Friday, June 8, 2012

Les Miserables: The movie trailer, and what we can expect from the movie

A few nights ago, I found this trailer:

           After watching it five times in a row(and fangirling all over the place), I was exceedingly excited. It's been my favorite book for two years, and my favorite musical for one. I have the Broadway recording on my mp3 player, and have most of the songs memorized. In my junior year of high school, I tried to put on an abridged version of the musical with some friends. Sadly, we only had seven people available to participate, and our musical plans came to naught. In short, I am a fan. So when I saw the trailer, I was speechless.

Now that I've reclaimed my words, here is a detailed analysis of the trailer.

Fans have protested against the use of "I Dreamed a Dream" in the trailer in the place of more dynamic, exciting songs such as "Do You Hear The People Sing" or "Look Down." However, the usage of this particular song indicates that this movie will emphasise Fantine's story, and secondly Valjean's story, based on the roughly equal screen time given to both characters in the trailer. Based on the scenes chosen for the trailer, the aspects of each story as told in the movie is apparent.

Because the trailer begins with a long shot of Jean Valjean toiling up a snowy slope, then shows him in front of a cross, this movie will probably emphasize Valjean's encounter with the Bishop, as well as his philanthropic leanings.Based on an image of Valjean kneeling before an ornate alter that appears half-way through the trailer, the theme of his conversion will also be emphasised. It is significant that he only appears once with Javier, but is shown three times with Cosette. This fact indicates that his story will take a backseat to Fantine's story.

Fantine's most defining song in the musical is "I Dreamed a Dream." Even though Fantine has slightly less screen time in the trailer, she is always present through this song, indicating that her personal story, and that of her daughter will receive full coverage in the movie. The shots chosen for her appearances in the trailer are significant as well, as in all of them, she is doing something  to provide for her daughter.  She appears in the sewers as the fourth shot in the trailer, in a low-necked silk dress which she wears as a prostitute, according to the novel. She is shown working in the factory, and also shown as her hair is cut off for her to sell, indicating that the lengths to which she is willing to go to care for her daughter will be covered in full. This depiction sets her up as a sacrificial mother, suggesting that her loving care of Cosette will be emphasised.

In the novel, Hugo focuses on each person's story, rather than generalizing. One interesting aspect of the trailer is that there are only about eleven shots containing more than two people, compared to twenty-three shots of two or less characters. Thirteen of these shots are of Valjean and Fantine, indicating that we can expect the movie to focus on the personal stories of Fantine and Valjean, as well as a more personal approach to the other characters in Les Miserables.

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