Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Les Misérables Flash Mob

I'm pretty sure my life would be complete if I were to witness something of this magnitude.

I mean, WHAT EVEN.

(Watch it and see if you don't get chills. Because you will.)



Is this not the BEST EVER?? 

Do you like to watch flash mobs? Have you ever (*gasp*) witnessed a flash mob? Do tell! 



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Enjolras vs. Marius

90% or more of the fandom stands behind Enjolras as one of the, let's say, top five best characters of the story, and maybe 25% of the fandom actually cares for Marius.

But I have substantial(by what I mean-- produced from the recesses of my cranium) evidence that they are in fact both awesome, on a fairly equal level.

(If you want a post defending poor Marius, I recommend reading this.)

Fundamentally, Marius and Enjolras share a similar character. Both have something they are extremely passionate for and forget other important details of their lives amidst their love for this object. Enjolras is burdened with a heavy fascination for France, her freedom, prosperity, and political wellbeing. Marius is consumed with romantic sentiments for Cosette.

Of course Enjolras is a political activist while Marius is a lovestruck romantic, but we'll keep the "something they're passionate for" comparison for the purposes of this post.

The thing about Enjolras--and let me say this in as polite and respectful manner as possible--, is that he doesn't live long enough to display too many irritating elements of his character. Furthermore, he's never placed in a position to be very annoying to the reader. He's flatter as a character than Marius is, due to the unvaried settings of his role in the story.



On the other hand, Marius, on account of his extended lifetime and the circumstances Hugo's pen placed him in, lands in a few too many opportunities for facepalming. I don't need to remind you of his repulsive treatment towards Valjean after his marriage. I bet he could win the world's worst son-in-law award. ;)

Where Enjolras has just a few awesome qualities, Marius has pages of flaws and a handful of solid virtues.

He did save all the barricade soldiers at once, go to lengths trying to defend Valjean from Thenardier's clutches, give repaying Thenardier's "kindness" during the Battle of Waterloo a high priority, and try to reunite himself with his grandfather.

He's kind, earnest, and absolutely devoted to whatever he's working on at the moment, whether that be pursuing Cosette, comforting wounded Eponine, or protecting his brother barricade boys.

Marius lives in a world of his imaginings, but Enjolras is in a foreign realm of perfection. The latter is passionate and passes quickly while the former can and should stick with the reader for his determination and amiability, once you wait for him to get himself together. ;)

Conclusion: They're both great characters. Marius could benefit from having his ears boxed and Enjolras should have condescended from his political dreams to the realities of friendships and individuals, but we can love both of them for who are they are. :D

Or at least I can, and maybe I've convinced you to as well.

Do you have a preference for one over the other? 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Review of Focus on the Family's Audio Dramatized Les Misérables

9 years ago, before, the 2012 movie was released, before I'd even heard of Les Misérables, and before the Broadway musical had hit its 25th anniversary, Focus on the Family released an audio dramatization based of Hugo's Les Misérables.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to listen to it. I'd like to review it, but since I'm not very good at neat, paragraphed reviews, I will present my impressions in two "pros" and "cons" columns.


Cons~ 

1. They changed Fauchelvent's name. Whhaat? I seriously have no idea why. I mean, the substitute, "Lamont", is fun as well, but there was no clear reason to change a perfectly good name.

The switch seemed to indicate that they were not targeting people who'd actually read the book. Not a good choice. xD

2. They abridged Fantine's story. It was supposed to be appropriate for the older elementary age, so I can see why they'd want to leave out some details of her background, but the book includes a really interesting sequence of her selling her furniture, her incisors, and her hair, which was sadly condensed for the dramatization.

3. The script writer(s) added religious themes that weren't in the original book.

The book's themes lend themselves well to the doctrines of a variety of religions. But the writers, who were coming from a Protestant worldview, tried to paste their "salvation through faith" references into the dialogue. As a Protestant, I agreed with it all and almost liked it, but was also annoyed how they intruded on Hugo's intention.

And if they'd really wanted to get out the gospel message, there would've been more mention of salvation through Christ, but then that would've made me even more mad since, in the book, I don't think the characters mentioned Jesus.

