Fangirls, Beware

The musical is a genre lately saved for pre to late-pubescent teenage girls and their one token gay friend. Moulin Rouge (shudder), Chicago, Hairspray, et cetera. Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd made an honest attempt at “dirtying” up the modern mainstream movie musical, but it too

fell victim to the veritable bacterial disease we call “fangirls”. Unfortunately for Mr. Burton, they follow Mr. Depp around like stray dogs follow ginger orphans. And regardless of how hard either one may try, Tim will eventually be forced to put Johnny in white face-paint, and the droves of ill-cultured (in my mind, at least) girls will continue to write bad fan-fiction.

…I lost my train of thought.Oh, right.

I doubt that if any of these… fans… were to see the original 1979 production of Sweeney, that they would be anywhere near as enthusiastic. How often do I hear them feign their best Bonham Carter Cockney in an attempt to prove that they know every word to “Worst Pies in London”? I’ll tell you how often. Very. Very often.

Venting aside, I find that in an attempt to please the “target demographic”, excellent source material is never quite given the respect it deserves (hence, Sweeney Todd). Now, I speak strictly of the movie-musical of the past decade. There was once a time when the genre flourished. Hell, there was once a time when a musical could win Best Picture (My Fair Lady, anyone?). Thank god we had a triumph like Moulin Rouge to bring the musical back to its former place of glory.

GOD I love sarcasm.

And now I come to the purpose of this post: the trailer for the new Les Misérables film was just released. And hot damn am I excited.

I have a self-professed love for Les Misérables, .and a self-professed hatred of the popular abbreviation, Les Miz. Amid the complexities of the orchestral score, it maintains a vocal simplicity. It is energetic, moving, and has a sort of childlike sensibility at times. It seldom does more than it needs to. It tells a story.

I feel that many productions overdo the piece. Any simplicity is lost in needless spectacle. I even feel as though the original production did not give the score the respect it deserves; and, quite frankly, I think it was too silly for its own good.  The closest any production has come, I feel, is the 10th anniversary concert. Little spectacle. Little nonsense. Just this group of people telling a story; allowing themselves to feel their way through the music… that is until the unsightly fireworks display at the end of the production. But that’s another quibble for another time.

The trailer provides some hope. I am very excited about Anne Hathaway’s interpretation of
“I Dreamed a Dream.” Simple. Simple. Simple. The cinematography looks absolutely stunning, I appreciate the distinct lack of Lea Michelle and Taylor Swift, and I love and respect Tom Hooper’s previous work. I am a little concerned about Helena Bonham Carter, though. Perhaps her unfortunate teenage followers will be put off by the lack of… paleness.

I hope that Mr. Hooper doesn’t get lost in the grandeur of it all, and manages to tell the story that both Victor Hugo and Claude-Michel Schönberg intended.

– Isaac Y.

P.S.- Colm Wilkinson plays the Bishop of Digne. That was nice of them.

P.P.S.- Here’s the trailer.

Copyright © 2012 Universal Pictures

Les Misérables is directed by Tom Hooper

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo and its stage adaptation by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean,
Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert
Anne Hathaway as Fantine,
Amanda Seyfried as Cosette
Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy
Samantha Barks as Éponine
Sacha Baron Cohen as Thénardier
Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier
Aaron Tveit as Enjolras
Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche