Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Go on about how awful the movie adaptations were here.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Enjolvert » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:05 am

The article is interesting and makes some fair points but I don't agree with a lot of it. While you can argue a lot of the music may be the same and is repetitive and can generally apply to lots of people and situations as opposed to that specific character, interpretations of a character massively vary from time to time. One Fantine can be pitiful completely; another can be quite aggressive in her descent. One Éponine can play it as the simple lovestruck girl; another can play it as a more gritty girl from the streets. There is less varying with Cosette, but again, she's not ridiculously simple.

I know they mention generalising the music so that it can apply to others; On My Own the main example people criticise which is mentioned, but again isn't that one of the things that makes Hugo's writing great? These characters are brilliant, deep characters, but they're human too. If people feel they can relate to a character, then it's usually because that character is well written as a person. Some may feel they're Éponine in the most simple terms, but then again it's not a terrible thing. Reading the novel, there were times when I could really relate to Marius in how he felt or acted, as well as many of the other male characters in what they did too.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:13 am

I'm a guy, so it may not be my place to discuss, but I definitely disagree with that article, particularly its appraisal of Cosette as "window dressing" for Marius. Cosette's goal, and I think the film makes it clear, is to get out into the world and see what it has in store for her, and yeah, she picks up a boyfriend on the way, but I found her portrayal remarkably relatable.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Gervais » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:29 am

I agree with all if you; just found it and thought I'd share. The author kinda missed the point when it came to how the music is accessible to anyone; like Enjolvert said, universality is what makes the whole thing great. And I personally think that this is something everyone's open to discuss, MP. It wouldn't be a stretch if someone has played Cosette as "window dressing" before, and I'd be surprised if they haven't, but in doing so they miss a lot of her purpose.

Though I do agree that the women mostly act as motivators, but motivation is just as important as action. And Fantine is definitely more than one, and Brick!Eppie helps set forth a lot of things, too...Okay, maybe it's mostly just Cosette whose purpose is to motivate. But still.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby ancslove » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:31 am

I think the article made a lot of good points, including that the story remains compelling even with this huge problematic issue. And it is problematic, the only real question is how much that matters to you. It's a very male-driven story, both Hugo's original novel and the musical in all of its forms. Hugo works in archetypes, and the musical is compelled to turn those archetypes into stereotypes when all of the characters get flattened and simplified due to time constraints. The women motivate and support, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it can be issue when all the women fulfill this role and all the men lead the action. Fantine, Cosette, and Éponine inspire, and are great symbols. They are also great and complex characters. But they aren't really active. We also never really see any of them, even Cosette who gets the happy ending, achieve their dream. And for Éponine, that is certainly the point of her story. And Fantine definitely succeeds in her biggest goal, and sees the result at the end, but she never gets to fully enjoy it. And again, that's the point of her story and role. But even for Cosette, her big dream is to see the world and discover her own past and birthright, and the audience can assume that she gets that, but we never see it. Especially in the musical. She steps into the wider world because she attracts the attention of a boy. Marius is the ticket to her awakening, and Valjean holds and keeps the answers that she seeks, and we never (in the musical) see her enjoy or even really react to attaining her goal.

Les Misérables is still deeply moving and satisfying, though. And I think a large part of that, even for people who watch for the women, is that each woman has a distinct and complex personality and journey. They aren't interchangeable, even though their broad roles are pretty much facets of the same.

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:39 am

It doesn't bother me at all, really. Yes, I am a feminist from a country of notoriously empowered women. But the thing is....the stories of Fantine. Éponine, and Cosette still are realities for so many people. It's not an outdated stereotype if the struggle is still so true for more than half the countries in the world, really.
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:36 am

It always annoys me when people reduce Fantine's character to "hooker with a heart of gold". She's rather more than that and rather more important to the show/book/movie than that. The article coming out with stuff like that seems almost written to get a reaction.

Totally agree with what Enjolvert says about different portrayals though. I think what the article sees as the characters are more the pitfalls that a poor actor can fall into. A good actress plays Éponine as more than just unrequited love, a good actress plays Cosette as more than just love at first sight.

Were the parts really that much bigger in the Original French version? (I shamefully don't listen to it that often). Fantine had two solos I remember, but overall, they don't seem to be sizeably different. Especially as I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own are probably the two best known songs from the show.

I feel like there are a lot more musicals less feminist than Les Mis out there to pick on before starting on this :?
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:40 am

Acaila wrote:It always annoys me when people reduce Fantine's character to "hooker with a heart of gold". She's rather more than that and rather more important to the show/book/movie than that. The article coming out with stuff like that seems almost written to get a reaction.

Totally agree with what Enjolvert says about different portrayals though. I think what the article sees as the characters are more the pitfalls that a poor actor can fall into. A good actress plays Éponine as more than just unrequited love, a good actress plays Cosette as more than just love at first sight.

Were the parts really that much bigger in the Original French version? (I shamefully don't listen to it that often). Fantine had two solos I remember, but overall, they don't seem to be sizeably different. Especially as I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own are probably the two best known songs from the show.