4. They got Marius and Cosette's romance all wrong. ("Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?")

5. Enjolras's characterization was squeezed into the ten(or less) minutes of lines he got.

me: not impressed 


6. They portrayed Marius as a much more likable person than he was in...(wait for it...)....the book. How many times have I said "the book"?


Pros~ 

1. Marius sounded like Marius. :D Wow, aren't you glad I've got my priorities straight?

2. The ending was very emotionally powerful. Even beyond my expectations for a Les Mis dramatization. I experienced similar emotional aftereffects to what the book gave me.

3. It didn't make any seriously major changes to the story.

4. No tangents! Whoop whoop!!

5. The background music was good.

6. It was entertaining.

~~~

My three word analysis? Flawed but enjoyable.

Recommendation: For people who are 1). big Les Mis geeks, 2). too busy to read the book, 3). wanting to skip the inappropriate content of the play, 4). not purists.

If you are any of those people, I'd say go for it!  Here's the link to buy it: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio-theatre/les-mis.aspx

Or get it from your library system like I did.

Thanks for reading!!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Les Mis on Pinterest

Les Mis people put the best things on Pinterest. I went through a couple-week period wherein I could spend an hour scrolling through these pins.

Of course, unfortunately even some Les Mis fans seem incapable of refraining from language, which makes browsing Les Mis material a little less fun...

 SO, I've collaborated the best of Les Misérables on Pinterest for you:



 Some of them are humorous and poke fun at the habits of the musical-lovers:


TRUTH


Some use Les Mis lines to express feelings from "normal life".



Then you have the Les Mis pick-up lines. 

Seriously, if anyone ever uses one of these on me... instant marriage. ;) 

Some are really out there. 

this took me waaay to long

Some are really sad, like this "I Dreamed a Dream" parody: 

:( 


Others are plain awesome. 


And then you have the people who are serious enough to read the book, but awesome enough to appreciate how funny it can be. :) 


best chapter title ever

Is this really a shirt? 

more truth! 

What are some of your favorite Les Mis jokes? 



Monday, July 18, 2016

My Very Long 2012 Les Mis Casting Analysis

Bonjour, readers!

I thought it'd be fun to talk a little about the casting choices from the 2012 Les Misérables movie. I may do this for other movie versions as well, but for now the 2012 is the only one I've finished.

So let's proceed, shall we? ;)

*Warning: overused caps lock and italics to follow*




Jean Valjean- Hugh Jackman

"Suddenly I see what I could not see. Something suddenly has begun." 

Now, I know that some people don't love his singing. Although I'm by no means an expert on singing(haha), my Dad and I both enjoyed his.



My only criticism is that he let the singing fall flat in a couple places. For example, most Valjeans sing-

My soul belongs to God, (*increase in volume*)I know 

Hugh Jackman sang it this way--

My soul belongs to God, (*whispers*) I know 

He did that in a couple other places as well, so I'll leave it up to you to decide if he was unnecessarily mellowing the melody, or trying to sound more conversational with himself(wow, that sentence made a whole lot of sense ;) ).


Javert- Russell Crowe

"Mine is the way of the Lord. Those who follow the path of the righteous will have their reward." 

Poor Russell Crowe. (and poor Nick Jonas while we're at it)

Some people don't like Hugh Jackman's singing, and others laugh at the way Eddie Redmayne's head trembles on high notes, but there is almost unanimous agreement that Russell Crowe sings very poorly.



I'm not even sure that I'd say he really understood book-Javert's character. I'll talk about him another day, but I'd point to Norm Lewis as an actor who better perceived Hugo's Javert.

I imagined Javert with a sharp face and bark-like voice, neither of which were accomplished in Russell Crowe. This Javert always seemed unsure of himself, a part of his book-character to be sure, but he concealed it better in the book.

Again, Norm Lewis is better. :D


The Bishop- Colm Wilkinson

"But remember this my brother: see in this some higher plan. God has raised you out of darkness to become an honest man."

YES YES YES.

For those who didn't know, Colm Wilkinson was the original Jean Valjean on Broadway.

*pause for dramatic effect*

So clearly, there's no way "they" could have gone wrong with casting him as the Bishop.


Fantine- Anne Hathaway 

"Now life has killed the dream...I dreamed."

Gahhh, this casting choice has my wholehearted approval.



Not only is her acting spot-on, but she sings like Fantine should sing. My first exposure to I Dreamed a Dream, and the musical as a whole, actually, was The Complete Symphonic Recording from 1988. Fantine sings I Dreamed a Dream like... a confident opera singer, evoking all the wrong images. The Fantine she portrayed on that album is a completely different Fantine than the timid woman Victor Hugo wrote.

All that to say-- I love Anne Hathaway for finding the right "Fantine-voice", especially in I Dreamed a Dream.

And fun fact, provided by my friend Ilse, she lost twenty-five pounds for the role.

