Les Misérables (2012 film)
Cinematic teaser poster
designed by Ignition Print
|Directed by||Tom Hooper|
|Produced by||Tim Bevan
|Screenplay by||William Nicholson
|Based on||Les Misérables
by Alain Boublil
Helena Bonham Carter
Sacha Baron Cohen
|Music by||Claude-Michel Schönberg|
|Editing by||Melanie Ann Oliver
|Studio||Working Title Films
Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||158 minutes|
Les Misérables is a 2012 British epic musical drama film produced by Working Title Films and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. The film is directed by Tom Hooper, director of The King's Speech, scripted by William Nicholson, Boublil, Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and stars an ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. The film tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who becomes mayor of a town in France. Soon exposed, Valjean agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of the dying Fantine, but as a fugitive must also avoid being captured again by police inspector Javert. The plot spans 17 years and is set against a backdrop of political turmoil, which in the film culminates in the June Rebellion of France.
Development of Les Misérables based on the stage musical began in the late 1980s. After the musical's 25th Anniversary concert in October 2010, producer Cameron Mackintosh, producer of Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera, announced that the film resumed development. Hooper and Nicholson were approached in March 2011 and the main characters were cast in 2011. Principal photography commenced in March 2012, and took place in various English locations, including Greenwich, London, Chatham, Winchester and Portsmouth,as well as in Gourdon, France.
Les Misérables premiered in London on 5 December 2012, and was released on 25 December 2012 in the United States, on 26 December 2012 in Australia, and on 11 January 2013 in the UK. The film received divided, but generally favourable reviews, with many critics praising the cast, with Jackman, Hathaway, Redmayne, and Barks being the most often singled out for praise. Crowe's and Seyfried's performances were less favorably received, however. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Jackman and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for Hathaway. It has also won four BAFTA Awards, including the Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Hathaway). It received eight Academy Award nominations including Best Picture (the first musical nominated since 2002's winner Chicago) and Best Actor for Jackman, and won three, for Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway.
In 1815, convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole by prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) after serving a nineteen-year sentence for stealing a loaf of bread and numerous escape attempts. Valjean is driven out of every town, because of his paroled status. He is offered food and shelter by the Bishop of Digne (Colm Wilkinson), but steals his silver during the night. He is captured by the authorities, but the Bishop informs them that the silver was given as a gift, then gives him even more, securing Valjean's release. Moved by the Bishop's grace, Valjean breaks his parole, vowing to start an honest life helping others under a new identity.
Eight years later, in 1823 Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine (Anne Hathaway), one of his workers, is discovered to be sending money to her illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen), who lives with the unscrupulous Thénardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen) and their daughter Éponine (Natalya Wallace), and is dismissed by the foreman. In a desperate attempt to support her daughter, she sells her hair and teeth, eventually becoming a prostitute. She is arrested by Javert after she attacks an abusive customer, but is saved by Valjean, who has her hospitalized. Later, Valjean learns that a man believed to be him has been arrested. Unable to accept that an innocent man is condemned in his place, Valjean reveals his identity to the court at the man's trial. Returning to the hospital, he promises the dying Fantine he will look after her daughter. Javert arrives to take Valjean into custody, but after a brief confrontation, Valjean jumps into a river to escape. He pays the Thénardiers to allow him to take Cosette, and promises to be like a father to her. Valjean and Cosette flee to Paris. Javert swears he will bring the escaped convict to justice.
Nine years later, in 1832, there is increasing poverty in Paris. Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only government official sympathetic towards the poor, is nearing death; therefore a large group of teenage revolutionary students, known as the Friends of the ABC, plan a rebellion against the French monarchy. The students consist of Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne), Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), Courfeyrac (Fra Fee), and Joly (Hugh Skinner).
Marius later catches a glimpse of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), now a young woman, and instantly falls in love with her. Meanwhile, despite Cosette's questioning, Valjean refuses to talk about his past or her mother. At a wine shop, Enjolras organises a group of idealistic students as Lamarque's death is announced.
Meanwhile, Éponine (Samantha Barks), Marius' friend, leads him to Cosette, where the two profess their love for one another. Lamenting that her secret love for Marius will never be reciprocated, Éponine fatalistically decides to join the revolution.
