The teaser trailer was recently released for the film version of long-running show Les Miserables. The video contains Anne Hathaway singing ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ as the unfortunate character Fantine, and clips of all the other major characters. There has been a buzz around this film for a while, mainly on Twitter, with many involved in the West End production being employed as minor characters. There are many things relating to this film that have made me realise just how much this is a labour of love for producer Cameron Mackintosh and director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).
The casting was the first clue; all of the main cast are well-known actors but all have already proved they can sing. Many die-hard theatre fans will know Hugh Jackman (Valjean) started in musical theatre and has showcased this at the Academy and Tony awards multiple times. Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) have sung in many of their films and Russell Crowe (Javert) is in a band and released his own album. The biggest casting news had been them turning Taylor Swift down for the role of Eponine and employing ‘unknown’ performer Samantha Barks instead. Barks is only unknown in comparison to the big names of her fellow cast members, but has proven her worth on TV (I’d Do Anything) and in the West End.
The second clue that this film was different is how they are recording the singing. For many films and TV shows such as Glee, the songs are pre-recorded and actors then mime to their own voices on camera. For this film however they went for a different approach – all the singing was done live on set. “If you are miming to a playback, even if the synchronisation is done very well, there is a part of you that knows something is off, something is false,” Hooper told USA Today, “When it’s live, you believe it so much more. The actors have complete freedom rather than following a recording done three months before.”
The performers themselves have also commended the directorial decision; Alistair Brammer who has been in the West End cast and features in the film mentioned on his Twitter, “I MUST say, to people that don’t know or realise, ALL the vocals were done live on set for #lesmismovie. Makes it that bit more amazing. No dubbing whatsoever. Hell of a hard job. No musical movie’s ever done this before. I think the leads deserve a ruddy pat on the back!” (31 May 2012.)
The benefits of this are immense; actors can really get into a song and character instead of spending their time trying to make the lip-synching seem real. It also means that everyone involved is working as a singer with all that comes with it, such as caring for the voice over a long period of time. It is easy to criticise for the use of big names but studios need a guarantee that people are going to watch the film – this could be the best balance we have seen of celebrity name and talented performers. I could go on and on about how much this film excites me but I have no doubt that the proof will be in the completed film which is in cinemas December 2012.
Image credit: hokukabo