Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Les Mis

Wept all the way through it. Even harder than I did when I saw it on Broadway. I have no idea why I just have to see Fantine swept up into Jean Valjean's arms as he carries her to her death on a hospital bed and I am reduced to a weeping mass of woman.

I cried so hard so many times that even Bing was giving me sidelong glances.

As we left the theatre, an older woman took my arm gently and said, "Those of us who had past lives during the French Revolution really suffer in this play, yes?"

I didn't answer. Just smiled and walked away.

In the car, on the way home, Bing shook her head, commented on how ridiculous that woman was. I didn't answer. Bing isn't a believer in past lives. I'm pretty much a believer but honestly? I have never felt drawn to that time in history at all. I suspect it is something else. The mother in me aching when watching another mother suffering.

Not sure. All I know is that I have been a Les Mis freak from the first time that I saw it over ten years ago. I have seen it on stage four times since and now this movie.

It leaves me breathless with wonder and pain and that last line about loving another person is seeing the face of slays me. It does.

Probably because it took me so long to realize it.

I even read Les Miserables in the original French by Victor Hugo when I was a senior in high school at my French teacher's bidding and wasn't all that moved. This may be because I was assigned this project with the only other student in French IV, a girl named Susan who was about ten times better at it than I was. She read aloud flawlessly, while I stumbled all over the place when it was my turn. When we turned in our translated chapters at each week's end, hers was about twice as long as mine. We both received A's. I am pretty sure that hers was duly earned while mine was due to my persistence, stubbornness and refusal to give up.

But, when the play was given life on stage, it made so much more sense to me. I watched Jean Valjean with pure joy, rejoicing at his huge heart, his leap from a good man to a great one. I ached for Javert, understanding his agony at following all the rules, having a righteous heart and still knowing at the end, that a convicted felon was his better.

Fantine, the doomed mother, was one of my favorites, second only to Eponine who I found so much more compelling than Cosette. I fell in love with Marius right along with her, loving his gentle nature and fierce devotion to his cause.

I even loved the minor characters. I thought Enjolras was incredible, so full of intelligence and true heart. And of course, Gavroche, the gamin faced child in an old soul's body.

The whole play brings me to my knees in a way that I have never been moved before. How about you? Did you enjoy it? Do you plan to see it?

It is worth every dime.


megan blogs said...

I've not seen the movie. I saw the play on Broadway and cried a lot when i saw it. I still cry when i hear Jean Valjean's singing "Let Them Live." It's a prayer to me.

I read it in French, too, and loved it. I loved the play when i saw it. I wasn't sold on Ann Hathaway being Fantine or Russel Crowe being anything other than Russel Crowe. But, perhaps i'll see the movie.

I'm not a big believer in past lives, but there are some things that really get to me at the soul level for reasons i can't explain. At this point, i don't try to, just experience the closeness of the moment and then move on.

Anonymous said...

Did Sven get home for Christmas?

Fiona said...

I wept and my husband sobbed. I loved every minute of it and don't understand why so many people don't. I Dreamed a Dream finally meant something more than being just a beautiful song. Now I wish I had seen the stage version.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but definitely will.

My first love was Sidney Carton from Tale of Two Cities. I'm not sure I ever quite got over him.

Eric said...

I loved the version that came out in the '90s with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush and I cannot wait to see this, hopefully I'll get a day off soon and get to go to the theater...Unfortunately, the two movies I want to see right now (Les Mis and Django) are each nearly three hours long...will make for a very long double feature.