Way back in November of 2009 I did a post called Redux. This was the first in a stream of posts that features movies that have been done over many times. We know Hollywood does this with increasing frequency — just think of this summer's remake of Spider-Man a mere 5 years after the last of the Tobey Maguire offerings.
The film I chose to feature then was Les Miserables—easily one of my favourite stories of all time, not to mention absolutely my favourite musical. This is a story that has been retold many times on film—in fact, going all the way back to 1909!
Unless you have been living on Mars, if you are a fan of musicals you know that in December the big screen adaptation of the very successful stage musical will be released to the world. The cast is wonderful with some of the choices more than a little surprising but nonetheless inspired. Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean—yes all you X-Men fans, not only can the man lay down a serious butt kicking, he also sings like a dream. Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen are but a few more in lead roles and it is being directed by 2011's Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King's Speech). They have thrown a lot of $$ at this and the returns should be huge. If you've been fortunate enough to catch a trailer at the theatre you know how glorious it looks. If you haven't there are only about a billion sites. If you live in Hong Kong you can see it on Dec 20, Japan on Dec 21, but if you are Canadian you have to wait until Christmas Day. Some of you are thinking Christmas is coming too fast—for me and millions of others, it can't get here soon enough.
To get your fix prior to the 25th try any of these very good Les Mis productions:
1935 and 1952 This is one DVD that has two versions included. Side A is with the incomparable Charles Laughton as Javert and Frederick March as Jean Valjean. Side B is the Michael Rennie interpretation. Both are good.
1934 Widely considered one of the greatest film adaptations of the story, this 5 hour film is in French with English subtitles.
1998 Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Liam Neeson as Valjean and Claire Danes as daughter Cosette. I rank this one right up there.
2000 A mini series of Les Mis from our French DVD collection which I have not seen. It features Gerard Depardieu and rather surprisingly John Malkovich as Javert. Surprising only in that until this post I did not now that Malkovich was fluent in French, having lived and worked there for nearly 10 years.
The musical version of Les Misérables opened at the Broadway Theater on March 12, 1987 and ran for 6680 performances, making it the third longest running show on Broadway. We have two versions of the musical—the 10th anniversary Concert at London's Royal Albert Hall and the 25th anniversary Concert. Experience the event of a lifetime with this spectacular 25th anniversary celebration of one of the most popular musicals ever written. Honoring 25 years of this incredible show, this momentous film captures the excitement of two magnificent sold-out performances that were watched live around the world. With a phenomenal all-star cast and a company of over 500 additional artists and musicians.
They are both excellent productions. The tenth features a wonderful tribute wherein all the Jean Valjeans from around the world march onto the stage singing in their native language.