When a gang led by Thénardier attempts to capture Valjean for ransom to Javert, Éponine screams to warn Valjean and Cosette; Valjean decides to flee, unaware of Cosette's desire for Marius. As they leave, Enjolras rallies the Parisians to revolt, and Marius sends a farewell letter to Cosette. The next day, the students interrupt Lamarque's funeral procession and begin their revolt. Javert poses as a rebel in order to spy on them, but is quickly exposed by Gavroche and captured. During the ensuing gunfight, Éponine saves Marius at the cost of her own life, professing her love to him before she dies in his arms. Valjean, intercepting the letter from Marius to Cosette, goes to the barricade to protect Marius. After saving Enjolras from a sniper, he is allowed to execute Javert. However, when the two are alone, Valjean frees Javert instead, telling him to run as he fires his pistol at a wall to convince the students he killed him.
With the Parisians not joining the revolution as the students expected, they resolve to fight to the death. Everyone is killed but Marius, who is saved when Valjean drags his unconscious body into the sewers. Thénardier, scavenging the dead bodies, steals Marius's ring. Valjean escapes the sewers carrying Marius, but is confronted at the exit by Javert. Valjean begs for one last hour to take Marius to a doctor; Javert initially refuses and threatens to shoot him if he does not give up. Valjean ignores him and leaves to save Marius. Unable to reconcile the conflict between his civil and moral duties, two things which he always considered the same, Javert jumps to his death into the Seine.
Later, Marius mourns for his friends but Cosette comforts him. Revealing his past to Marius, Valjean tells him he must leave because his presence endangers Cosette. Marius reluctantly accepts Valjean's decision to leave, and promises that he will not tell Cosette the truth. Marius and Cosette marry; the Thénardiers crash the reception and testify they saw Valjean carrying a murdered corpse through the sewers. Thénardier unwittingly shows Marius the ring that he stole from him as "proof". Recognising the ring, Marius realises it was Valjean who saved his life. Told of Valjean's location by Thénardier, Marius and Cosette depart to find him. As Valjean sits dying in a local convent, he perceives Fantine's spirit arriving to take him to Heaven. Cosette and Marius rush in to bid farewell. Valjean hands Cosette his confession of his past life and joins the spirits of the Bishop, Fantine, Enjolras, Éponine, Gavroche, Courfeyrac, Joly and the other rebels who fought at the barricades.
|Hugh Jackman||Jean Valjean|
|Eddie Redmayne||Marius Pontmercy|
|Isabelle Allen||Young Cosette|
|Colm Wilkinson||Bishop Myriel|
|Helena Bonham Carter||Madame Thénardier|
|Sacha Baron Cohen||Thénardier|
|Alistair Brammer||Jean Prouvaire|
|Hadley Fraser||National Guard Leader|
|Heather Chasen||Madame Magloire|
|Georgie Glen||Mademoiselle Baptistine|
Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean, a Frenchman released from Toulon prison after 19 years of imprisonment for stealing bread and failed attempts at escaping from the prison.  Around June 2011, Jackman met with producer Cameron Mackintosh to audition in New York. To prepare for the role, Jackman lost 15 pounds and later regained 30 pounds to mirror his character's success.  He avoided drinking coffee, warmed up at least 15 minutes every day, kept Ricola lozenges, drank as much as seven litres of water per day, sat in steam three times a day, took cold baths and used a wet washcloth over his face while flying, citing the musical's original co-director Trevor Nunn for his training. He worked extensively with vocal coach Joan Lader, and managed to extend his vocal range, which he originally categorized a high Baritone, up to Tenor.
Russell Crowe stars as Javert, a police inspector dedicating his life to imprisoning Valjean once again. Before being cast Javert, Crowe was initially dissatisfied with the character. On his way to Europe for a friend's wedding, Crowe came to London and met with producer Cameron Mackintosh. On meeting with Tom Hooper, he told the director about his concerns about playing Javert, and after meeting with him, Crowe was "determined to be involved in the project and play Javert. I think it had something to do with Tom's passion for what he was about to undertake, and he clearly understood the problems and he clearly understood the challenge." On visiting Victor Hugo's home in Paris, Crowe said, "[The house's curator] told me about [19th century detective Eugene Francois] Vidocq, a man who had been both a prisoner and a policeman, the man credited with inventing undercover police work when he established the Brigade de Surete."
Anne Hathaway played Fantine, and Amanda Seyfried played Cosette. Fantine is a struggling factory worker and mother of an illegitimate child, Cosette, who is kept by the Thénardiers until Valjean buys her from them. At the 83rd Academy Awards which Hathaway and James Franco hosted, Hathaway sang a small parody of "On My Own", a famous song from the musical, about Hugh Jackman who would not do a song with her during the broadcast.
