Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Les Miserables Movie Soundtrack Review

I'm so sorry that it's been so long since I've posted. :( I will definitely try to change my habit of not posting for long periods of time!

One of my friends from school introduced me to Les Miserables. I haven't watched the movie and I have only started reading the book, but I am already in love with this story --- and the soundtrack for the movie.

The soundtrack opens with a bang with Look Down. The emotions that the listener feels is of pity for the poor men working as galley slaves, especially for the main character, Jean Valjean, and of disgust for Javert's unforgiving nature.

Next track, The Bishop. We get to hear what a lot of people call "the voice of God" - the voice of Colm Wilkinson, the bishop.

"What I have done? Sweet Jesus, what have I done? Become a thief in the night, become a dog on the run," Jean deplores in Valjean's Soliloquy. We hear of Jean's struggles with both his conscience and the world. This track is chilling and gives hope at the same time. "He told me that I have a soul,/How does he know?" Excellent acting in this piece.

We get another bang as At the End of the Day begins, however, this track has more of a hopeful air than Look Down. The people deplore their condition, but all agree they should be grateful for what they have. The tone of the song becomes more dark as we hear of the young woman Fantine losing her job. She has a child to feed. What should she do?

The tone is again desperate, but beautiful in Anne Hathaway's representation of the famous I Dreamed a Dream. I like how Anne (aka Fantine) puts the desperation in her voice, rather than trying to make this piece sound as lofty and beautiful as others have done, such as Susan Boyle.

Then we have The Confrontation between Jean (Hugh Jackman) and Javert (Russel Crowe). May I say that I just LOVE Russel Crowe's voice? The conflict between these two men are shown through their conflicting lyrics over top of one another. Jean Valjean's lyrics have a tone of desperation - "All I did was steal some bread!" - while Javert's is accusatory and haughty - "I was born with scum like you".

The soundtrack dips to a calmer, but still sad, part of the soundtrack with Castle on a Cloud by Isabelle Allen, who plays the young Cosette. Cosette sings about her dreams of no more work in a castle where a lady in white cares for her. The song is fragile and innocent.

Comic relief comes with Master of the House, the song of the thieving Thenadiers. This song, sung mainly by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (one of my favourite actresses), is very funny and amusing, especially the parts where Sacha sings about putting "this and that in the sausages" and watering down the beer, and then, in the next breath, sings that he, as innkeeper and landlord, is "everyone's bosom friend".

The soundtrack still stays in its happier element with the next beautiful track, which was composed for the film (and, therefore, is not a song that you will hear anywhere else) - Suddenly. This song is another of Hugh Jackman's solos; this one about the fatherly love he begins to feel for Cosette.

The listener wouldn't be happy without knowing what has been happening to Javert all this time, would he/she? He is still sniffing out Jean's trail, as we can see with the next track, Stars. This song is one those that really shows the tale of the Pharisse and Republican in Les Mis with Javert as the former and Jean Valjean as the latter. "He knows his way in the dark/Mine is the way of the Lord," sings Javert. Uh huh...yeah, I totally buy into that, Javert. ;)

Next track is one the songs that's near the top of my favourites list - ABC Cafe/Red and Black. Why? Because Enjolras is the coolest guy EVER. Who doesn't like an inspiring song just before a battle? *bursts out singing "It is time to decide who we are/Do we fight for the right to a night at the opera now?"*

Then for all those hopeless romantics like me, there's In My Life/A Heart Full of Love. Hopefully you like love triangles rather than hate them because we've got two lovebirds, Marius and Cosette, with poor Eponine out in the cold. I think I would like this song a little better if Eponine wasn't singing over top of Marius and Cosette, reminding me that she's all alone. Marius really is so blind.

Next there's Eponine's (aka Samantha Barker) heartbreaking On My Own. This song is one of those ones that is better to listen on a stereo than headphones because I couldn't hear the rain in the background (losing some of that special touch to the song) on my headphones.

