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Archive for February, 2013

The recent “Les Miserables” film was lovely. I particularly liked the way it portrayed the poverty of those times and the June rebellion. The actors did a very good job overall with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in the lead and Samantha Barks being very impressive ‘on her own’. Russell Crowe needed to bring a little more energy to his role; Javert is a fanatic and that needs to come across.

I noticed some differences between the film and the theatrical version of the musical, which I saw in London years ago and have listened to many times since then. Some parts of the theatrical version were omitted from the film version or modified, probably to suit the narrative or make for a shorter film.  I was disappointed with some of these alterations.

Here is a selection of verses from the theatrical version, which either did not make it to the film version or were altered:

1. The scene of Fantine’s death in hospital concludes with Valjean and Javert ending their dialogue on the same sentence. Of course, each one means it in a different way:

VALJEAN (turning to Fantine): And this I swear to you tonight…
JAVERT: There is no place for you to hide.
VALJEAN: Your child will live within my care.
JAVERT: Wherever you may hide away.
VALJEAN: And I will raise her to the light.
VALJEAN & JAVERT: I swear to you, I will be there!

The simultaneous ending is not in the film.

2. The song “Dog eats Dog”, which Thenardier sings in the sewers after the rebellion is over, illustrates that the actual onslaught was so appalling that even he – a thief and impostor – was shaken.

THENARDIER:
It’s a world where the dogs eat the dogs
Where they kill for the bones in the street
And God in His Heaven
He don’t interfere
‘Cos He’s dead as the stiff at my feet.
I raise my eyes to see the heavens
And only the moon looks down,
The harvest moon shines down!

Sadly, this is not in the film either.

3. Thenardier’s other song, “Beggars at the Feast”, shows that – even after his solemn realisation above – he is still his old self: a selfish opportunist! This was also left out.

4. Some of Valjean’s final verses before dying were replaced with others. Here is the theatrical version:

VALJEAN:
It’s a story
Of those who always loved you.
Your mother gave her life for you
Then gave you to my keeping.

5. Furthermore, I noticed that the order of pieces was altered. For example, “I Dreamed a Dream” comes after “Lovely Ladies” (scene with sailors and whores), whereas in the theatrical version it is the other way round. Another “swap” concerns “I Dreamed a Dream” and the incident with the cart.

SPOILER BELOW: Do not read if you haven’t yet seen the film!

I particularly liked the appearance of Colm Wilkinson, the very first London theatrical Valjean, as the Bishop. I thought it was a very good idea to have him appear at the end of the film, as if to say “Well done, Jean Valjean”/”Well done, Hugh Jackman”!

I duly acknowledge Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer and Jean-Marc Natel as owners of the copyright to the above quoted lyrics. They all did a fantastic job many years ago, which continues to inspire and thrill audiences to this very day. Thank you.

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