“Les Miserables:” worth a second watch

Elaina Lin, Theatre and Dance Reporter

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With a story so touching and that has elicited tears from so many individuals, Les Miserable has been adapted from the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo to not only a musical on Broadway, but a recent film of the same name.

Having also directed “The King’s Speech,” the British director Tom Hooper again created another sensational and successful film.

Situated in early 19th-century France, a French peasant, Jean Valjean, seeks freedom, as well as redemption after serving 19 years in jail for simply stealing a loaf of bread for his family. Though he may initially have had good intentions, he, as well as many other characters, faces challenges and moral issues as they make a revolutionary stance in France.

Featuring several American and Australian actors, with British accents in a French setting, “Les Miserablés” brings back familiar faces such as Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried.

As I sat in the theatres, with vignettes of heartbreaks and death flickering before me, I could hear soft sounds of sniffling around me. It is no surprise why Facebook newsfeeds were flooded with statuses about how the poignant film brought them teary eyes. Since the film was an adaptation of the theatre musical, the actors’ voices were filled with more pain and guilt than could be expressed or conveyed through regular speech. Though some may prefer “Les Miserablés” performed live on stage, I must say the film itself was engaging enough. The big screen held close-up views of the characters’ visages of grief and suffering. Only then, you would realize the screen was a mirror, as tears stream down your face, too. With the cold rain pouring on Eponine and as she walks on the bitter, dark street, she sees her unrequited love before her eyes, pulling her to cry along with the rain as she whispers songs of her sorrow for no one to hear.

Nonetheless, “Les Miserablés” had its moments of lively and upbeat music, as the revolutionists fearlessly sang their way onto the streets for battle. The musical scores certainly swept audiences from their ordinary lives as it took them along the adventures of courage, war, and love. All of a sudden, the crackling of bullets and guns wake you up and take you along into the French revolution as the Reds chant their courage and fearlessness. New music was also composed for this version, such as for the battle scenes, called “Suddenly.” Although the order of several musical numbers is different from that of the stage musical, the film was still effective in creating an effusive atmosphere and mood.

“Les Miserablés” illustrates a lot about important themes and issues as the audience surrounds themselves in the mix of romance, war, poverty, and social injustice. It is certainly worth seeing, even if again, but just remember to bring a box of Kleenex with you when you walk into the theatre.