The next track is one of my ULTIMATE FAVOURITES. And what is it? One Day More. I love the musical element to this one, with all the different people from the cast singing at different times and sometimes overlapping each other. Jean Valjean despairs of the time when Javert might find him, Marius and Cosette long to be togther, Eponine wishes Marius would notice her, Enjolras gets ready for the revolution, Javert is a spy, ready to betray the revolutionaries, the Thenardiers have on their 'don't-care' attitude. This song is really the gem of this soundtrack.

Drink With Me is one of the mellower songs of the soundtrack. The students are waiting for the new day to break, when the revolution would begin. It's the calm before the storm.

Bring Him Home is one of the masterpiece songs of the musical Les Miserables as sung by Colm Wilkinson. Hugh Jackman's version of it isn't my favourite, but I think he carried it off moderately well, it being a hard song to sing.

The Final Battle is one of the lows of the soundtrack, in my opinion (meaning in quality). I mean, I like the music and all (very beautiful and heartbreaking), but I don't feel comfortable playing it aloud at home with my little sister. I wince at every gunshot. :P

Believe it or not, Javert's Suicide is another of my favourite songs. Why? If you don't know that I love to dig into a character's thoughts and feelings, then get it into your head right now - and you'll know the reason. Javert has finally got it into his head that Jean Valjean is a good and innocent man, which his mind cannot just take. "This man has killed me even so."

The first few listens, I didn't care for Empty Chairs at Empty Tables (sung by Marius/Eddie Redmayne), but I've grown to appreciate it. Marius mourns for the loss of his friends, that he is still alive while they are gone. He sings this in the place where they used to meet together - the cafe.

The last track of the soundtrack is Epilogue, and even though it may have a boring name, it is one of the best tracks on the soundtrack, ending it off with a bang. Even though I haven't watched the movie or the musical, I can't help crying a little when Cosette weeps over her dying foster father, Jean Valjean. Even though Fantine has died a long time ago, we get Anne Hathaway's lovely voice as she speaks from Heaven to Jean: "Come with me/I'll lead you to salvation", making the whole atmosphere even more heartbreaking with the loveliness and sadness rolled into one. But then this atmosphere fades away, replaced by a triumphant one as the people of France give a round of "Do You Hear the People Sing?"

I absolutely love this soundtrack. I love the overlaying theme of the music from I Dreamed a Dream. This soundtrack evokes so many emotions in the listener. I like the Christian themes in the lyrics. I am definitely looking forward to the deluxe soundtrack, which has around 20 more tracks. I have already ordered it. :)

My Favourite Tracks
- Valjean's Soliloquy
- The Confrontation
- Stars
- ABC Cafe/Red and Black
- On My Own
- One Day More
- Javert's Suicide
- Epilogue

Alyianna's rating: 11 out 10 (because I love it too much :D)


James The Movie Reviewer said...

Not a fan of musicals, but I will have to check out the soundtrack. Great review. :)


Charity U said...

I LOVE this music SO MUCH. Ever since seeing the movie. The more I listen to it, the more I love it! On My Own was my hands down favorite in the movie, and now afterwards too. But Red and Black is amazing, and Javert's Suicide ranks high on my list too. You'll love the deluxe one...I take it you haven't heard Little Fall of Rain yet? It's Eponine's other song, and is simply lovely. It's on youtube if you want to listen. Lovely and so sad! I want that Deluxe soundtrack. SO MUCH. RIGHT NOW. And I want to see the movie again. Oooo, and I love Stars too -- anything sung by Javert, actually. Russell Crowe has an awesome voice!

Alyianna said...

Thanks James!

Hey Charity! I am REALLY bad at keeping things a surprise for myself, so I've listened to all the little previews for the deluxe CD on iTunes. All I can say is...Amazon better send me my CD soon!

Javert's songs are my guilty pleasure at the moment. ;)

God bless,
- Alyianna :)