31 January 2013

Miserables

Excellent Anne Hathaway as Fantine
Les Miserables? I thought he was a comedian from Bradford - big on the working man's club circuit. Then I realised the film's title was in French so it was probably going to be about the SMT (Senior Management Team) at my old school in Sheffield - The Miserable Ones. Funny that isn't it? Back home the majority of teachers are such anxious, miserable s.o.b.'s that it is engrained in their faces - and they say that education should be enlightening!

But as I settled down into my plush cinema seat at the Major Cineplex in Ratchayothin, north Bangkok it suddenly dawned on me that I was about to watch a musical based on Victor Hugo's famous novel and not SMT members launching yet another tiresome "initiative" or dashing about school corridors chanting their silent mantra - "Do as I say, not as I do!".

The opening sequence of "Les Miserables" was awesome with hundreds of convicts and slaves pulling a broken warship into the dock of some French seaport as Russell Crowe's character Javert looked down from the high wall above - asserting justice, harshly protecting the righteousness of the French state.

I don't know if Anne Hathaway herself was singing the Susan Boyle song "I Dreamed a Dream", but this was a very moving section of the film and if the sound had been muted I would have still marvelled at Hathaway's emotional portrayal of this awful nadir in her character Fantine's tragic and economically blighted life.

The costume, make-up and hair in this excellent production deserve huge applause. There was such dirty, rotten detail in the players' fingernails and teeth. Sitting in a theatre with Dolby digital surround sound literally surrounding you really heightened the impact of the movie. However, having enjoyed the London stage version of this famous musical there was something inordinately odd about a film plot that was advanced almost entirely through song. A dark cinema allows for a more intimate, private experience than a West End theatre customarily provides. I am not inclined to follow suit by conducting professional and private communication through song as I fear this would soon involve the arrival of an unmarked van from the nearest lunatic asylum! But hey, I am still glad I bothered to go and see "Les Mis" and from me it gets a thumbs up for sure.

7 comments:

  1. Les miserables eh? It's a shame that Hugo's other opus, Les Deliriously Happies got tied up in bureaucracy and never saw the light of day. London shows amaze me.

    In my many schools as a sprog I witnessed one teacher who had even stopped offering "miserable". He "taught" history by walking into our classroom, sitting at his desk, opening his notes and reading aloud - he didn't ever check that he had a class in front of him by glancing up. The only time he varied this was one lesson - just the one lesson - on the Boer War, when he strode in without notes, beamed at everyone and gave an animated lecture. Then he walked out and the next lesson was back to "normal".

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  2. "emotional portrayal of this awful nadir in her character Fantine's tragic and economically blighted life"

    Poetry, one of the most beautifully constructed sentences I have had the pleasure of reading.

    Sir Owl, the animated and interesting lecture on the Boer War, was that perhaps because your teacher had fought in it?

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  3. Yes, Bird Man and I saw it last week. Brilliant. Exhausting, but brilliant.

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  4. YP
    Yes all of the actors belted out their own numbers......and I agree I loved the opening scenes.....
    I could almost see you as an excellent Javert............
    I bet you would look cracking in a bit hat

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  5. Big hat
    Dammm this ipad

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  6. I disagree with you, John Gray. I think Pudding would make a fine Thénardier.

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  7. Glad you liked it.

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