When Hathaway was cast, she stated, "There was resistance because I was between their ideal ages for the parts—maybe not mature enough for Fantine but past the point where I could believably play Cosette." On developing Cosette, Seyfried said, "In the little time that I had to explain Cosette and give the audience a reason [to see her] a symbol of love and strength and light in this tragedy, I needed to be able to convey things you may not have connected with in the show." A vocal coach was enlisted to help her with the songs. Isabelle Allen plays Cosette a child. On working with her fellow actors, Allen said, "They gave us lots of tips and mostly [made] sure we were all OK. They were really nice."
Eddie Redmayne plays Marius Pontmercy, a student revolutionary who is friends with the Thenardiers' daughter, Éponine, but falls in love with Cosette. He found director Hooper's vision "incredibly helpful". On collaborating with Hooper, Redmayne said, "He was incredibly collaborative. Certainly during the rehearsal process, we sat with Tom and the Victor Hugo book adding things." It was Redmayne who suggested to Hooper that his character's song, "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables", should begin a cappella (without musical accompaniment) in order to better express Marius' loneliness and longing.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen play the Thénardiers, a pair of swindling innkeepers. Hooper previously collaborated with Bonham Carter in The King's Speech, in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter previously co-starred in the film adaptation of the musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. When Baron Cohen accepted the role Thénardier, he had to abandon Django Unchained.
Samantha Barks played Éponine, the Thénardiers' daughter. Having previously played the role at the 25th Anniversary concert and in the West End production, Barks said "there was similarities in playing the role—they're the same character—but Eponine in the novel and Eponine in the musical are two kind of different girls, so to me it was the thrill of merging those two together, to get something that still had that heart and soul that we all connect to in the musical, but also the awkward, self-loathing teenager that we see in the novel, trying to merge those two together." She found Jackman "fascinating to learn from, and I feel like that's the way it should be done".
Aaron Tveit portrayed Enjolras, the leader of Les Amis de l'ABC. Hoping to play Marius, Tveit submitted an audition tape in which he sang "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and "In My Life". He had never performed any role in the musical. He also said that "once I got more and more familiar with the material and when I read the novel, I was like, 'Wow this is a really, really great role,' and I felt very much better suited for it." Tveit said the shooting of the film was "almost grueling a marathon".
Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle, two of the original cast members involved in the Broadway and West End productions of the English version (as Jean Valjean and Éponine, respectively), make appearances. Wilkinson plays the Bishop of Digne, while Ruffelle plays a prostitute. West End star Hadley Fraser, who previously played Grantaire in the 25th Anniversary Concert and Javert at West End, also makes a cameo the Army General. Another West End star, Gina Beck, makes a cameo appearance one of the "Turning Women". Michael Jibson plays the foreman of the factory in which Fantine works and is fired from.
Several actors in the West End production of the musical appear members of the student society, including George Blagden Grantaire; Killian Donnelly Combeferre; Fra Fee Courfeyrac; Alistair Brammer Jean Prouvaire; Hugh Skinner Joly; Gabriel Vick Feuilly; Iwan Lewis Bahorel; and Stuart Neal Lesgles. Blagden was cast in January 2012. Other stage actors including Hannah Waddingham, Daniel Evans and Kerry Ellis have small parts in the film along with actors who previously starred in various productions of Les Misérables.
A highlights soundtrack album was released via Universal Republic on 21 December 2012. On 25 January 2013, Republic Records confirmed via Twitter that a 2-disc deluxe soundtrack was in production alongside the DVD and Blu-ray; it was released on 19 March 2013.
The film contains every song from the original stage musical itself with the exception of "I Saw Him Once" and "Dog Eats Dog", however many songs have been partially or extensively cut. "The Attack on Rue Plumet" and "Little People" were especially shortened. In addition, the Bishop sings with Fantine during "Valjean's Death" instead of Eponine, as was in the stage musical. The lyrics of some songs were also changed to suit the changes in setting or narrative to the stage musical. In addition to the cuts, a new song, "Suddenly" was added, new music was composed for the battle scenes, and the order of several songs has changed from the stage musical.