Bravo, Anne Hathaway. :D


Young Cosette- Isabelle Allen

"I know a place where no one's lost. I know a place where no one cries. Crying at all is not allowed. Not in my castle on a cloud.

Dawwwww, she is SO CUTE.


                                       
                                     awww





AWWW



(Thank you, Pinterest)

She's also a good singer and good actor, and yes, much approval.

Older Cosette- Amanda Seyfried

"Does he know I'm alive; do I know if he's real? Does he see what I see; does he feel what I feel?"

Not my favorite, to be honest. I don't like the way her voice shakes at the end of a phrase or that she's far too old to play Cosette. Seriously, Cosette was like my age.

Wouldn't it be awesome if they made a movie where Cosette and Eponine were actually teens?

Mr. Thénardier- Sacha Baron Cohen

"Have we done for your child what is best? Shared our bread, shared each bone, treated her like she's one of our own!

Hey look, it's the Station Inspector! (Watch Hugo if you're confused) He's funny and all, but like Russell Crowe, I'm not sure he grasped the book-Mr. Thenardier's personality. Or maybe the way it's scripted is at fault.

In the book, the family dynamic was more like "Mistress of the House".  Mrs. Thénardier ran the show for the first half of the story. Here, Sacha Baron Cohen seems a little too "together" to play Mr. Thénardier accurately.




Mrs. Thénardier- Helena Bonham-Carter
"Medicines are expensive, Monsieur! Not that we begrudged a sou: it's not more than we Christians must do!"

Not much too say. It was exciting to see a big-name actor(Harry Potter, Cinderella), but her performance was neither stunning nor disappointing to me. 
But, while I'm on the Thénardiers, let's talk about...


Eponine Thénardier- Samantha Barks 
"I love him. If only on my own."

Ahh, Samatha Barks. She's talented, pretty, and the only cast member who played the same role in the 25th Anniversary edition. 



I only have two complaints about her being chosen:

1). Her voice is too high.

I'm not even sure what they could've done about it, but Victor Hugo explicitly describes her voice as such:

"It was a hollow, cracked, smothered, rasping voice, the voice of an old man, roughened by brandy and liquor." 

Obviously it would've ruined all the songs she was in if she actually sounded like that, but I still think they could've chosen someone with a deeper voice. 

At least hers was better than the Eponine from the 1988 recording. That Eponine sounds like a 6 year old. 

2). She's too old.

She was about twenty-one when it was released, unlike the book-Eponine who was closer to my age.

Otherwise I really liked her performance.

Marius- Eddie Redmayne

"Oh, my friends my friends, don't ask me what you're sacrifice was for!"


Yeah, so. I don't really know about him. At first, when I'd just seen pictures, I thought he was a good idea. But when I saw the movie, I realized he just wasn't quite right. I can't put it into words and he's really not that bad... 
His singing is okay and all... 
It's silly, but I think the biggest problem is the way his head quivers on high notes, because it distracts me. 

Maybe I should watch it again and re-assess. :)

Enjolras- Aaron Tveit

"The colors of the world are changing day by day!"

I'm probably the only Les Mis fan in the world who isn't totally obsessed with Enjolras. He's awesome! He's great! But I don't get the obsession included in so many peoples' Les Mis fangirling. :)

so intense :)
As for the casting, sure! Aaron Tveit did great, but he just didn't strike me as all that exciting. Sorry.

(Again, I need to re-watch it)

Gavroche- Daniel Huttlestone

"So never kick a dog because he's just a pup, we'll follow twenty armies and we won't give up, so you better run for cover when the pup grows up!"



YASS. He is so cute! You know what, we need more pictures: 




(Again, thank you to Pinterest!)





The Barricade Boys

I don't have an opinion really on any of the actors for the barricade boys. My favorite is Combeferre, played by Fra Free.



Other Special Appearances- 

Katie Hall I didn't even pick up on this one till I was doing the "research" for this post, but apparently one of the women who sings in "Turning"(Did you see them going off to fight?) is Katie Hall, who played Cosette in the 25 Anniversary Edition. How cool is that!

The soldier- *ahem* He actually doesn't have a name, but he's one of the soldiers fighting the barricade boys and he's played by Hadley Fraser, who was Grantaire in the 25th Anniversary. According to the internet at least. ;)


So there you go!

Agree/disagree? Who is your favorite actor in Les Misérables?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

One Day More- Google Translate Video

I don't know about you, but I find Les Mis humor hilarious. On Pinterest, for example, Les Mis fans are so clever.
Here's an example of Les Mis humor that I particularly enjoy:) Hopefully you find it as funny as I do!



Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Les Misérables Book Review


To kick things off, here's the review of Les Mis I wrote the morning after finishing it. It's not very well-written or coherent(let's blame it on the brick-induced lack of sleep), but it seems an appropriate way to begin my posts here!

