Sunday, January 06, 2013
less miserable than other films
"An adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose."
So wrote G. K. Chesterton. And, by my reckoning, he was half right.
Adventures choose us. But unless we accept the adventure, it is merely an opportunity lost.
This was an adventure weekend. Well, a weekend of watching movies about adventure.
The first was The Hobbit. (Reviewed earlier in dwarfs and a dragon.)
This time I saw it at a Cinteopia theater with its superb visual and audio quality. And I enjoyed the film as much as I did before. Even though I could have done without the 3-D treatment.
The second film was Les Misérables -- the film version of the 1985 musical.
I was prepared to be disappointed. The musical is a rather overblown melodrama of Victor Hugo's novel. The novel centers around the very personal adventure of redemption that came to the criminal Jean Valjean through the grace of a bishop.
A story powerful enough that Whittaker Chambers believed it would make a reader either a Communist or a Christian. It made him both.
But the film works. It takes advantage of the personal nature of the camera and resurrects Hugo's human perspective from the novel.
The director made a wise choice to use the actor's singing voices from the original takes. Rather than dubbing the voices in post-production. The technique gives the actors -- even those who are not professional singers -- an opportunity to use their voices as acting tools, rather than mere performance.
And the voices are brought forward -- over the music. The music merely accompanies the story. Just the reverse of the stage music-voice mix.
The music is stripped down when it needs to be. Anne Hathaway's interpretation of "I Dreamed a Dream" is a poignant lament of a life that has had highs -- only to end in despair. On stage, it is raw bathos. The film version knowingly connects with its audience.
The film could have benefited from a heavier editing hand. By trying to be too true to the stage version, the film often plods.
But it is a small quibble.
Chesterton would see the film for what it is. An adventure of grace seeking humans willing to accept what always comes with adventure -- an opportunity to find a better part within us.