Sunday, January 20, 2013

Singing actors vs. acting singers

Today's Sunday moodling comes to you courtesy Les Miserables, the movie. It came out on Christmas Day, and between Boxing Day and the New Year, I saw it twice, which is an unusual thing -- there aren't too many movies I've seen twice in theatre. I'm too much of a cheapskate to do that very often.

But the cinematography and acting in this one deserved a second viewing. It's a beautiful flick, a bit dizzying at times (I would know), and overall, an amazing show. Having seen the musical onstage, I would warn musical fans that this is a completely different sort of experience. The difference between having singers act on stage, and having actors sing under a camera's watchful eye means that there are moments where the music suffers a little in the movie, just as the acting suffers in some musicals.

Even so, I loved both experiences of Les Miserables, and highly recommend the movie. I can't think of a more beautiful story of struggle and redemption that is so well put together. Even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I'll be honest, though -- there will never be another Jean Valjean like Colm Wilkinson, and Russell Crowe seemed to be concentrating too hard on his words or his notes to pull off a convincing Javert, but Anne Hathaway as Fantine more than made up for everything, in my humble opinion. Of course, better than both the musical and the movie is Victor Hugo's classic story, which I read just before I saw the musical for the first time in 1992. The book, I recommend most of all. It can be tough slugging in the really detailed parts, but it's so worth it!

Hugh Jackman acted the part of Jean Valjean really well, but he just doesn't have the voice (though he's an extremely handsome man!), so for today's Sunday video, here's the way Jean Valjean's prayer, Bring Him Home, should be sung. I love how Jean Valjean talks to God as he would to a friend -- that's real prayer. This version of the song is performed by the aforementioned Colm, who turns out to be my best friend's second cousin's husband's uncle (figure that one out!) and the true master of the part. (He also does a masterful job of playing Bishop Myriel in the movie.) Don't let the silly video image put you off... Enjoy!

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