The moment Broadway babies have been waiting for has at long, long last finally arrived - the LES MISERABLES movie trailer just hit the internet in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. As many suspected - and as the leaked, low-quality workprint teaser indicated a few weeks back - the song selection showcased in the clip assembly was, indeed, Anne Hathaway's impassioned and plaintive "I Dreamed A Dream", and, just as suspected, the trailer absolutely delivered in giving us the decadence, drama, epic imagery and all-consuming emotion we expected from the international musical sensation onscreen. All the ingredients for a potent theatrical-cum-cinematic stew of grand proportions are in place, as can clearly be seen in this delicately arranged and wondrously detailed trailer that mixes about the disparate elements and decade-spanning stories into a striking series of sumptuous mise en scene and moving tableaus. You know that if the trailer can elicit a tear or two from you, then the movie is sure to open up a veritable ocean of emotion. That's what LES MIZ does best, after all - it taps into our shared humanity and shows us what we can overcome if we set our minds, hearts and souls on the correct course; and what comes of those who follow a different path altogether.
One More Dawn
Originally announced as far back as 1991 - with national tour programmes for the stage show at the time even going so far as to include a promotional ad for the proposed film version - the LES MISERABLES movie musical has had a long and tumultuous journey to the silver screen, and, today, it arrived. Through the diligent patience and painstaking attentiveness of lead producer Cameron Mackintosh, audiences the world over will finally have their chance to experience one of the most successful Broadway and West End musicals of all time in a whole new way on the big screen come Christmas 2012 and this first glimpse we have of the final finished produced almost twenty-five years in the making is truly something to behold - agog, as it were. It was worth the wait. Nabbing Oscar-winning THE KING'S SPEECH director Tom Hooper at the peak of his creative powers and post-statuette tinsel-town studio power, Mackintosh and company have evidently proceeded to create the dream film of LES MIZ - just as many would argue the 10th anniversary concert was the most exciting fan experience of all time up until that time; without even mentioning the recent unprecedented 25th anniversary celebration at the O2, which is also available on DVD and Blu-ray - and give us all what we have been waiting for in a movie musical: live singing by a who's-who of Hollywood and Broadway telling a story that speaks directly to this moment in history with some killer music to remain with us long after the final reel. Given the financial hardships of most and the uncertain future for many in the USA right now, the time is certainly right culturally - the time is now; right now - for the hopeful message of LES MIZ to hit its mark and perhaps make a difference. But, before the message of the movie and musical - let's address the mega-wattage of the cast that Mackintosh and Hooper have assembled for this epic entertainment event.
Utilizing a head-turning cast of Hollywood superstars and heavyweights, the LES MIZ movie cast is overloaded with marquee names and stars-on-the-rise - and some Broadway notables, as well. One-of-a-kind Broadway/Hollywood crossover king Hugh Jackman portrays Jean Valjean, the redemption-seeking hero of LES MIZ, with Oscar-winner Russell Crowe as his fierce and fearsome adversary, Javert. Then, the tapesty of the tale expands: there is the band of young men fighting the bloody war that paints the backdrop of the classic Victor Hugo-devised saga of war, glory and perserverance - in the film, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN lead Eddie Redmayne and erstwhile CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and NEXT TO NORMAL heartthrob Aaron Tveit portray the two most significant figures of that band of political activists and revolutionaries; Marius and Enjorlas, respectively. As far as the female cast is concerned, Samantha Barks reprises her O2 concert role of Eponine, with MAMMA MIA! breakout ingénue Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and feature film leading lady Anne Hathaway rounding out the cast of lovely leading ladies of LES MIZ as the tragic heroine Fantine. Besides all of them, there is, of course, THE DICTATOR himself, Sacha Baron Cohen - who has already acquitted himself quite well with a movie musical; Stephen Sondheim's SWEENEY TODD, with director Tim Burton - as Thenardier, alongside THE KING'S SPEECH's Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier. As if they were not enough, in addition to that heady assortment of top-tier talents, the LES MIZ movie musical also includes cameos by original cast members Colm Wilkinson, Frances Ruffelle and more. In other words, the cast of LES MIZ is manna from theatrical heaven - and much more than merely a few crusts of bread thrown over the bridge.
Set to the strains of perhaps the most famous song from Boublil and Schonberg's heralded, internationally renown songstack for LES MIZ, "I Dreamed A Dream" - recently made a pop culture touchstone thanks to Susan Boyle, incidentally - Anne Hathaway delves deeply into the bruised soul of the tragic Fantine to create an instantly memorable and enjoyably idiosyncratic take on the emotional, much-covered ballad. This is the moment many cursory fans of the stage show and cast album will be waiting for - and many die-hards, as well, for that matter - and presenting the song in this form, in the very first glimpse we have of the film, is a smart and well-played choice on the parts of the filmmakers, producers and powers-that-be. Tastefully done - as is everything else. "I Dreamed A Dream" is the only aural evidence we have of the songs and how they will sound in the live-on-set-recorded LES MIZ soundtrack thus far - except, of course, for a few brief snatches of Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit that have managed to leak as a result of on-location filming earlier this year (portions of the opening sequence and "Do You Hear The People Sing?"). Yes, Hathaway may have to make some room on her mantle come 2013 if these looks at and listen to her performance is any indication of how well she plays this role that originally brought Patti LuPone an Olivier Award.
As for the rest of the LES MIZ trailer, to write much more would be to spoil the fun of experiencing the final finished film. Speculation is best left to message board, anyway, isn't it? There is so very, very much to discuss, though - it's a whole lot of LES MIZ. We can make many, many assumptions as to how scenes will eventually play out and attempt to glean the general idea of how many moments will be portayed by dwelling on the many moments that make up this montage, but, in the case of a three-hour musical epic such as LES MIZ, a 90-second trailer set to the soundtrack capture of one song is not going to give us very much insofar as the impact the whole thing will ultimately have. What we can see is that Mackintosh, Hooper and company have produced a visually striking and seemingly fully-realized filmatic answer to the stage spectacular that has set millions of hearts afire around the world over the course of its multi-decade prominence as one of the world's most beloved musicals - and, if only for that, this is a moment to celebrate.
LES MISERABLES: THE MOVIE MUSICAL could very well be the most exciting and daring movie musical to come along this century, with the cast of a lifetime putting it all on the line to make it come alive (literally; by singing live) - and a director and producer who know how to make it come across onscreen as enthrallingly and excitingly as possible. Christmas can't come soon enough - but, until then… one more dawn; one more day; one day more.