There are two very different ‘event’ films arriving this December: Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (the beginning of a second Middle-earth trilogy) and Les Misérables, The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the massively successful stage musical (which is based on Victor Hugo’s socially-conscious 19th century novel).
The Les Miz teaser trailer featured an excerpt from Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” – one of several beloved songs from the Broadway musical – and glimpses of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, playing the tormented Jean Valjean and his adversary Inspector Javert. A new TV trailer (see above) includes scattered bits of previously-unseen footage here and there, in addition to what sounds like a slightly cleaned-up version of Hathaway singing.
Much has been made about the texture and grit of Hooper’s cinematic take on the Les Miz show, as well as the decision to have cast members record their songs live during filming. The final film appears to be a musical with an unusually tangible, yet sophisticated, visual design, as brought to life by a capable cast that boasts both strong acting and singing chops alike. Les Miz could be the rare screen/music mashup that draws in moviegoers beyond the core musical-loving demographic (something Rock of Ages failed to do this past summer).
Here’s the synopsis, followed by an official poster featuring Isabelle Allen as young Cosette (recreating the iconic Les Miz musical image):
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.
Supporting Les Miz cast members include Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Samantha Barks, and Colm Wilkinson (who originated the role of Valjean on stage). We’ve gotten to see most of these actors in character, with the exception of Carter and Cohen – as the scheming and immoral Thénardiers – who have yet to make their debut in public. The casting of those two seems spot-on, though, so the eventual reveal should prove to be worth the ‘build-up.’
Les Misérables opens in theaters on Christmas Day.