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reading tiger

Reading Wednesday: The Musical!

Although I did make some progress on the book version of Les Mis, this week I also took some time out of my busy schedule to watch the movie version of the musical version of Les Mis, which has been sitting on our DVR queue for a few months now thanks to some Free Preview Weekend or other. As I noted at the outset of this project, I have seen non-musical movie versions of this story before but never this particular take.

By the way, I am also passing fond of opera.

My reaction to the movie-musical: AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Spoilers follow.

First of all, it confirmed my belief that the "story" -- the plot -- of Les Mis is the excuse Hugo uses to propel you through his monumental chunks of text about Waterloo, the philosophical underpinnings of cloisterism and the problems thereof, etc. And his lengthy, lengthy character sketches. Think of the poor bishop, reduced to a smile and a halo. Dang. That's cold. My point being, the plot is the least important of the elements of Les Mis. It's just the glue. Here, the glue gets its own musical. It's not even a Cliff's Notes version of the book -- it's both (much!) shorter and lacking all of the thoughtful pauses, as it were. It's kind of weird. Entertaining, but weird.

I also never quite realized how much of opera and musical theater's sentimentality and camp-melodrama factor stems from characters being forced to sing out their own motivations. I mean, I guess I always cut it some slack due to the fact that interior monologues spoken aloud are just part of what makes theater theater, and is it such a big deal if those interior monologues are sung instead? And like I said, I like opera. But for some reason in Les Mis, it falls straight over into the completely ridiculous.

Also fascinating to watch the little changes to the story that ratchet up the sentimentality inch by inch. And also, the process of "how do we fit these characters into their stock musical roles?"

Everything you have heard about Russell Crowe's singing ability or lack thereof is true and then some. His labored bellow totally undermines the character of Javert, which is too bad. Man are we ever grateful when he finally throws himself in the Seine.

Crowe aside, I was unimpressed with the music but impressed with the performances of it. So I can see the appeal; I wanted to give Hugh Jackman a hug for the whole thing.

The random accent factor got a little silly after a while.

Also, why does Fantine the angel get her teeth back, but not her hair?

Anyway, it wasn't a bad way to entertain myself during a slow work day, but overall, I still prefer the Sesame Street version.


Oh I hadn't seen that before - it's great!