Viclesmiserablestor Hugo Scores Again

Les Miserables---DVD
Stars:  Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Tom Hooper
Scriptwriters: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer
Music: Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
Cinematography: Danny Cohen
Rating: PG 13 for suggestive material, violence and themed material
Running Length: 158 minutes
“Les Miserables,” one of the favorite musicals, has been  made into a major motion picture and is now available on DVD, that includes Blu-Ray, Digital and Ultraviolet. Not only is the film there, but extra’s such as interviews with the stars, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway; Tom Hooper, director; features on creating the movie sets; the history of the original book author, Victor Hugo, and commentary on the film, itself. “Les Miz” fans, and those new to the story, will be in motion picture bliss.
Victor Hugo’s novel is set around the time of the 1820’s French Revolution. It is a story of rigid laws, redemption, love and salvation. The main character, Valjean (Hugh Jackman), stole bread to feed his sister’s children and got 19 years at hard labor. This is where the movie begins, as the prisoners are in water, moving a tall sailing ship into the harbor. They are watched by the chief lawman, Javert (Russell Crowe) who doesn't like the restless spirit of Valjean. Soon, it is time to be released on parole and Valjean gets into trouble with a priest and Javert again. He manages to escape and from then on, leads a guarded life, ever looking over his shoulder for Javert to appear. Valjean becomes mayor of a town, has his own money, and then meets Fantine (Anne Hathaway), who has an illegitimate child (Cosette, first played by Isabelle Allen and as an adult by Amanda Seyfried.) Fantine goes through desperate measures to get money for her child, but eventually, Valjean takes the child and raises her as his own.
Fast-forward 15 years or so, and Cosette is an adult falling for the young revolutionary, Marius (Eddie Redmayne). Javert is still lurking around and between the Revolution, barricades, Valjean trying to escape from Javert (talk about a one-purpose man) and secrets being revealed, the story moves forward against a lush background. Javert is the man who pursues with a single purpose---capture, while Valjean conceals with a single purpose---protection. A priest helps Valjean at a crucial time in his life. This is a turning point for a man who spent 19 years at hard labor, to find that the Church would give him aid.
“Les Miserables,” the Broadway musical, is famous for several songs, including “Look Down,” “Lovely Ladies,” “I Dreamed A Dream,” “Master of the House,” “Do You Hear The People Sing” and “Bring Him Home.” They are in the film, as well as a new one, “Suddenly,” sung by Valjean. The stars of this movie do their own singing and are not strangers to the musical stage. Anne Hathaway, who won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Fantine, studied music and Anne’s mother was on a National Tour of “Les Miserables” when Anne was a child. Russell Crowe has his own band, Amanda Seyfried has done musical theater, Samantha Banks was in “Les Miserables” before and Hugh Jackman is well-known as a Broadway musical star. The actors practiced singing and walking so as to appear natural in their roles. It worked. The surprise in the film, as comic relief, are Helen Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thenardier’s, who would do just about anything for money.
My favorite scenes were the opening scene that makes you forget about your popcorn and soda, the confrontations between Javert and Valjean, Fantine singing “I Dreamed A Dream” and Valjean singing “Bring Him Home.”
Set design is spectacular from the opening scene of prisoners pulling a ship to shore in shoulder-high water to warm interior shots inside buildings to the Revolution and what happens in narrow streets to the ever-present river, that could have been listed as an actor by itself. It conceals and cleanses.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
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