~~~
Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism, and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat--by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place--and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert...A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, Les Misérables is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830. (-from the back cover on the Norman Denny translation)

I finished Les Miserables!!!! It took me 79 days, but it's done now. 


You'd have no idea how many times I fell asleep reading it. Sometimes in the morning my mom would walk into my room to wake me up, and find me slumped over that book(I call it "that book", because "Les Misérables" is getting tiresome to type). I was at page 900-something a few days ago, and planning to finish it some time before December ended, but then I thought, "You know what, I'm just going to finish this now," so I spent, like, 5 hours each day, pushing through it.  I even stayed up till 2:30 one night(impossible without black tea and my Pirates of the Caribbean Pandora station). Wow.

The book stretched for quite some length, 1,222 pages to be exact, and effectually this review will be 1,222 words. Ready?

Oh, and one note before things get started, spoilers will mainly be marked, so feel free to read even if you haven't tried the book yet!

~~~

To start, I'd like to address some the common concerns one hears for Les Miserables.

Firstly, you've probably heard someone complain about the length. And, that someone is right to do so. Admittedly, Les Miserables is a thick novel. In fact, it's over four times longer than Pride and Prejudice.

In a way, the length can be attributed to Hugo's tangents, which, I must write, are inexcusable. While visiting the library Thursday, I found a copy translated by Norman Denny(mine was by Charles Wilbour). Being in a strong Les Mis-craze, I read the introduction. I'll quote it here, as many of his points parallel mine.


But some of the digressions, or interpolations, are still indefensible, the most flagrant being the account of the Battle of Waterloo, which occupies the third book of Part Two. It is sub-divided into nineteen chapters filling sixty-nine pages of the closely printed French text, and only the last chapter, seven pages long, has any real baring on Hugo's story...tremendous though it[Hugo's account of Waterloo] was, [it]had no more to do with the story of Les Miserables than any other major historical event that had occurred during the century. -Norman Denny

  But, without the longer tangents, the work would still carry on for 1,000+ pg., which leaves the rest to be attributed to the pure scope of the narrative(also, perhaps, general wordiness on his part). Hugo skillfully worked multiple characters' stories together, introducing new plot twists every other page(yeah, that was an exaggeration).

So, was it too long? Yes.

Should it have been pages, and pages, and pages shorter? No.


Another popular concern(quite possibly the most popular) relates that the story is too miserable,too sad, and too many characters die. Also, tied into that, are the disturbing morals of some of the main characters.

Yes, the story is miserable, but please don't forget: it is named Les Misérables(poor wretches). Obviously, Hugo didn't intend to write a happy novel, bursting with smiles, or ending with a contented-sigh-worthy conclusion. Quite the contrary; to preface one 18 pg. digression over French slang, he writes--
When thirty four years ago the narrator of this grave and gloomy storyintroduced into a work written with the same aim as the present, a robber talking argot, there was amazement and clamour. 
However, I will concur that certain sad aspects could've been avoided.

*Spoilers*


For example, I believe Hugo should have killed off the barricade boys. Even Enjolras. He spared Marius, for which I am ever so grateful, but more than one survivor of that failed 2nd French revolution would've been going to far.


Character deaths which I didn't find necessary?

1. Madame Thénardier

2. Jean Valjean

3. Gavroche

And that's only three!

Eponine should have died because she never would've been happy without Marius,

Fantine should have died because she never would've been happy without Cosette, and

the Bishop should have died because he was old and already happy.

*End of Spoilers*

