Aww, you can stay out if you like Slinky
Big interesting posts like that are fun!
I do agree with you that one of the big challenges was bringing something quite "abstract" as you put it to a realistic medium. Considering that the film is not a million miles away in its adaptation from the musical, it's been really interesting to see people commenting on how some things appear silly on film that don't appear silly on stage (Marius and Cosette falling in love is one that is often cited). Makes me love theatre all the more personally, but I've always hated naturalism
. Your point that the stage show is minimalist is also something I think a lot of people forget (and the effectiveness of it is something I really love). I really enjoyed some of the non-realistic movement, things like the letter grabbing in the factory scene. There were little touches here and there that made it seem like it wasn't just realistic staging with singing over the top, but nothing forceful enough that it would disrupt the expectations of a film audience.
I don't know so much about the Dutch angles - some people have said that Hooper's work features them a lot? - not having seen his other work. But I liked his comment that the close ups are a reflection that the soliloquies (not just the two that are called that, I mean all the solos which are in that style) aren't really affected by where they are set, the setting is of little relevance to the actual song. And that once that is realised, what's the point in showing that when you could be focusing on the effect that watching it close up and seeing the detail of the acting can bring. I certainly think this works in some numbers at least - I really rather liked Valjean's Soliloquoy. I also think that those complaining about it have really been conditioned into the way that modern blockbuster cinema is filmed and edited, invariably in the same way with little attempt at a new art or anything non-naturalist. I don't know so much that the effect is to alienate the viewer and get them to view it as art rather than immersing them. Or, if it is, that it is not negated by the rest of the film. I mean....it's still Les Mis and is pretty darn immersive to go by how a new audience sees it or it wouldn't have the same emotional effect. I think anyway...I mean, I've seen people cry over the very memory of Mother Courage, which is obviously pretty alienating.
I think your point about the showstoppers vs the ensemble numbers is probably correct, though I'd also add in the running time factor likely being involved in that decision too.
Though I have to disagree with you on I Dreamed a Dream and Stars, since they are possibly my two favourites. I was just listening to J'Avais Reve D'un Autre Vie the other day and thinking "my goodness the English lyrics are far better!"