It was on the 8th October 1985 that Les Miserables was first performed on stage, after a shaky start, it has become the longest running musical of all time. So it is about time they made it into a film. Packed with an astonishing amount of star power, including Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables is expected to bring in the audience in the lull after Christmas with its delightfully melancholy subject matter and sombre belters. The film is adapted from the musical which is based on the 1862 novel Les Misérables by French author Victor Hugo. It sees Jean Valjean (Jackman) leave prison after 19 years and end up breaking his parole in order to turn his life around. Several years later, Valjean is a successful businessman known for his kindness. Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), who was a prison guard during Valjean’s prison sentence, eventually finds out who he is and vows to bring him to justice. There are other threads to the narrative including Valjean’s guilt over the firing of Fantine (Hathaway), a single mother who worked at his factory forced into prostitution to care for her child, Cosette; a love triangle between the grown Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), the student revolutionary Marius(Eddie Redmayne), and poor street thief Eponine(Samantha Barks); the exploits of Eponine’s villainous parents, the Thenardiers,(Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen) and the lives of the poor in post-revolution France as a revolutionary group starts a battle in the streets of Paris.
The combination of Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen will be nothing short of spectacular, having both performed in Sweeney Todd, we know they can sing and the flair they bring to anything they do will be perfect for the horrible Thenardiers. Anne Hathaway’s performance is rumoured to be harrowing, she even shaved her hair off staying true to her character Fantine. Bringing in Samantha Banks who is reprising her role of Eponine from the 25th Anniversary Special of Les Miserables, is a good move as it showcases the new British talent that is just as good as the seasoned Americans and Aussies.
Tom Hooper, the film’s director, who has The King’s Speech to his credits, has indicated that the performers sing live on set, departing from the usual practice of miming to pre-recorded playback. Typically, the soundtrack for a film musical is recorded several months in advance and the actors mime to playback during filming. Everyone involved, from Hugh Jackman to Russell Crowe to producer Cameron Mackintosh, have praised this approach as it allowed them to concentrate on their acting.
Composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyricist Alain Boublil wrote a new song exclusively for the film. Schönberg also composed new incidental music. This may upset fans of the musical but it will showcase the film in its own right.
Les Miserables will open in cinemas on 11th January 2013. It is advisable to book in advance and bring plenty of tissues.