Don't misinterpret this, the character deaths hurt me just as badly as they did any other Les Mis fan, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have done the same if I were Les Miserables's author. *ducks*

Lastly, readers(myself included) dislike Hugo's disregard for the "show me, don't tell me" skill. I have nothing to refute this. That, and the tangents were his largest flaws.

Now that I've scratched the surface of those ideas, I can move to praise for Les Mis.

The Characters(awesome people, by the way)

Jean Valjean-


 He's been promoted to one of my top favorite characters, like, ever. Just wow.

*Spoilers* 

I cried when he died. It wasn't faaaaaaair!



Cosette uttered a piercing cry:
"Father! my father! you shall live. You are going to live. I will have you live, do you hear!"
Jean Valjean raised his head towards her with adoration.
"Oh yes, forbid me to die. Who knows I shall obey perhaps. I was just dying when you came." 

*End of Spoilers*

Fantine- I do wish he'd spent just a wee bit more time on her. She's well-developed, anyways.

Hugo liked to make assertions about his characters instead of allowing the readers to think as they'd like, and he continued this practice for Fantine, but as far as my memory serves, he never went out and said, "Fantine did all of this for Cosette, disregarding her own personal needs." The preceding sentence is a conclusion I drew after reading her narrative, and it stuck better than if he had flat out told me.

There's one example of a successful "show me, don't tell me" implementation.

Cosette-

Mehhhh. It's not that I hated her or anything, but, I wish she had done something a little more than fall in love and marry Marius("marry Marius" is fun to say, isn't it?).

The Bishop-

Um, did I need to read his 50 page biography?


No, no, he was my favorite at first, I just got tired of his life after a while. (Wow, that sounds rude.)

Eponine-

Eeeep! Second favorite character.



*cries*


Just, I can't even. *Spoilers* Her death was the first passage in literature to EVER make me cry. Here,

"And by the way, Monsieur Marius, I believe that I was a little bit in love with you.” ASDFGHJKL 

*End of Spoilers*


Marius-


Contrary to the opinions of many fans, I appreciated Marius. I even liked him. But, at the same time, he made me SO MAD. *Spoilers* When he edged Jean Valjean out of his daily visits to Cosette and tried to trick Cosette into forgetting about him. When he ignored Eponine. Grrrrrrrrr. *End of Spoilers*


Enjolras-


I can't decided whom I liked better between the two, but I completely respect the opinion of anyone who likes Enjolras better. He was pretty awesome.

Gavroche-

He was sinful, too. But, his carefree, selfless disposition really touched me.

Other Parts I Liked/Loved

When Jean Valjean dragged Marius through the sewers. The guy who had fallen in love with Jean Valjean's favorite person in the world, daily visited Valjean's garden without his permission, AND Jean Valjean still exerted everything he could towards the fragment of hope that Marius would survive. That, readers, is why Jean Valjean is my favorite.

The scene where Marius watches the confrontation between Thénardier and Jean Valjean. That had to be one of the most well-constructed pieces of literature I've ever encountered. I mean, look at the dilemma Marius was in! 

This is random, but I laughed a little too hard when Cosette first visits Marius after his illness and Hugo writes:

She appeared on the threshold; it seemed as if she were in a cloud. 


Just at that instant the grandfather was about to blow his nose; he stopped short, holding his nose in his handkerchief, and looking at Cosette above it...
What? xD 

Conclusion

Would I recommend Les Misérables? Most certainly. It's one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read, and if one considers Lord of the Rings as three separate books, then it's my favorite. Les Misérables trumps any of the individual Lord of the Rings installments. (But, if you're like me, and you see them as one whole book, then LotR is still my favorite.) :)


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Character: Jean Valjean


~~~

Thank you for reading!! If you've gotten thus far, I'm impressed. Please tell me your thoughts!

Agree/disagree? Are you a Marius/Cosette or Marius/Eponine shipper?

Note: All quotes, unless otherwise marked, come from Charles Wilbour's translation.