Saturday, January 05, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies

It was fairly inevitable.  We went to see Les Miz tonight.  Pretty much I think if you work in theatre you have to go - so we went.

I hadn't read much prerelease press about the film.  I'd heard that they didn't loop the vocals, and I'd heard that Russel Crowe was an unfortunate casting decision - and that it was a long film.

On those three items; I didn't think the movie was overly long.  I think audiences have become accustomed to 90 minute screening times and I think that is pretty unfortunate.  Yes, this was a long film, but I never really found myself thinking "gee, this is long."  I don't think I would have noticed that the vocals weren't looped.  In thinking about it I think that particular nuance did more for the actors performances than it did for the vocals.  I would think it let themselves really get in the moment in a way they wouldn't have had they pre-recorded the vocals.

Crowe, he is not as strong a singer as some of the others in the cast.  His voice does sound shallower in his body if that makes any sense.  With him I felt he was trying harder than his castmates.  On the flipside he gives a great performance.  The acting part is spot on.

For reasons I don't understand I kept thinking about Johnathan Frakes when I saw Crowe.  I wonder if he can sing.

Otherwise... I think this story loses something going from a theatrical piece to a movie.  There's a dimension to the stagecraft that reinforces the piece that aren't offset by the freedom to shift location and time realistically.  I swear I found myself missing the lighting.  I even found myself thinking about a particular stage trick from the tour.  When he goes off the bridge.  In the movie he goes off a bridge.  On stage, they played the bridge at stage level and obscured the floor with fog.  When he falls he dropped into a trap that had previously been hidden and the bridge simultaneously flew out at high speed simulating a fall.  I hadn't thought of it before, but it is possible that was a formidable moment in shaping my career.

There's also something in the music and the sound.  The scale is just different in film.  Interestingly it felt like they played the whole thing much smaller in the movie than it felt on stage.  That's counter-intuitive, but I guess it makes sense.  If you can get right up in someone's face, why wouldn't you?  But it does change the nature of the piece.

I enjoyed the film well enough.  It is a good piece of film making and the music is everything it has always been.  Certainly it's worth a trip to the theatre.

As an aside, one of my strongest reactions to the movie was sadness.  It really drove home that I never managed to get to New York to see my sister do Eponine.  I bet she was great.

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