Dear Lovers of Les Misérables music,
One Day More! The wait for our dear LesMis (2012) is almost over! To help me relax and get this article started, I looped songs from the original French concept album and listening to classics like À la volonté du peuple (aka Do You Hear the People Sing?) and J’aivais Rêvé d’Une Autre Vie (aka I Dreamed a Dream)) [HT Aulina for introducing me to the French originals.]
1) Yes, LIVE Singing!
What does LIVE Singing really mean? The actors & actresses you see on screen, their images and singing would have been recorded LIVE together. So no faking or lip syncing at all! The Live Singing is going to be awesome!
If you haven’t seen the Les Misérables Singing Live Featurette yet, it is totally worth a watch!
Now, the Les Mis promotional machine would want you to believe the film’s LIVE Singing is “ground breaking” and “never been done before” without qualification. The fact is filmmakers in the past have done it. Here is Candice Bergen singing in a comedic scene with Burt Reynolds in Starting Over. Don’t tell me Candice actually recorded this in studio first and then managed to lip sync to the bad comedic singing! :)
I guess I will be happier if the promotional hype is toned down a little.
OK, Russell is in a rock band but this is Les Mis! And we are talking about the critical role of Javert! So I had to look for some positive reassurance. And I found Russell and Hugh Jackman singing in this Les Misérables clip. Unfortunately, the clip wasn’t quite the “high notes” I had hoped for. But as luck would have it, I ended up discovering & watching the YouTube clip of Russell and Hugh singing “The Confrontation” at a private Indoor Garden Party at Joe’s Pub NYC.
Sure, the sound quality in the clip and setup was no where near great but it strangely eased my worry a bit more. Not completely, but a little more. I see/hear something in the pub performance, and I trust Russell to be a perfectionist that he would have practiced a ton and done takes and takes and takes … until he and director Tom Hooper think he got things right. Following the “trust, but verify” advice: I trust Russell can deliver but I am eagerly waiting to watch the film to tell decide for myself!
3) Hugh Jackman can sing!!!
If there is an absolute “sure win” performance in Les Mis, it the awesome Tony-award-winning Broadway star Hugh (also known for being Wolverine) ! His singing of “Who Am I” is wonderful and interesting. I will have a “risky” technical discussion later.
Now, is there anything the awesome Tony-award-winning Broadway star Hugh (also known for being Wolverine) can’t do?! Well, apparently he can make pancake too! Correction: not just pancake but Crêpe according to Anne on Letterman promoting the film!
Anne‘s increasingly skillful acting, her 25 lb weight loss (absolutely crazy in creating the desired look), and her singing combine together will, I believe, create a transcending experience that we have NEVER experience in a LIVE singing musical film EVER.
I have to admit I used to quite like Les Misérables (1998 film) starring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, and Claire Danes. But when I recently borrowed the 1998 film from the library to watch again for my LesMis series research, I was only able to watch a few segments. I could not bare to watch it from beginning to end. As a drama with no singing, I found the film dry and a bit too much “Reason Before Passion“. LesMis needs the LIVE singing like we need oxygen, a LIVE singing film version of LesMis can, I hope, achieve “Reason alongside Passion“!
5) Samantha Barks can sing!!!
In case you don’t know already, Samantha actually “starred as Éponine in the London production of Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre” for a year from 2010-2011. Have a watch of her spectacular “On My Own” at the 25th anniversary performance of Les Miserables. Based on the trailers and the behind the scenes clips, I totally think Samantha will shine like a bright star in LesMis (2012)!
It should be a ton of fun to watch Helena and Sacha (you may know him as the awesome Borat). Because of the types of songs the two roles will perform, I suspect the two talents can easily handle the singing. I was able to find Sacha singing in Sweeney Todd. Have a watch.
“He’s not what I expected. I didn’t look at those characters and think, This will be the sweetest guy in the world. He’s incredibly nice. A real gentleman, kind of elegant. I was impressed with him. He’s kind of today’s equivalent of Peter Sellers.”
8) A risky technical discussion re singing
I am not a musician nor trained in music in anyway. So to do the research for this article, I asked my music advisor (a trained soprano) for help. She made the point that words have to be articulated and sung loud and clear. Now, I love Samantha‘s “On My Own” at the 25th anniversary performance, but that is not good enough for my “ideal” LesMis (2012) performance. Why? Here comes my risky take. I think Samantha sang “On My Own” in a much too articulated and loud/clear manner! My preferred performance is one that somewhat goes against the years of training professional singers have learned by heart. With sensitive mic near by shooting the scene and the singing, the performer can be free to let the sung words play a subservient role to the core emotion need to be expressed at that moment. Think about what I just wrote and watch “On My Own” again. Am I way off base?
9) Concluding Thoughts
I think LesMis (2012) should do very well with lovers of LesMis the musical and lovers of musicals in general. But for the film to be a success in the box office for the studios to try something like this again with other musicals (which I hope they do), LesMis will have to be successful with the general audiences.
3) TIME Magazine, “They Dreamed a Dream: Les Misérables Is a Whole New Kind of Movie Musical”
Note: This article will be cross-posted by me at examiner.