Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:08

'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

Dad Jr: Get Down. Hard.

Sun June 29

Graham Pagano

Mon June 23
Graham Pagano's debut album Quit Complaining is a high charged mix of old and new music. his old blues and classic country feel blended up with a rock and roll attitude makes this stripped down album explode…

KDHX Recommends


Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014 Harvest Sessions welcomes Genevieve -- featuring Rebecca Ryan and Leslie Sanazaro -- to the West Pool Pavilion for a morning of acoustic music. This free Saturday morning concert series takes place at the Tower Grove Farmers'...


88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars for a family matinee Sunday, July 27 at Noon. Kids under two are free. $8 advance tickets on sale now. Tickets available at the door for $10. Kids under two are free. For...


Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.   Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a...

Get Answers!

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

Online Users

6 users and 7339 guests online
Sign in with Facebook


Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook