This Week In Home Entertainment: The Hobbit, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables And More
Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables begins with a compelling scene featuring chains and prisoners pulling a ship into harbor with all their weight. From there, music is the key component of the musical film, but it isn’t the most brilliant one. The rich settings, costumes, and emotions displayed by the actors are all particularly important to the overall vision of the film, from sewer and barricade scenes to romantic moments in the rain. In one of the extras on the disc, a crew member explains it best when he says Les Miserables offers “a cast of great actors and also, really, really good singers.” Good singers and great actors doesn’t necessarily provide the most satisfying viewing experience.
For fans of the more theatrical musical style of the play, this could potentially be more of a problem, but for those looking for a cinematic moment and something that hasn’t been done in the particular scope Les Mis chooses, it’s the perfect movie for the perfect medium. Standout performances from Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Samantha Barks lead an all-star cast to tell a tale of love and redemption on the brink of revolutionary change in France. As Jean Valjean, Jackman finds ways to amend for stealing bread. As Fantine, Hathaway turns her heart to stone and even if you haven’t yet caught the film, you’ve probably been privy to her performance of “I’ve Dreamed a Dream,” which Universal Studios Home Entertainment has wisely used in its advertising platform. Among the rubble on the streets, there are tales of love, thieving, and fallen women. With so many standout moments, these performances can be uneven, but they are without a question worthy of a watch.
Best Special Feature: The extras with the Blu-ray are incredibly detailed, with different featurettes explaining how different shots or facets were achieved. Whether or not you were impressed with singing live “< i>Les Miserables Singing Live” really explores every facet of what it takes to accomplish such a feat for film. There are pianists who work with each of the actors on the songs and everyone is radio miked so they can stay in the right place in the song without any outer noise.
The cast and crew keep fervently stating that the technology for singing live didn’t exist just a few short years ago and the biggest challenge in any given scene was taking the time and effort to shoot live and then having to fix the sound in post. No one is explicit about this, but I’m guessing that did happen on occasion. Those sneaky post people have the magical touch.
If anyone is still not excited about this bonus feature, check out the barricade link below and see how the cast and crew built the set in live time. Note: The Les Miserables Blu-ray and DVD will hit shelves later this week on Friday, March 22.
Other Special Features:
“The Stars of Les Miserables”
“The West End Connection”
“Les Miserables On Location”
“Creating the Perfect Paris”
“Battle at the Barricade”
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