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Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?
FILM REVIEWS

Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?

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Les Misérables (2012)

On Amazon Prime, et al

(PG-13)

Grade: A

In all of film, I don’t think there’s ever been a more exquisite sadness than when Anne Hathaway sang of her sorrows in “Les Mis.”

“I dreamed a dream in times gone by.

When hope was high and life worth living

I dreamed, that love would never die

I dreamed that God would be forgiving”

Sweet Anne discovered that life is cruel.

The tigers came at night, with their voices soft as thunder, and tore her hopes apart.

I have no doubt that seeing “Les Misérables” on Broadway/London is the only authentic way to absorb the full impact of this play. Most purists would rather hear singers acting than actors singing. And Tom Hooper’s 2012 film adaptation has its shortcomings. Russell Crowe?

But watching this version is still an almost spiritual experience, transporting us back inside the words of Victor Hugo and into the midst of the Paris Uprising of 1832.

There we meet a host of characters – some sad and vulnerable, some cruel and heartless. Many of them will, like Anne, die – dreams unfulfilled.

This is a story of sacrifice and idealism, largely unrewarded.

The script is part Hugo, part Hollywood. The timeless 1500-page spiritual story of a man who stole a loaf of bread and paid for it a thousand times over is covered by studio trappings – eternal themes visible, but more faintly.

But the music. Oh my, the music.

Chills, chills, chills. Glorious goosebumps, time and time again.

Music transports me places I can reach no other way.

I believe that when our body is weak, a blood transfusion may be the answer.

And I believe that when our soul is weak, an infusion of music may be the antidote.

Our troubles may be smoothed and soothed by hearing others sing of their sadness. We are not alone.

After listening to Anne’s requiem one lonely morning, I decided to cue up the 2012 film adaptation of the play.

I’ve reviewed the movie before. Today, I’m just wanting to share the music.

Is it possible to enjoy music in print? We have imaginations, don’t we? Beethoven, though deaf, heard symphonies.

Inspired by Ludwig (who names a child that?), let’s just enjoy the music of “Les Mis” together.

No chronology here, I’ll let the music come to me as it will. Forgive me if I bypass your favorite.

Where to start? How about we invite the whole cast on stage to end Act I with a rousing chorus of love, loneliness, revolution. About everything, really. If your soul isn’t stirred, check your pulse.

One day more. Another day, another destiny. This never-ending road to Calvary...

One day to a new beginning

Tomorrow we’ll discover what God has in store. One more day. One day more.

Young idealists know blood will be spilled, likely their own.

Red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past!

Fear of death cannot stop them, of course.

They join arms, climb on broken furniture and sing their battle cry as the troops march towards them, drums beating:

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing a song of angry men?

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again

When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums

There is a life about to start

When tomorrow comes

Yes, tomorrow comes and blows out gentle candles, including an innocent, brave young boy.

Somewhere along the way, Fantine will bring us to tears as she dies.

Earlier, Jean Valjean sang a prayer, begging God to save another, offering his own life, in return.

God on high hear my prayer. In my need you have always been there.

He is young. He is afraid. Let him rest...bring him home..

In good time, it will be Valjean’s time to go home.

And Fantine will take him there. Anne’s spirit lives!

Come with me where chains will never bind you.

All your grief lost at last behind you...

Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation

Take my love, for love is everlasting

And remember the truth that once was spoken

To love another person is to see the face of God.

Fantine’s spirit has returned to walk him to the castle in the clouds of which the child Cosette sang.

There is a castle on a cloud...a place where no one’s lost...

a place where no one cries. Not in my castle on a cloud.

I enter that cloud, too, each time my heart submits to “Les Mis.”

And it’s the music that takes me there.

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