- "Look Down" – Convicts, Javert, Valjean†§
- "On Parole" – Valjean, Bishop of Digne
- "The Bishop" – Bishop of Digne†§
- "Valjean's Soliloquy" – Valjean†§
- "At the End of the Day" – Poor, Foreman, Workers, Factory Women, Fantine, Valjean†§
- "The Runaway Cart" – Valjean, Javert
- "The Docks (Lovely Ladies)" – Sailors, Old Woman, Fantine, Crone, Whores, Pimp, Toothman§
- "I Dreamed a Dream" – Fantine†§
- "Fantine's Arrest" – Bamatabois, Fantine, Javert, Valjean§
- "Who Am I?" – Valjean§
- "Fantine's Death" – Fantine, Valjean§
- "The Confrontation" – Javert, Valjean†§
- "Castle on a Cloud" – Young Cosette, Mme. Thénardier†§
- "Master of the House" – Thénardier, Mme. Thénardier, Inn Patrons†§
- "The Well Scene" – Valjean, Young Cosette§
- "The Bargain" – Valjean, Thénardier, Mme. Thénardier§
- "The Thénardier Waltz of Treachery" – Thénardier, Valjean, Mme. Thénardier, Young Cosette
- "Suddenly" – Valjean†§
- "The Convent" – Valjean§
- "Stars" – Javert§
- "Paris/Look Down" – Gavroche, Beggars, Enjolras, Marius, Students§
- "The Robbery" – Thénardier, Mme. Thénardier, Éponine, Valjean§
- "Javert's Intervention" – Javert, Thénardier§
- "Éponine's Errand" – Éponine, Marius
- "ABC Café/Red and Black" – Students, Enjolras, Marius, Grantaire, Gavroche†§
- "In My Life" – Cosette, Valjean, Marius, Éponine§
- "A Heart Full of Love" – Marius, Cosette, Éponine†§
- "The Attack on Rue Plumet" – Thénardier, Thieves, Éponine
- "On My Own" – Éponine†§
- "One Day More" – Valjean, Marius, Cosette, Éponine, Enjolras, Javert, Thénardier, Mme. Thénardier, Cast of Les Misérables†§
- "Do You Hear the People Sing?" – Enjolras, Students, Beggars§
- "Building the Barricade (Upon These Stones)" – Enjolras, Javert, Gavroche, Students§
- "Javert's Arrival" – Javert, Enjolras§
- "Little People" – Gavroche, Students, Enjolras, Javert§
- "The First Attack" – Orchestra§
- "A Little Fall of Rain" – Éponine, Marius§
- "Night of Anguish" – Enjolras, Marius, Valjean, Javert, Students
- "Drink With Me" – Grantaire, Marius, Gavroche, Students†§
- "Bring Him Home" – Valjean†§
- "Dawn of Anguish" – Enjolras, Gavroche, Students§
- "The Second Attack" (Death of Gavroche) – Gavroche, Students§
- "The Final Battle" – Orchestra†§
- "The Sewers" – Valjean, Javert§
- "Javert's Suicide" – Javert†§
- "Turning" – Parisian women§
- "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" – Marius†§
- "A Heart Full of Love [Reprise]" – Marius, Cosette, Valjean, Gillenormand
- "Valjean's Confession" – Valjean, Marius§
- "Suddenly [Reprise]" – Marius, Cosette§
- "Wedding Chorale" – Chorus, Marius, Thérnardier, Mme. Thérnardier§
- "Beggars at the Feast" – Thénardier, Mme. Thénardier§
- "Valjean's Death" – Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Bishop of Digne†§
- "Do You Hear the People Sing? [Reprise]" – The Cast of Les Misérables†§
- "End Credits Suite" – Orchestra
- † Included on the highlights edition soundtrack
- § Included on the deluxe edition soundtrack
In 1992, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that the film would be co-produced by TriStar Pictures. However, the film was abandoned. In 2005, Mackintosh later confirmed that interest in turning the musical into a film adaptation had resumed during the early months of that year. Mackintosh said that he wanted the film to be directed by "someone who has a vision for the show that will put the show's original team, including [Mackintosh], back to work." He also said that he wanted the film audiences to make it "fresh as the actual show [itself]." In 2009, producer Eric Fellner began negotiations with Mackintosh to acquire the film's rights and concluded it near the end of 2011. Fellner, Tim Bevan, and Debra Hayward engaged William Nicholson to write a screenplay for the film. Nicholson wrote the draft within six weeks time.
In March 2011, director Tom Hooper began negotiations to direct Les Misérables from the screenplay by William Nicholson. Production on the film officially began in June that year, with Cameron Mackintosh and Working Title Films co-producing. Having already approached Hooper prior to production with the desire of playing Jean Valjean, Hugh Jackman began negotiations to star in the film alongside Paul Bettany as Javert. Other stars who became attached to the project included Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.
