Monday, March 7, 2011
Les Miserables Fan Video
I'm not one for fan videos, but this is really excellent. It takes footage from the 1998 film version and superimposes it onto 'Do You Hear The People Sing'. Rather than trivializing the (already slightly trivial) song, it amplifies the epic sweep which the song is intended to make us feel.
I spent most of tonight watching the 25th anniversary concert for Les Miserables. As a production it was pretty awful, but for nostalgia's sake it was a long-overdue revisit to a piece I've known from memory since I was six years old.
I'd hardly claim Les Miz as an extraordinary work of art. The only part of it that rings of true genius is the organizational acumen required to create the franchise it became -- if Cameron Mackintosh were a General, he'd have wrapped up Iraq and Afghanistan by the second year.
But we underestimate Les Miz's quality at our own risk. It is a solidly built musical that translates the epic sweep of 19th century literature -- preserving all its outsize passions, its melodrama, its social consciousness, and its ridiculousness -- into a vernacular that contemporary audiences can understand. It is, very simply, a great musical. Is it great art? Probably not. But who cares?
Also, even if the musical is not a great work of art, the long-awaited movie version now has a chance to be so. I've long thought that for Les Miz to work on the screen, it would have to be steeped in realism. We must see the dirt in the Parisian streets and the yellow of the character's teeth. News recently leaked that the Les Miz movie will, most likely, be directed by Tom Hooper. Most people now know Hooper as the director of The King's Speech. But I know Hooper as the director of the extraordinary (albeit uneven) miniseries based on the life of John Adams. Hooper recreated Colonial America so vividly that I have near-infinite faith in his ability to do the same for 1848 Paris.
(Amazing. Just watch. If this is not the man to direct Les Miz, nobody is)