LES MISERABLES: HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST STORY: DVD
The background and history of Victor Hugo's classic novel as it is adapted from book to stage and to screen over the years, including the 2012 film with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. Interviews include many of the cast, and producer Sir Cameron Macintosh.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I was immediately attracted to the old illustrations of the key characters that are used at the beginning of this doco, the pen drawings instantly delivering characterisations that are totally different to our modern sense of them. Notably, they are all somewhat older than adaptations show them. These are the most revealing images of the doco.
Although impressive, the much-flaunted fact that this is the longest running musical in the world seems to be a boast, instead of an acclamation of the reasons for that. To be fair, director Tom Hooper (of the 2012 film musical) does articulate why in a brief grab: the discovery of virtue - by Valjean - is the central moral driver.
The challenge for a doco that sets out to celebrate success is that it has set its agenda; there is nothing to deflect the filmmakers from their chosen message. It's very much like the EPK of a movie, putting its best foot forward. But let me not be too mean, this is informative work and revealing about both Victor Hugo and his era, and the context that provides. That is important for any serious understanding of both what it was that Hugo was trying to say (about social justice) and how we interpret it today, and though the years.
The book was first adapted for the stage, before it was adapted for the screen. A concept album led the way to the stage musical. The secret ingredient for the success of that was, of course, the music and lyrics, which made the heavy drama of 19th century French socio-political drama accessible; that was also the first thing that critics used to bash the work over the head. But 60 million people can't be wrong - or even if they are, they can't be shut up.
Macintosh has many appearances in this doco, and he deserves them all, for having championed the work, and for making sure its genuine message was never dulled. Les Miserables is a title destined to put audiences off: so why doesn't it?
Published April 25, 2013
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LES MISERABLES: HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST STORY: DVD (G)
DIRECTOR: Alan Byron
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daniel Howard, Sharaz Ali
EDITOR: John Hammond
PRODUCTION DESIGN: .
RUNNING TIME: 54 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9, DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: .
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Ent
DVD RELEASE: April 30, 2013