all the more poignant for me by my having attended the Anzac Day march in the morning.  Since then I have never missed a performance, whether by professional or amateur companies.  I play the DVD (and before that the VHS video) of the London 10th anniversary concert, with Colin Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, every now and then and I watch every new dramatic version as well (in my opinion Geoffrey Rush has come closest to capturing the complexity of Inspector Javert).

So how did I not know that they are filming the musical version of Les Mis?

Here are some items of information, and some shocks, for like-minded Les Mis fans . . .

 It is being produced by by the Brit company Working Title Films, which has previously produced such flicks as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shaun of the Dead.  It has a tie-in with Universal Studios.,

Filming is underway, having started in February 2012, with release expected on 14 December 2012.

The movie is expected to be 2.5 hours long, will have little (if any) dialogue added to the stage musical version and will be filmed with performers singing live instead of dubbing.  There is to be one additional song, which will be written by the original composer Claude Michel-Schonberg. The song is called "Suddenly" and it explains what happens when Valjean takes Cosette from the inn and looks after her.

The following is the cast list (What??? , , ,  No, you read it right . . .):

Jean Valjean
Hugh Jackman
Inspector Javert
Russell Crowe
Anne Hathaway
Eddie Redmayne
Amanda Seyfried
Young Cosette
Isabelle Allen
Samantha Barks
Sacha Baron Cohen
Madame Thenardier
Helena Bonham carter
Aaron Tveit
Daniel Huttlestone
Bishop of Digne
Colin Wilkinson

The director is Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), whose dad is a pom and whose mum is an Aussie.

It will be filmed in 2D rather than 3D.  According to Tom Hooper:   “I slightly worry with 3D that some people will physically struggle with it. If you have a certain type of eyesight it can be more demanding than watching a normal movie."

 According to British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of the pic, "Even though I have dreamt about making the film of Les Misérables for over 25 years, I could never have imagined that we would end up with the dream director Tom Hooper, and the dream cast of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as the two great protagonists Jean Valjean and Javert. Not only were they born to play these roles vocally, but they thrillingly inhabit this great score.”

Some pics:

Russell Crowe in costume on the set of Les Mis
(Click on the images to enlarge).

Hugh Jackman as the convict Jean Valjean

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to watch the DVD again . . .  Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men? It is the song  . .

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