Saturday, July 13, 2013

Watching Les Miserables

Earlier in the year, I read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. It was LOVE. I knew I wanted to see several film adaptations. I've since watched four adaptations: the 1935 adaptation starring Fredric March (Jean Valjean), Charles Laughton (Inspector Javert), Cedric Hardwicke (Bishop Bienvenu), Rochelle Hudson (Cosette), Florence Eldridge (Fantine), and John Beal (Marius); the 1952 adaptation starring Michael Rennie (Jean Valjean), Robert Newton (Inspector Javert), Edmund Gwenn (Bishop Courbet), Debra Paget (Cosette), Sylvia Sidney (Fantine), Cameron Mitchell (Marius); the 1998 adaptation starring Liam Neeson (Jean Valjean), Geoffrey Rush (Inspector Javert), Peter Vaughan (Bishop), Claire Danes (Cosette), Uma Thurman (Fantine), Hans Matheson (Marius); the 2012 musical adaptation starring Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Inspector Javert), Colm Wilkinson (Bishop), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), and Eddie Redmayne (Marius).

Essentially, I wasn't satisfied with any of the adaptations I saw of this film. There were things I enjoyed about each of the adaptations. But there wasn't one definite version I'd recommend above the others. My least favorite was the musical; the musical was tedious and required you to suspend your disbelief for hours. (Who would really sing a song WHILE being chased by the police? Who would sing when trying to hide?) My favorite characters in the musical would be Eponine (Samantha Barks) and Fantine (Anne Hathaway). In some ways the musical was truer to the book than the others.
I am glad I watched it once, however. The two black and while film adaptations I saw were quite pleasant. The story is horribly condensed in both, and everything is so rushed, but, they were pleasant experiences. They don't do justice to the all. The 1998 film was very nice. I thought Geoffrey Rush was great as Inspector Javert, and Liam Neeson was believable as Jean Valjean. IF this adaptation had followed the book, been a bit longer perhaps, then it could have worked for me.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Louise said...

I hadn't realised that there were so many movie adaptations. My first experience with Les Mis was (somewhat improbably) only this year with the musical version. I loved it, despite Russell Crowe being in it. I saw it twice at the movies. As you say Fantine and Eponine were standouts. I had planned to read the book on a trip to France (I just got back a few days ago) but did too much holidaying, and didn't have enough time for reading. I will seek out other movie versions in the meantime til I get a chance to read it.

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

Cool to have watched so many version and read the book. I enjoyed the musicals but I like musicals and I didn't have anything to compare it to except for a stage show of the musical!