I feel like there are a lot more musicals less feminist than Les Mis out there to pick on before starting on this :?


True. And one thing I like about the movie is that it really rounds out a lot of the aspects of the characters, even for Fantine and Éponine.

As for less feminist musicals, whoa, don't get me started! Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, etc. But again, written for slightly different eras, right?
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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:17 am

Joseph is so often my go to annoyance when you realise that the Narrator was originally written to be played by a man, and Mrs Potiphar's line is usually sung by a man.
And any musical really where the women are just there to look good high kicking in tights (and I say that as someone currently listening to Catch Me If You Can on repeat play, but that's because Aaron Tveit)
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Legeaux » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:02 am

I went along to see it for the second time. I enjoyed it a lot more - I think that's because the changes from the stage version weren't as jarring this time.

Particularly after seeing it a second time, I think that moving IDAD was a good move, and the moving of DYHTPS was a truly great one. I like the idea of the crowd joining in the song (and the revolution).

Russell Crowe's performance continues to grow on me. I think he is a good Javert, but it's just not a stage Javert.

Little things still puzzle me (for instance, why is it the King running the show rather than the swells?) but I'm hoping that such things might be answered by a Director's Commentary on the DVD.

And I do miss Éponine's angelic appearance with Fantine at the end... but I guess mostly for the harmony, and the Bishop's appearance is a much more appropriate fit.

Looking forward to a third viewing... alas that might have to await the DVD release.
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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:07 am

I just went for my third time last night, because I couldn't bear to have seen Mamma Mia more times at the cinema than Les Mis! :D

I thought swells -> king was one of the better changes actually. It makes a little bit more sense to newbies as to what is behind the revolution.

I hadn't thought of commentary actually, I don't normally listen to it on DVDs but I certainly will on this! I heard it's scheduled for a March release, I don't know if that's everywhere or just the US. Hoping we'll get it here too (just for the extras if nothing else). And still hoping like crazy for an extended edition!
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Majestic_Picnob » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:36 am

About misogynistic musicals... I'm told Annie Get Your Gun was actually written to be antifeminist (specifically, to encourage women to go back to being homemakers after their husbands returned from WWII) and the thing at the end where Annie stops being a sharpshooter to support her husband's career? Yeah, in real life it was the other way around.

Grease is also commonly criticized as having a sort of "Only sluts get boyfriends, so become a slut today!" message, which I kind of agree with. I don't see Fiddler as antifeminist, though; I haven't seen it in years, but didn't the conflict essentially boil down to Tevye having to let his daughters choose what they want to do, and how "TRADITIOOOOOOOOOOOOON!" isn't always the best thing to live your life by?
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Rose1836
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Rose1836 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:55 pm

About misogyny: Les Misérables is written in 19th century so it´s main villainess is - probably not accidentally - a middle-aged woman, because there simply was not positive over 30 women in ANY fiction. Pretty young girls were only acceptable form to women. On the other hand, Brick at least had sympathetic Sister Simplice who was "not young, nor old" (I paraphrase freely).
And if we speak about misogyny in theatre, how about Commedia dell´arte? Oh boy. Women who are not pretty young bimbos are middle-aged whores or old witches with a whorey past. On the other hand, men get same sleazy treatment, which does not make it any better.

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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Courgette » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:16 pm

Rose1836 wrote:About misogyny: Les Misérables is written in 19th century so it´s main villainess is - probably not accidentally - a middle-aged woman, because there simply was not positive over 30 women in ANY fiction. Pretty young girls were only acceptable form to women. On the other hand, Brick at least had sympathetic Sister Simplice who was "not young, nor old" (I paraphrase freely).


Exactly. Why do these people always look at a story set in the 19th century from a 21st century prism? Did they expect women to be entrepreneurs or something in those days? There is a reason why Fantine had no option but to turn to prostitution to fend for her daughter. That is what the reality of life was for women in those days. These people keep talking about sexism, and how women were oppressed in the days gone by, and when reality stares them in the face, they suddenly go into denial mode, and label a beautifully sensitive and socially relevant treatise as 'misogynistic'. Hugo only tells us how women were treated in those days (& he clearly blames society for it). He certainly does NOT say women should be treated only like that, and he certainly does NOT glorify women being treated like that. So where does the question of misogyny come from?
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Rose1836
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Rose1836 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:22 pm

I agree; Hugo shows lot of sympathy toward her characters, Fantine´s fate is NOT some " Punishment for fallen in love and having a child out of wedlock is degradation and death" type of treatise.

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Acaila
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Re: Musical Movie Reviews/Discussion

Postby Acaila » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:43 pm

Interestingly, I think the film de-emphasises the role of men in her downfall compared to the musical. The foreman isn't nearly as crass and predatory as he is usually played in my experience, the focus is more on the factory women condemning her. And in Lovely Ladies, the pimp seemed less important than the madame (telling the toothpuller to take the back ones, the blocking of the scene focusing more on her, etc.). Patriarchal system causing women to oppress other women. Don't know if it was a conscious choice, just something that I noticed out of it.
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