Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Review of Les Misérables



My sisters and I just watched Les Misérables: 25th Anniversary Concert!! And now at last, I see what all the fuss is about! Well, almost...


Now don't be mad at us if you are a 10th Anniversary Concert fan. The 25th Anniversary Concert was the one our hands lay hold of first after hearing all the Les Misérables rantings and the excessive praise from the wonderful blogging world. We won't mention any names or *cough* blog parties, but this had a lot to do with it. :)




Les Misérables is the story of a man who can't escape from his past, a young couple who fear they may never be together, and a revolution that seems destined for failure. There's also the plight of a mother caring for her little daughter, as well as as an innkeeper seeking riches and a persistent policeman bent on what he sees as justice.


So, my thoughts? Here they are (and I start with the cons just so I can end everything on a good note... no pun intended... ).


Disliked:


- The immoral behavior and adult themes. Get ready, because this was really big. I realize they made the plot, but it made the whole thing very dark. I would not recommend showing the concert to children. The immoral behavior was not shown as being extremely bad, instead the audience was encouraged to feel pity on those who had done wrong (indicating Fantine here). Characters who perished during the course of the concert called upon the Lord God with their last breaths, but they spoke of the Savior as more of a benevolent father rather than their eternal judge. God can, and does, forgive sinners, but I felt the confessions sung were focused more on themselves and their sin than on the mercy of Christ. Yes, I acknowledge that our world is full of sin and immorality, but, as Christians, why must we dwell on it and repeatedly allow ourselves to take part in viewing it? So, again, the immorality and adult themes were a huge drawback. Considering all that was included in the concert, I could not recommend Les Misérables to anyone in good faith. "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication... who knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Romans 1: 29-32)


- The profanity. We watched the concert on my laptop which, I regret, does not have a parent guardian. Every time foul language crossed the screen, my sisters and I cringed and covered our ears. Not a very pleasant thing to do when we wanted to enjoy the concert. And there were very many cuss and curse words and inappropriate terms included in the songs. Very objectionable. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." (Ephesians 4:29)

- Some costumes. A few of the ladies could have worn higher necklines. Ugh. "That women adorn themselves in modest apparel." (1 Timothy 2:9)

- The ridiculous love triangle. I'm not a huge fan of romance anyway, but the whole Éponine loves Marius who loves Cosette who loves Marius and Éponine is left alone to die thing got to be a bit much. Sure, it's a musical and they have to drum the drama up and all, but I'd rather not see it all. And the kissing? I highly disapprove. "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." (1 Corinthians 7:1)


- The progression of the plot. It was hard to follow due to being so twisted and everything sung instead of spoken. Nothing against singing, of course, but it was difficult to understand everything that was going on. While watching it, my sisters and I had to keep checking the plot line on Wikipedia so we could get what had just happened.

- The number of deaths. Yes, it was during a war with battles and all that, but seriously! How many people can you kill off in one concert? We counted over five main characters, not including all the men at the barricade. In addition, there was Javert's suicide. Not commendable, and quite disgusting. And no, my sisters and I did NOT tear up at any death scenes. We're not that emotional. 

- The "expressionlessness" of Marius (Nick Jonas). And you would think a character like Marius would be bursting with emotions like... well, like Marianne Dashwood! But that's my opinion...

- The Thénardiers. The innkeeper and his wife were definitely not people you would root for. *shivers* Reminded me of Rigaud from Little Dorrit. But I guess this was a good dislike... if that's possible.


Liked:

- The MUSIC!! How can I express my delight? The music was phenomenal!! It really made the concert!!! My favorite songs included "I Dreamed A Dream," "Bring Him Home," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "One Day More," "Red and Black," etc. etc. Chills running up and down my arms!!!

- The incredible cast. I admit that there could be some better characters in the 10th, but many of the 25th were outstanding! 

- The incredible voices. I think Norm Lewis's (Javert) and Ramin Karimloo's (Enjolras) were my favorite voices. Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean was excellent, too, but I've heard almost everyone prefers Colm Wilkinson. As I have not yet seen him in concert, I will wait to pronounce my favorite Jean Valjean. There was a time (yes, I'm playing the music in my head) when I thought Lea Salonga's voice was too heavy for "I Dreamed A Dream," but she managed it very well, and I retracted the thought.


Gavroche. I just had to include him. Although left on the street alone, he did quite well fending for himself and helping Enjolras, Marius, and the students out as best he could. I was almost sorry when he died. 

