Seeing Les Misérables

Les MisérablesThis afternoon, Tracey and I went to see Les Misérables. I went knowing full well that it was a musical, because, you know, I love my wife.

Before I get started, I’d like to point two things you may or may not know about me:
1) I have an attention span that makes me envy a goldfish’s.
2) I do not hear lyrics in songs unless I focus intently – otherwise, it’s a wash of sound.

We saw the 3:50 showing at the Empire 7 at the World Exchange plaza, and I estimated about 120 people were in the theatre. Two people up and left about fifteen minutes in. Twelve others went to the washroom in the course of the movie.

As a rule, I’m not a big fan of musicals – with a few exceptions: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Once more, with feeling, Dr Horrible’s Sing-along-blog, and lastly Repo! The Genetic Opera.

What I didn’t know that the whole fricking movie is singing. All one hundred and fifty-eight bladder-busting minutes of it.

When you mix the two items I mentioned above, it’s just too exhausting to try to follow the lyrics when the whole movie is sung. Essentially, what I saw was a long silent movie with musical accompaniment.

As a movie, I found Les Misérables was a dull movie, filled with long closeups of people singing – and was visually uninteresting. Couldn’t the camera look at *anything else* while the actors were singing?

I get it’s a big deal that the actors sang all their parts live. That’s wonderful for them, but was boring for me to watch – to the point where I was spending most of my time looking at the audience and how they reacted to the seemingly endless vibrato. The lyrics of the songs didn’t always work musically, which stood out remarkably to me and distracted me looking at other things.

From my point of view, Les Misérables shouldn’t be a movie – it works spectacularly as a theatre piece or as the original book (which I think I read in school), but as a movie, it’s plain the wrong use of the medium.  Turns out that Orson Welles made a version for the Mercury Theatre on the Air in 1937, which I’m currently downloading from archive.org now to listen to later. I’m a big fan of Welles’ War of the Worlds, so I’ll give this one a shot.

Of course, at the time of writing the movie’s made over one hundred and fifteen million dollars, so obviously I’m in the minority.

My treatment for seeing this movie is Aliens (Special Edition) and Alien VS Predator 2. I may need followup doses of Pulp Fiction, Predator and a Die Hard movie to fully recover. We’ll see.

3 thoughts on “Seeing Les Misérables”

  1. Haven’t seen it yet although I must admit to wanting to see this — largely because of the casting. One of the area I know we are different is how we hear music as we’ve discussed this before. I’m surprised you went to see this though as you’re not one who I would have thought would go see this! Kudos for at least trying :) I’ll see it and I’ll share my (ours actually as I will see this with Gail) point of view.

  2. I’m tempted to listen to the soundtrack alone and see how it works for me. Tracey’s point of view was different from mine, of course. Maybe she’ll post something.

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