Tom Hooper’s version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Miserables made an extraordinary appearance on the big screen with its powerful message, exceptional music and cinematography. It comes as no surprise that the movie version of the beloved epic has scooped a total of eight Academy Award nominations, including best picture.
The movie was classified as a musical but with its complicated themes and conversations it is more of an opera in which the cast of top Hollywood stars actually sings.
Victor Hugo’s 1862 classic novel has been adapted for the screen multiple times, most recently this was Billie August’s Les Miserables from 1998 starring Liam Neeson as Valjean and Geoffrey Rush as Javert. Last year’s musical however, was adaptation of a 1987 Tony-award winning musical, and showed us that music can be as powerful as Hugo’s words.
The film tells the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a Frenchman who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. After he breaks the parole he is chased by ruthless Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) for two decades. Years after Valjean escapes from prison he becomes a respected mayor of the little town of Vigau as well as a generous owner of a factory. One of the workers at the factory, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) has a child but was fired by the manager and falls ill. Valjean is feeling guilty and begins taking care of her but she eventually dies and her little daughter is left alone. Valjean then takes the girl Cosette (Amanda Sayfried) and raises her as his own daughter.
The story continues after years when Cosette is a sweet and beautiful young woman and falls in love with the young French revolutionary Marius (Eddie Redmayne). Of course the tale of Jean Valjean and his daughter is very dramatic, the additional French Revolution at some point becomes the main issue, and the authentic human characters makes us go back in 19th century France.
One of the strongest features of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables is the acting of Hugh Jackman. Some critics say this is the role of his life – he gives his best as Valjean in a very close and naturalistic way. The overall experience of seeing (and hearing!) the movie can be described as merely powerful. The music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil are a real masterpiece, and not only for those who love musicals.