Friday, January 11, 2013

Les Misérables' Film Soundtrack Strikes Me As Annoyingly Incomplete

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Those of you who receive my newsletter may recall that I said this  blog would be a look back at 2012.  I'd fully intended to post just such an entry, but as I began writing it I found myself regurgitating tired clichés about having survived the end of the Mayan calendar, the Summer Olympics, and welcoming back Obama

I sighed as I realized these topics have already been written into ground, and I had nothing intelligent to add to them.  Once I removed these topics from the piece, I was left with an incomplete rant on the recent string of mass shootings in America.  Such a rant WILL appear on this blog, but I hardly wanted to kick off 2013 with it.  Thus I shifted gears, and decided to write about an enigmatic, if trivial, annoyance.
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Les Misérables is film based on Victor Hugo's 19th century novel of the same name. Starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried as (Adult) Cosette, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, and Samantha Barks as (Adult) Éponine, Les Misérables is, in a nutshell, the story of a man being hounded by a despotic lawman over a trivial crime.  In fact, if you've ever seen TV shows such as  The Fugitive, The A-Team, or The Incredible Hulk (Bill Bixby's version) in which the hero flees an overly determined cop/reporter, they were all, at least partially, inspired by Hugo's story.

Aside from the multiple moral questions the story asks, what makes the movie so powerful is the fact that the story is told entirely through very dynamic music, which was sung directly on the set.  Having spent Christmas at the movie, I couldn't wait to get the soundtrack and play this soul stirring music at home.   Thus, once the holidays settled down, I bought it on ITunes for $16.99.

The Movie Soundtrack features the following pieces:
"Look Down" (Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and The Convicts)
"The Bishop" (Colm Wilkinson)
"Valjean's Soliloquy" (Hugh Jackman)
"At the End of the Day" (Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, The Factory Girls and Cast)
"I Dreamed a Dream" (Anne Hathaway)
"The Confrontation" (Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway)
"Castle On a Cloud" (Isabelle Allen)
"Master of the House" (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter)
"Suddenly" (Hugh Jackman)
"Stars" (Russell Crowe)
"ABC Cafe/Red and Black" (Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit and Cast)
"In My Life"/"A Heart Full of Love" (Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks)
"On My Own" (Samantha Barks)
"One Day More" (Cast)
"Drink With Me" (Eddie Redmayne, Daniel Huttlestone and Cast)
"Bring Him Home" (Hugh Jackman)
"The Final Battle" (Cast)
"Javert's Suicide" (Russell Crowe)
"Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" (Eddie Redmayne)
"Epilogue" (Amanda Seyfriend, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Anne Hathaway, Colm Wilkinson and Cast)

 I was listening to my purchase for the first time, when I began noticing some strange omissions.  "Who Am I?" sung by Jean Valjean, "Lovely Ladies" sung by The Ladies of the Night, "Do You Hear The People Sing?" sung by The Revolutionists, and "A Little Fall of Rain" sung by Éponine & Marius were missing from the soundtrack.

Since the movie was 2 hours & 37 minutes of continuous music, some things had to be cut from the album, granted.  However, "Who Am I?" "Do You Hear The People Sing?" and "A Little Fall of Rain" are, each in their way, three of the most emotionally powerful pieces in the film. 

The primary reason I buy a soundtrack is to re-experience the music, and emotional flow of a movie.  I won't spoil the plot to explain the significance of each song. Suffices to say that the omissions of these songs interrupted the overall flow with glaring gaps.

I solved the problem for myself, to some extent, by buying the four songs off the Broadway Soundtrack and inserting them into my playlist.   The voices are different, but the songs are at least there now.

Nevertheless, I'll always wonder what the decision making process was when producers chose which cuts made the Movie Soundtrack.
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