Written in 1862 by Victor Hugo, it was adapted for stage in 1980 (France) 1985 (UK) and 1987 (USA)…. Set against the 19th century French political turmoil, the story spans 17 years, where some characters survive struggles and some do not. The fact that the vocals were recorded live make the performances even more astonishing, but that is just one part of the brilliance of this film.
The production quality, the cinematography, the casting of EACH AND EVERY ARTIST, is top notch. Not only have the principal cast of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen shown terrific talent, but every character does their part supremely well. No wonder the Ensemble cast has been nominated 4 times and won twice!
How can you not be moved with what you see on the screen?They are wretched lives, which seem to have some or other redemption, but wretched nonetheless. While some get punished for stealing a loaf of bread, some are stripped of every shred of their dignity to survive. When we see how the rebellion started in France, it makes you think of all the people who fought for freedom of every nation, and how they drew strength from the small numbers who supported them.
The music, well, is legendary. Thankfully I was part of an audience who may not have appreciated it, but they didn’t let that hamper my experience.
The story challenges you in every way possible, there are plenty of twists and turns which keep the drama alive. You know that there might not be a happy ending, or a tragic one at that, but an end that the author saw fit. The story is 150 years old but is still relevant in times that have so drastically changed!
Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman stand apart from the brilliance and rightly so. Anne has won 8 awards, including the Golden Globe, she was nominated for 11 since this film got released and is on her way to win the BAFTA and Oscar, well deserved if she does.
This film may not be for everyone. It’s long at 2 hours 40 minutes, it’s an intense tragic/drama musical and the misery may not be for everyone to digest or appreciate. But it is a brilliant film and should be seen, heard, felt and experienced!