Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heaven Knows Anne's Miserable Now

In the above still are Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway singing to each other as David Frost and Richard Nixon in a Frost/Nixon sketch at the 2009 Academy Awards. It seems that Jackman and Hathaway will soon be singing together again but in a much less light-hearted manner in the long-awaited movie adaptation of Boubil and Schonberg's musical mega-hit Les Miserables, based on the classic French novel by Victor Hugo. It was this week confirmed that Hathaway has signed on to appear as down-on-her-luck factory worker Fantine alongside Jackman as one-time convict, now respectable factory owner and mayor Jean Valjean who takes pity of her and poignantly promises her on her deathbed to rescue her daughter from the cruel Thernadiers and care for her as though she was his own. He is thwarted at every turn, however, by obsessive police chief Javert who refuses to forget the past and accept that Valjean is a reformed character. Both Javert and Valjean also become embroiled in political instability in nineteenth-century Paris as a group of idealistic students mount barricades and fight for the emancipation of the Proletariat, all the while singing some lovely songs it has to be said.

After much speculation, Russell Crowe has been announced as Jackman's dogged pursuer. The only other confirmed cast member at this stage is Helena Bonham Carter as the thoroughly unpleasant Madame Thernadier. Bonham Carter's Alice in Wonderland co-star Hathaway will sing the iconic I Dreamed a Dream in the movie to be directed by The King Speech's Tom Hooper. Theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh will produce the film version of the musical that he first staged twenty-six years ago to a critical thrashing. It subsequently transpired that misery loves company and it has been running in London and in various locations around the globe ever since. The truth is, however, that other long-delayed movie versions of musical classics such as Evita and The Phantom of the Opera have underperformed significantly. Hooper, based on the evidence of The King's Speech, seems a good choice of director to me as any adaptation of Les Miserables will have to successfully intertwine the epic moments of public outrage and defiance with the more intimate moments of personal heartbreak and sacrifice. We can all hear the people sing and judge for ourselves when Les Miserables is released in cinemas on 7th December 2012.

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