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Sunday, 20 January 2013

'Life of Pi' and 'Les Miserables'

What can you say about Life of Pi that hasn't already been said? Just to reiterate that it is a beautifully shot and beautifully paced movie. The special effects are stunning and, unlike many films in which 3D seems to be a gimmicky add-on, I imagine here would add to the sense of magical realism. All this is, of course, essential if the point being made about the kind of stories we value is to carry imaginative force. That Ang Lee manages this is the supreme achievement of this marvellous movie.

Les Miserables, based as it is on a very different style of novel, is therefore a very different proposition as a movie. Victor Hugo's writing has the breadth of Dickens, without the emphasis on grotesque caricature, but what both do on a grand scale is to reveal the plight of those at bottom of the pile in society. While Dickens engages through satire and sentiment, Hugo utilises a depth of emotion which is what has been tapped in making the musical and film of the musical so successful.

Cameron Mackintosh has written of how the show elevated both the audience and the cast "to a state of powerful emotion rarely seen in the theatre." Tom Hooper utilises close-ups of his characters combined with live singing to ratchet up the emotional content of story and song. Hugo's story, with its themes of repentance and redemption, has sufficient depth and seriousness of content and character to sustain this approach. With the comic relief of the Thénardiers, Hooper's approach changes focussing on the comedy of their thieving which then has the effect of dissipating the comic bombast of their singing. With this aside, the emotive flow continues to a climax which both returns us to the story's redemptive beginning and releases the central characters and ourselves, as audience, from its relatively unrelentingly grip.


Anne Hathaway - I Dreamed A Dream.

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