Saturday, April 2, 2011

Becoming Familiar with Les Miserables

Les Miserables is for everyone. As far as musicals go, it is in a class of it's own. There is no way to explain it....except that Les Miz is a beautiful, beautiful story that includes sadness, but is ultimately a story about deep characters and good news.

"There is a flame that never dies."
Bracelet by Foxwise
One of the multiple prizes for the essay contest.

Les Miserables week is approaching and I hope some of you are working on your essays for the contest. :-)

If you aren't a Les Miz fan yet, you still have time. :-) Here are a few ways to learn about the story--

Victor Hugo's unabridged book is obviously the best way to go. :-) This is a serious time investment, but Hugo is an intriguing writer even when he's telling you about the history of the sewers of Paris for 40 pages.

If you start the book and find yourself getting lost...or if you're not ready for the time commitment...check out one of the below--

Focus on the Family has a very good dramatized audio adaption. It gives the wonderful overall flavor of the book and the central themes. It is washed over to be a little more family friendly...which does make it loose some of the actual power of the story for Fantine. Otherwise it is much truer to the book than movie versions. Brian Blessed does a wonderful job as Jean Valjean.

I think it's about $10. You can see it here on Amazon.

Liam Neeson and Geoffery Rush create interesting characters in the 1998 movie production, but, as far as I can see, the movie totally misses the central themes of the book. There are a few amazing moments, but they just don't follow-through. It's a good movie, but doesn't really give the truth about Victor Hugo's story.

I've seen older movie versions as well. Some followed the book a bit better, but for some reason Jean Valjean always has to hit Javert to get away which really bothers me.

The 10th Anniversary Dream Cast is my favorite musical recording and movie performance. However, it is if your not familiar with the story you will have to fill in the gaps.

The 25th Anniversary Musical movie performance is probably the easiest to acquire. It's currently in most Redboxes and in Netflix. This is the unabridged musical and includes more acting than the 10th. It's very good, but at least Jean Valjean and Marius are far superior in the 10th Anniversary edition. (That may just be personal opinion...)

There are of course other very good musical recordings as well, but if you are unfamiliar with the story it's best to see who's singing to sort things out.

Wikipedia on the book here.
Wikipedia on the musical here.

Another avenue is to accost a Les Miz fan and asks them why it's so cool. Most of us are pretty eager to jump up and down and scream :-)

Let me know if you have other suggestions or questions.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian


Molly @ A Bit O' Shine said...

One of these days I will definitely read that book! Considering it is about twice the length of Middlemarch (which is what I'm reading now) and that has taken me...months and I still have about 200 pages to go...
Yeah, serious time investment. But I totally believe you that it's worth it. :)

Robert said...

Have you seen the version with Anthony Perkins (of Psycho fame)? I don't recall Valjean hitting Javert in order to get away... but it was a long time ago that I saw it.

God bless you.

semuflax said...
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