Way, way back when we first got married, we made a list of movies we wanted the other to see.
On the top of Tim’s list was Les Miserables, the 10th anniversary edition.
True confession: While I seem to attract Les Mis fanatics as roommates (Hi, Heather! Hi, Tim!), I had here-to-fore this weekend no clue why (why they were fanatics or why I attracted them…I have since ascertained that an exemplary taste in music closely correlates with an exemplary choice in roommates).
Well, despite its highly ranked status on our list of must watch movies, it took us until last weekend to finally track down the right version, seat ourselves amid couch cushions and cozy blankets, and spectate away to our hearts content.
It’s a 2+ hour production, so we split it up between two evenings. And I have to be honest: I loved it. But at first, I was a little taken aback. Tim had tried to prepare me by describing what we were about to see as a ‘musical’. In MY vocabulary, musical=Sound of Music=a regular movie + some singing on the side. So here I am, settled in to watch a movie + some extra good sound track (Tim’s head for music far surpasses anything I could ask or imagine, so if he says the melodies are worth hearing, I have 3,000% confidence that I’m in for a real treat). Imagine my consternation when the opening scene features a conductor and his orchestra! No typical movie, this–but a musical in the most musical sense (the entire thing was sung! What novelty! What beauty! What inspiration! What huge gaps in the plot line!)
Seriously, though, once I adjusted my expectations…I realized I would want it no other way. The orchestral score, true to my husband’s prediction, was phenomenal. The singers themselves were a marvel. The scope and depth of the subject and the characters left me with a deep respect for Victor Hugo as a writer. I was touched, stirred, and provoked to thought. I thrilled with every gospel reference–explicit Christian themes neither trite nor dismissive, but deep and thoughtful and honest! Although the original work is decidedly Roman Catholic, this particular portrayal places less emphasis on Roman Catholicism and more emphasis on the Law and Gospel themes—which is one reason Tim likes it so extra well.
That’s my exuberant plug for this musical. Here are my cautionary notes: if Tim had not been there explaining the plot to me, I would have at times been completely lost as to what was happening. Apparently some versions have text on the screen in between songs telling you what is happening–but ours did not. So either make sure you find a version that does, you are familiar with the story, or you watch it with someone who is in the know.
Also, the innkeeper’s language was quite objectionable (using Jesus’ name multiple times in a very blasphemous way). Thankfully, the innkeeper’s character was NOT to be admired, and he was portrayed as a huge loser…while Christ and Christian love were exalted. Still, I wish I hadn’t had to hear some of what he said (sang). The film also includes several references to prostitution, which I didn’t find too problematic but others might (i.e. families with younger children).
But lest I leave you on a dour note…