Let me begin by telling you that I fell in love with Les Miserables when we read it in eighth grade English.
The story utterly captured my imagination, my heart, my soul.
I knew, at 14, that this was a story that would stay with me forever.
And yet, I was fairly surprised when I heard that it had been made into a Broadway musical.
Such incredible sadness in this story.
Hard to imagine how they would put this story to music.
I have seen Les Miserables on Broadway six times and have sobbed my way through every single show.
The story, the unbelievable music.
The unbelievable music and the voices that have brought it to life.
Another disclaimer…I’m a musical crier.
Just the right voice hitting just the right note.
Music swelling to reach the point of no return.
It makes my breath hitch in my chest and I can’t breathe for a few seconds.
I’ve been known to even cry while singing beautiful pieces in church, not at my own part in it, but in being a part of the whole.
So, as soon as the trailers started hitting the internet for the movie version of Les Miserables, (not the Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush version that came out a few years ago, although that was pretty good for a non-musical version of the story), I was very excited.
Then, I saw the trailer that showed that the actors were actually singing as they were being filmed and that was what was going in the movie.
I was blown away by the possibility.
It gave them freedom to really feel the songs as they went and guide the music to the emotion and play off of the other characters.
Last night, Real Man and I finally got to the theater to see it.
We figured that, since it’s been out for two weeks, we’d be relatively alone in the theater.
We wound up in the 2nd row.
Definitely not alone.
However, I have never been in a quieter theater.
From the moment the first note was sung, the audience was completely silent.
I liked it.
I liked it a lot.
I thought Anne Hathaway was phenomenal. Fantine was always one of my favorite characters and Anne Hathaway brought her to the screen perfectly.
I thought everyone else was also well-cast, and I loved the way some of the scenes were created to be expanded a bit to show things that you just can’t show on the stage.
Here’s what I missed.
There is something about Broadway that utterly surrounds you with the music, and you just don’t get that in a theater.
And maybe it was the theater we were in, or maybe the good speakers were a few rows behind the second row, but I missed the volume.
When the music swelled, it didn’t really…swell.
When those beautiful voices were hitting those impossibly smooth notes, it didn’t quite hit my eardrums loudly enough.
“Do You Hear the People Sing” should be rocketing me out of my seat.
“One Day More” should make my skin wrinkle with goosebumps at the power of those voices coming together.
Yet, while the voices were all they could be and they were amazing, it just wasn’t loud enough for me.
It was almost like background.
And that took some of the enjoyment out of it for me.
When it eventually comes out on DVD, I’ll blast it.
Heck, maybe I’ll even buy surround sound just for that DVD, because that’s how this music is supposed to be heard.
But, even with that, the story remained the same.
It’s a story about loyalty, redemption, and the inherent goodness of people.
It’s about love.
It’s about friendship.
It’s about bravery.
There just isn’t a character in the story that you don’t want to embrace and say “It will be okay…I promise, it will.”
And for most of them, it isn’t okay, but then, there they all are at the end and suddenly, it is.
It is inspired and it reminds me, once again, that there is something inside all of us that strives for greatness and goodness, and if we go for it, we will be rewarded.
27 years ago, I encountered this story for the first time, and I have read it many, many times since then.
I have watched it live six times since then.
I have now watched it on film, and I have a feeling, I will do so many times again.
Victor Hugo…I wonder if he had any idea.