Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Monday, 14 January 2013 23:08

'Les Miserables' makes demands but moves all the same

'Les Miserables' makes demands but moves all the same
Written by Martha K. Baker
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

  • Director: Roger Michell
  • Dates: Opened December 25, 2012

With barely a word spoken, "Les Miserables" is closer to operetta than splashy musical. The Broadway musical and the movie are based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel about poverty, death, injustice and orphans who would become so famous.

It's not even about the French Revolution but about a little-known rebellion, known as the Paris Uprising of 1832. Some of us actually read Victor Hugo's novel in high school but still wonder what all the brouhaha is about the stage show. It's beloved on stage, perhaps, because of the songs, such as "I Dreamed a Dream," made even more famous by Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent."

"Les Miserables" is the story of vengeance between a gendarme named Javert and Jean Valjean, a thief, guilty of stealing but a loaf of bread. Intersecting their lives are a seamstress, named Fantine; her daughter Cosette, reared by (plot alert) Valjean; two opportunists who fostered Cosette; assorted rebels with a cause against the royals; and countless chorus members.

William Nicholson wrote the screenplay, based on the original stage book by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil; the two added a song, "Suddenly," to the libretto for the film, and Tom Hooper, who directed "The King's Speech," recorded the actors singing the songs in situ rather than recording the voices and dubbing them. That means the songs are not polished; intervals, familiar from the Jaques Brel songbook, are sometimes a struggle even for such singers as Hugh Jackman as Valjean. Jackman's voice seems far too strained too often for beauty.

Anne Hathaway does a passable job as Fantine singing "I Dreamed a Dream" as the camera sits on her face on the right side of the screen. Amanda Seyfried manages Cosette as an adult. The most fun comes from Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, who serve as comic relief, in both story and song -- and costume. The best voice of all, the one most associated with the sound of the Broadway musical, is Eddie Redmayne's when he sings "Empty Chairs, Empty Tables."

Hooper moved "Les Mis" off the stage into the streets and sewers and cloisters. He directs his cameras very close to his characters to allow people who saw the stage play from the nose-bleed sections, finally, to feel part of the action, to be in puddles of blood and riddles of confusion. A suicide scene, roiling with white waters set on boil, swirls majestically.

"Les Miserables," le film, is not for everyone, but it is still capable of heart-grabbing in the end, which comes 157 demanding minutes after the beginning.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight

Karate Bikini - A Simpler Sugar

Wed November 26
Karate Bikini is an eight piece ensemble who's members hail from St. Louis and the metro area. They are a large band with a large sound. Their latest album A Simpler Sugar is full of upbeat pop songs,…

KDHX Recommends


It's All About M.E. (Musical Edu-tainment)

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the 1960's to the present as DJ G Wiz presents a musical and visual mix of soul, hip hop, pop, r & b and jazz.



Recording Clinic with Patrick Crecelius

KDHX is proud to host a DIY mixing workshop for musicians at The Stage at KDHX. The clinic will be taught by Patrick Crecelius of Cedar Box Studio. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, his credits include such local artists as Ryan...

Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at

Online Users

13 users and 8726 guests online
Sign in with Facebook


Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook