LES MISERABLES Blu-ray Review
Les Miserables is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios. If you love musicals, then Les Miserables is a must-watch, and may be a must-own for you. This is my first experience with Les Miserables, I have not seen the stage production and did not see this film in theaters. I am one of those people that is not a huge fan of musicals. Singing and dancing are not skills that I am good at, but I have an immense respect for them. It is hard enough to sing, let alone dance and sing.
Director Tom Hooper took a departure from The King’s Speech by directing this grand musical classic. The film is adapted from the stage play of the same name, which is based on Victor Hugo’s novel. It stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bohnam Carter.
Our own Brad McHargue reviewed the theatrical version of Les Miserables, which you can read here. He put together a fantastic description of the plot:
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread and a subsequent escape attempt, is paroled by Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). After breaking parole and eventually becoming mayor of a small town under the new name of Monsieur Madeleine, Valjean makes a promise to Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a fired factory worker forced into prostitution, that he would look after her daughter Cosette, who lives with the Thenardiers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), a pair of swindling innkeepers. Meanwhile, Javert learns Valjean’s true identity and vows to capture him. Nine years later, the students and poor of Paris are planning an uprising following the death of General Lamarque, led by Enjorlas (Aaron Tveit) and joined by Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne), the latter of whom falls in love with Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), much to the chagrin of his friend Eponine (Samantha Barks), who is in love with him. As Javert continues to hunt down Valjean, the students prepare for the rebellion as Marius seeks out Cosette.
Unlike Brad, I was very pleased with Les Miserables on Blu-ray. I had heard that it was not possible to make a movie version of this stage play, but feel as though Hooper has done wonderfully. People who’ve seen the play say that he basically took the production and made it into a movie leaving a lot of the story out. Some cutting of the plot has to be done for an story of this magnitude or we would have a 6 hour movie. I was very impressed with the overall production value, and think that the performances are fantastic.
Yeah, Crowe may be a bit out of place, but I challenge many of you to have the nerve to sing on the big screen. I equate his performance to me singing in my high school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was way out of my league, but did the best I could. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are fantastic, and do an amazing job of singing. I was very surprised by the abilities of Seyfried and Redmayne.
I am a fan of costumes in movies, and love the costumes used throughout the film. The overall production value is larger-than-life throughout the movie as well. The Blu-ray features a wonderful audio and video quality. Luckily the movie had a great starting point thanks to Hooper collaborator and cinematographer Danny Cohen. Cohen has given Les Miserables a gritty tone thanks to the use of both dark moody lighting and natural lighting. The audio quality is equally strong, thanks to the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track.
The Blu-ray comes with well over an hour worth of special features:
- Feature Commentary by Director Tom Hooper – This section gives audiences a ton of details about how the film was made. From Hooper’s choice to have the actors sing live on set to the various technical details that went into bring the story from stage to screen.
- Les Misérables: A Revolutionary Approach – This section is over an hour long alone, and has various segments featuring the cast and crew.
- The Original Masterwork: Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables – Hooper and the producer talk about Hugo’s novel and the source material.
- BD Live Functionality.
Les Miserables is such a powerful and emotional movie, so keep your tissues handy.