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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Les Miserables: Can’t Wait!

The film, based on the musical based on Victor Hugo’s book (and probably my favorite musical of all time), is set to release this Christmas. They’ve just released an extended first look, and I have to say, I can’t wait to see the movie.


http://youtu.be/wwgQjfg0hZw

Same for any movie (or play), you want it to look right and sound right. It’s particularly important for Les Miserables to get these things right, visually because it’s a period piece where the sets and costumes need to put you in the correct time and place, and aurally because it’s a musical.

When I saw this clip, the first few shots immediately caught my eye. The cinematography simply looked fantastic. That’s when I thought this movie looked very promising. I am quite satisfied with how it looks. And it will be interesting to see how the director imagined the entire environment, since what I am familiar with is the stage version, where you can only have so many set pieces and scene/costume changes.

And now, the singing. This is very important for a musical, obviously. I agree with the decision to cast film/TV actors instead of actors that have been mostly doing stage. Performing in front of a camera is still different from performing on stage, after all. However, when Phantom of the Opera was made into a movie, which many people loved, I found the singing to be a little weak and underwhelming, especially considering it’s a story about an amazing soprano and her music teacher. I personally prefer watching the stage version featuring top-notch stage performers who sang this stuff day in and day out.

So yeah, I was just hoping that they would cast capable singers. This is especially important because this musical is more operatic than most. I was happy to hear that they cast Hugh Jackman as the lead. I believe Hugh Jackman can make any musical awesome. I was also glad to hear that they cast Samantha Barks as Eponine. I know she will be great since we’ve already heard her in the 25th Anniversary Concert. (It was at one point rumored that Taylor Swift was being considered for the role. That would just be… really strange.) There’s also this video where someone cut together clips of the actors of all the major characters singing. While I don’t know how well the singing style translates, they are all capable singers, and many of them have been classically trained at one point. So singing wise, I think this cast can delivery.

Another thing that really grabbed my interest was that they are singing every take live, instead of lip-syncing to something that they recorded in studio beforehand. This is an interesting thing to do, because it’s not something that’s normally done. I think it’s a great idea because the performances will be a lot more real and in the moment. It does mean that the actors need to be more capable singers though, since they can’t fix it as much as they do in studio. And the editing is going to be trickier because now you would have more variations among the different takes. Still, though, I think it’s a good thing to do. It’s what I like about the stage, that raw and immediate emotion that’s just happening at that time. Besides, doing lip-sync convincingly is actually harder than you might imagine. I am a puppeteer. I know.

In the interview, Anne Hathaway said, “There seems to be something selfish about trying to go for the pretty version.” When I heard that, the first thought that crossed my mind was “wait, is she talking about me?” At one point, I was thinking, how about we just find the best singers, have them record the songs, and just have the actors mime them? After all, many Disney animated features have two different voice actors for one character, one talking, and the other singing. But now I am buying into this singing everything live, no studio recording idea.

And a few more stray observations:
1) I have never seen such a clean-shaven Valjean. It’s probably because on stage, they don’t have enough time to put on and take off the beard. Probably the first time I see Javert having more facial hair than Valjean.
2) The idea that Eponine was singing “On My Own” in the rain never occurred to me, even though the lyrics did say “In the rain, the pavement shines like silver” and later she did sing “A Little Fall of Rain” with Marius. See? This is what a movie can do better than the stage version.
3) It looks like this pair of Marius and Cossette have great chemistry from the little ways they touch and look at each other. This will definitely add to the film.
4) Samantha Barks looked great as Eponine in this video! I have never seen an Eponine looking that good.

Did I mention that I can’t wait for this film to come out? 😀

Comments

  1. October 4th, 2012 | 2:37 pm

    Kelvin,

    I would never had known about the background to this new film without visiting here today. I loved this video and your commentary about it. I also agree with what Anne Hathaway said…I’d rather have the raw emotion in the songs than just another pretty song. To me, the mark of a good remake of a movie or a play is that is does something slightly better or more special than the original. Otherwise why redo it? From this clip, it looks this version will succeed in meeting that mark:~) I look forward to watching it!!!
    Sara recently posted..A Sexy SceneMy Profile

  2. October 4th, 2012 | 3:18 pm

    Many singers have sung these songs. I still tend to prefer the more dramatic interpretations over the elegant sounding ones in general.

    I also like that we will be able to see more subtle things with the close-ups, which you can’t do for stage, and the singing can also be more subtle (and less big) with all the editing and sound mixing tools available for movie theater speakers. Not to say which one is better, but a change of medium can definitely lead to new interpretations.
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Les Miserables: Can’t Wait!My Profile

  3. October 15th, 2012 | 10:05 pm

    Wow, you’re really a Les Miz connoisseur, huh? I have the same kind of relationship with Wicked. I need to, of course, due to my aspirations to play The Wizard in the movie version. :) Yeah, I know Gerard Butler got some accolades for his performance in Phantom, but I can’t say I was awed by his singing.
    Chris Edgar recently posted..My Top 10 Pop Song Cliches, Part 2My Profile

  4. October 15th, 2012 | 11:47 pm

    I still haven’t seen Wicked. The last time it was in town, I sold my ticket to a friend so he could take his girlfriend. But hey, you just inspired me to look at the tour schedule again. It will be coming to a city that’s farther away next year, but still within reasonable distance. Maybe I will see it then. The Wizard is awesome, of course.

    In the Phantom movie, I feel like the one playing Raoul is the best singer among the three, which is a little odd.
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Les Miserables: Can’t Wait!My Profile

  5. October 24th, 2012 | 12:42 pm

    Kelvin,

    I just wanted to say thank you to you. Whenever I put up a post, you are almost always the first person to visit. I delight in getting your comments and I’m very thankful I’ve gotten to know you.

    One request: I do wish you’d put another puppet video — one of your own. I still love to watch Bottle Monster open the iPad. I laugh so hard with this one. I can’t explain why it makes me laugh so hard, but it does:~)

  6. October 24th, 2012 | 4:40 pm

    Hi Sara, thank you for your continual support. I am always glad to see you around.

    Recently I’ve been pretty busy. There was a student film with Chapman University that has puppets that I helped out with. I am going to wait till that’s out. And I am going to be helping out with a Columbia student film these two weekends. Not with puppets, but for a film that takes place in Chinatown and I worked with the writer and co-producer to translate and rewrite the part that’s going to be in Chinese. And these are all in addition to my day job.

    But I will soon post about a video for a high school theater program fund raiser that we’ve recently finished. And there’s another benefit show for Michael Earl coming up that I am working on. So yeah, you shall see something very soon. :-)
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Les Miserables: Can’t Wait!My Profile

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