So last week I was talking to my mom on the phone while watching “Dancing with the Stars,” because we women are great at multitasking like that, when my ears caught the sound of something familiar and my gaze was caught by something that was clearly not the samba. And I turned up the volume and lo and behold, it was the trailer for the movie version of Les Misérables, due out at Christmas time. And my ability to multitask promptly went bye-bye as I tried, in my crazy-excited-incoherent way, to tell my mom what I was seeing as I was seeing it, which surely came out as a garbled string of words along the lines of wait, wow, Les Miz, cool, Anne Hathaway, I had no idea they were making a movie of this, oh my gosh, they’re making a movie of this, wow, wow, wow.
Watch it and see for yourself.
Are you as excited about this movie as I am? I’ve seen the play several times over the years, starting when I was in high school and had the most outrageous crush on the guy playing Marius in the San Francisco production, and of course I once had the soundtrack memorized and could play the songs on the piano and all that. And I was such a fan that I even read the zillon-page book, with a somewhat mixed reaction — yes, Victor Hugo could pen a great story, but wow, Victor Hugo was Mr. Tangent Man. He’d be writing a chase scene in which Valjean and Cosette are being pursued by Javert, and then he’d make them climb over the wall of a convent to hide, and then he’d promptly spend one hundred pages telling you everything you never wanted to know about the order of nuns who lived there, and what the Mother Superior was like, and what their daily nun-routine was like, and as the reader, I’m thinking, “Umm … chase scene? Where did you goooo?” It got very annoying. Either Victor had no editor, or his editor had no backbone.
But my own little tangent is over. Back to the musical: it looks amazing. The trailer made me want to cry (in a good way). And when I checked out the movie website, I found that what makes this different from other movie musicals is that the actors aren’t lip-synching to a pre-recorded soundtrack . They are actually preforming the songs live on set, which is something that has never been attempted on this scale before. This means it is likely to feel far more authentic, and less stagy, than such movie musicals usually are.
And watching the trailer made me realize how much I am longing to see this story, and these songs, in close-up. As a stage production, Les Miz is powerful, but it’s BIG: big set, big barricades, big voices, big gestures, big facial expressions. It’ll be a totally new experience seeing these characters in close-up, with the subtlety and intimacy that the movies can provide. I get chills just thinking about it.
Also, I’m realizing that the last time I saw the play was about fifteen years ago, at least. It was before having kids, before getting married — before many things, actually. Will my experience of Les Miz be different now that I’ve lived more, now that I have been deeply in love and had children and known loss and renewed my own faith? I’m guessing yes. I’m guessing that certain aspects of the story will pierce my soul in ways that they did not when I was twenty-four. And I’m mighty curious to see which ones.
So what about you — are you going to see the movie this Christmas season? What did you think of the trailer? Were you surprised that Anne Hathaway can actually sing? Do tell.