Friday, February 01, 2013

Les Misérables - a preamble to a film review

I've never seen / been lucky enough to see Les Misérables on stage.  Helen has seen the Glums on stage, lucky swine (and relatively early in its history).  Nevertheless, the soundtrack and the 10th anniversary performance are ingrained in my heart.

Indeed, back when the original soundtrack album for Les Misérables came out, I lost count of how often I borrowed the double album from Nottingham libraries.  I must have worn out at least three copies so often did it get played on my much-adored but scrappy boxed record player.  Renewed to within an inch of being barred from borrowing it ever again, I would sing out every song.

It was only when I bought a highlights version of the album (abbreviatedly titled "Les Miz highlights" - urgh what a horrid title!) as a present for a friend a few years ago that I listened to any of the tracks after so many years.

But even then I didn't overplay it; the tracks were like greeting some old friends but aware of the hours of tears I had sobbed over the vinyl, I didn't get really back into it.

What I did find was just how easily I could recall the songs and sing them to myself.

And then there was the news about the film version...

Crikey: it seemed an odd propostion at first - Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Hugh Jackman as Valjean.  How was THAT going to work?  Jackman at least had musical form, but Rusty could be best described as an 'acquired taste', and Hathaway?  Really?

Then the trailer came out: bloody hell... This had potential.

And then the BeVox choir announced that to co-incide with the film release they would 'bring back' their medley version of songs from Les Misérables.  For me, this was new territory of course, as everyone at choir keeps forgetting I actually only joined a season and a half ago (this is my third season I'll be singing, but I didn't join til week 5 in the May of 2012)*.

So I started listening to the medley we would be doing and it all began to flood back.  I've been a tad reluctant to go back to the originals too much because I need to focus on learning, remembering and singing to the arrangments/combination of tracks that we're doing for BeVox, but the urge is proving strong.

I had to see the film of course: the Tuesday choir session after it had been released in the UK, already a sizeable proportion had been to see it, and near unanimously voted with their tears how good it was.  As work wasn't getting any less busy, and both Neil and I acclimatized to post-holiday, snowy UK life again, Helen and I plotted to use our planned weekend in London as a way of seeing the film.

The Odeon Leicester Square was calling us...

* I'm taking it as a compliment that I've fitted right in, but blimey it's exhausting constantly reminding people I haven't actually sung most of the songs/arrangements that are bought back from previous seasons for big performances!


JoeinVegas said...

Wow, three posts all at once - almost RR overload.
Went to see Les Miz, and thoroughly did not like it. Unfortunately the film was a good interpretation of what life was like back then, and it all looked too miserable (good descriptive word), dirty and horrible to live like most of the characters did. And the closeups - an entire giant wide screen filled with one face - glad we sat toward the back. I would much rather have an uplifting musical than one where almost everyone dies.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I think the problem there then Joe is not so much with the movie as the nature of Les Mis the musical! Yes it is bleak - Helen doesn't call it 'The Glums' for nothing. But that's the nature of it. I quite like Carousel and that's hardly a barrel of laughs either... I think I just like bleak. It's all those major minor descant counterpoint songs that just trigger the tear buds...!