Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Les Miserables

Hantu Laut

Taking hiatus from politics, let's talk theaters and movies, or just one movie that everyone is raving about.

Les Miserables or "Les Miz" in short. 

I saw the stage rendition of Victor Hugo's epic novel at the Palace Theatre, London in 1985 after moving from its short stint at the Barbican Centre, where it was first launched. 

I have not seen the movie yet and I shall not indulge in the stage musical as the movie adaptation I presume would be similar to the stage performance and it would be ridiculous to make a comparison since I have not seen the movie.

Below are footages from the original London musical.

During my last visit to London in winter 2010, I noticed Les Miserables had moved to the Queen's Theatre.

Photo taken in Dec 2010

Stage musical is not for everyone, it can be monotonously boring if you are not into it. Other musicals I have seen in the eighties in London were ..... Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and in December 2010 Tchaikovsky's Operatic Musical "Swan Lake", which found me sleeping at the end of the show, age catching up, I suppose.

Below is Alice Poon's take on the movie. I agree with her that a movie is easier to digest than stage performance, particularly, if you are seated far from the stage.

That's why they have binoculars in theatres.

Les Miserables

Written by Alice Poon

For many people, the stage musical Les Miserables is one haunting piece of artistic sight and sound performance. For me, Victor Hugo’s passionate weaving of words into a heart-rending, 1,500-page novel about social injustices is what made an indelible mark on my heart and memory.

On my 2011 trip to Paris, I paid a visit to the novelist’s historic residence at No. 6, Place des Vosges (in the Le Marais district), where a great portion of the epic novel was given birth. I stood bewildered for a moment in that somber little room inside the mansion, wondering how the lifeless space, in which he would remain for hours on end hunched over the writing bureau churning out page after page, could squeeze such unparalleled creativity out of his head.
When I came out of the cinema with tear-filled eyes, I thought I had an idea as to why there are so many fans of the original stage play. Music simply has that special power to add another emotional dimension to an already tear-jerking tale. Though I’m familiar with the story, I had never had the pleasure of seeing the stage show. But probably exactly due to that reason, I was very pleasantly awed by Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of the ever-popular stage musical. Not being burdened by a preconception and certain expectations that those original musical fans may carry, I was able to enjoy this film musical as it presented itself, on its own merits, without feeling compelled to compare it with the stage version.
Having said that, I can still think of one particular weakness of a live show as compared with a movie, and that is that spectators are at such a great distance from the stage actors (unless you’re in the front rows) that they are naturally unable to see the latter’s subtle facial expressions. This stage inadequacy is conveniently turned into a plus in a movie adaptation with close-up shots, thus avoiding the acting being lost on the audience. Read more.

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