Final Thoughts: 
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Did I enjoy Les Misérables? To a point. Music... good. Just about everything else... not good.
Would I watch Les Misérables again? Probably not. The dislikes way outweigh the likes.
Would I recommend it to my friends? Again, no. 

Please comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts on Les Misérables!


Please note: This review is not intended to bring offense to anyone. It is only my personal opinion and beliefs. 

6 comments:

  1. Ah, while I utterly understand your dislike of the immoral aspects of Les Mis, I'd like to make a few points, if that's okay. :)

    First, the musical is based on a book, (which I'm pretty sure you knew,) and so the writers of the actual musical had no influence on the plot. (Doesn't excuse the inappropriateness, it's just something to keep in mind.)

    Also, the original book, by Victor Hugo, was written to be intentionally dark. The society Hugo was depicting was falling apart at the seams, and unfortunately, cases like Fantine's were far from rare. He wrote it for many of the same reasons that Dickens wrote books like Oliver Twist. He wanted to draw attention to the plight of "The Miserable Ones" (Les Miserables, in French.)

    Now, as to the production of the 25th Concert, I will say that it is harder to follow, partially because it was not the ENTIRE musical--some of the shorter, connecting songs were cut. It was intended to be more of a concert, not a staged production of the musical, which involves sets and more acting and less standing by a mic and singing. :)

    (And personally, my favorite Valjean is Alfie Boe...but that's a rather unpopular opinion. ^.^)

    Another thing about the immorality--it did bother me how much they, in the musical, expanded and dwelt upon Fantine's *ahem* "actions." The fact that she became a prostitute was mentioned in the book, but was not elaborated upon, and dealt with in a rather delicate way.

    And yes, the view of God and Christ is a flawed one--but Hugo himself was very unorthodox in his beliefs, so we can't really expect any better. :) (Not making excuses, just a statement. ^.^)

    Well, there's my two cents. :) I hope you take it as it was written--in love, and not at ALL trying to undermine your convictions or beliefs! I really liked how you used Scripture to back up each of your points. :)

    (PS: I see you like the BBC Emma with Romola Garai...I LOVE that one. And Tangled. :D)

    In Him,
    ~Keaghan

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Keaghan! And don't worry! I took all of your points in love and agree with them! You just went deeper into some of them, which I appreciate. It looks as if I'll have to get the book out one of these days and read it to make a true comparison. :)
      God bless,
      Kiri Liz

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    2. I would really recommend reading the book. And also, it is, if I remember correctly, devoid of foul language, another issue I have with the musical. (If there is any, it must be mild and infrequent, because I honestly don't remember any!) Be sure to read a good "abridged" version. (The unabridged is about 1500 pages long because Hugo has a habit of going off on rabbit trails about the architecture of a building, the sewer systems in Paris, and the philosophical influences of the time.) The version I read was the "Enriched Classics" publication--it kept the story intact, but cut some of the excess stuff. It is a lengthy read, but worth it, especially if you like historical fiction in the same era as Dickens. :)

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  2. I am sorry you disliked it so much. (Personally, meaning nothing against you, I enjoy this story a lot. But again, this is personal and such. I did see one version of this that was horrible, and it still makes me cringe, so I can understand your cringing. It is a dark story, and unless you are prepared for that it would be disappointing. I was able to hear the story before I saw the play, which helped But, I did enjoy your view. It is nice to read other opinions, and honest ones. Too often people just say nice things so as not to offend anyone. But still, personally, I like the story. 8-), meant in all kindness.)

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  3. I enjoy the story of Les Miserables very much, but like others have said, I completely understand your concerns. Reading the book will definitely give you an idea on what the story should be like. It is definitely dark. The immorality is in the book, but it is mentioned in a subtle way, NO descriptive scenes or anything. Nick Jonas did an awful job of Marius. Ugh. He's just not Marius. Period.
    Just My Humble Opinion. :) Thank you for the review of this. I have not watched the entire concert, only parts of it.

    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

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  4. I personally love Les Miserables, but I have only seen part of the stage play/musical/opera. (You see I was in a Lit class at a homeschool co-op and my awesome teacher edited out all the *cough* nasty stuff. But the book is amazing! If you haven't read it, I would definitely encourage it. For me the best part about Les Mis is the story of redemption. Oh, and if you want to enjoy a shorter version than the huge book, I would recommend Focus on the Family's radio drama version. It is three hours long with no cussing or anything of that sort. My only problem with it was that they kinda left out most of Eponine's part, but since you didn't like her anyway that shouldn't bother you very much. In the radio drama version she almost turned into a comic character instead of a tragic one.

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