In September 2011, Jackman was officially cast as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe was cast as Javert. The following month, Mackintosh confirmed that Fantine would be played by Hathaway. Before Hathaway was cast, Amy Adams, Jessica Biel, Tammy Blanchard, Kristin Kreuk, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Rebecca Hall had reportedly been considered for the part. For the role, Hathaway allowed her hair to be cut short into a pixie cut on camera for a scene in which her character sells her hair, stating that the lengths she goes to for her roles "don't feel like sacrifices. Getting to transform is one of the best parts of [acting]." The role also required her to lose 25 pounds.
In November 2011, Eddie Redmayne joined the cast as Marius Pontmercy. It was reported that the shortlist of actresses for the role of Éponine included Scarlett Johansson (who also auditioned for the role of Fantine), Lea Michele, Tamsin Egerton, Taylor Swift, and Evan Rachel Wood.
In January 2012, the press reported that Taylor Swift had been officially offered the role of Éponine but Swift later stated that those reports were not entirely accurate. At the end of the month, Mackintosh made a special appearance during the curtain call of the Oliver! UK tour at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, announcing that the tour's Nancy, Samantha Barks, who had played Éponine in the West End production and in the 25th Anniversary concert, would reprise the role in the film. Barks had been auditioning for 15 weeks by that point.
Originally, an unknown was sought for the role of Cosette, with an open casting call in New York City in December 2011. In January 2012, reports surfaced that Amanda Seyfried had been offered the role instead. Eddie Redmayne confirmed both Seyfried's casting and that of Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier in an interview on 12 January. Hooper confirmed that he would stick to the musical's essentially sung-through form and would thus introduce very little additional dialogue. Hooper confirmed that the film would not be shot in 3D, expressing his opinion that it would not enhance the emotional narrative of the film and would distract audiences from the storytelling.
Following this announcement, reports surfaced in the press that Sacha Baron Cohen had begun talks to join the cast as Thénardier and that Aaron Tveit had been cast as Enjolras. Later that month, the press officially confirmed Tveit's casting as Enjolras. Colm Wilkinson and Frances Ruffelle (the original Valjean and Éponine, respectively, in the West End and Broadway productions) appeared in the film. Wilkinson played the Bishop of Digne, and Ruffelle had a cameo as a prostitute. George Blagden was cast as Grantaire. In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Front Row, Tom Hooper revealed that Claude-Michel Schönberg will be composing one new song and additional music. The director also expanded on the performers singing live on set, which he felt would eliminate the need to recapture "locked" performances and allow more creative freedom. More details of this were confirmed by Eddie Redmayne in an interview. He stated that the cast would sing to piano tracks (via earpiece) and that the orchestra would be added in post-production.
In February 2012, casting auditions involving extras for the film took place at the University of Portsmouth and Chatham Maritime in Chatham. Several days later, Mackintosh officially confirmed that Bonham Carter would play Madame Thénardier. He also announced that the title of the newly created song for the film is "Suddenly" and that it "beautifully explains what happens when Valjean takes Cosette from the inn and looks after her." At the end of the month, The Sun reported that the long-rumoured Baron Cohen had been cast in the role of Monsieur Thénardier.
The cast began rehearsals in January 2012, with principal photography due to begin in March. The press officially confirmed Baron Cohen's casting during the latter month. No table read took place before filming.
With a production budget of $61 million, principal photography of the film began on 8 March 2012 in Gourdon. Filming locations in England included Winchester College, Winchester Cathedral Close, Her Majesty's Naval Base Portsmouth, Chatham Dockyard, St Mary the Virgin Church, Ewelme, South Oxfordshire and Pinewood Studios. In April 2012, a replica of the Elephant of the Bastille was constructed in Greenwich. In the novel, Gavroche lives in the decaying monument. Footage of Hathaway singing "I Dreamed a Dream", a song from the musical, was shown at CinemaCon on 26 April 2012. On 5 June 2012, Russell Crowe confirmed on Twitter that he had finished filming. He was later followed by Samantha Barks, confirming that all of her scenes had too been completed. On 23 June 2012, Jackman stated that all filming had been completed. Some late filming was carried out in Bath, Somerset, in October 2012 where stunt shots for Javert's suicide scene had to be reshot due to an error found with this footage during post-production. Bath was not the original filming location for this scene, but the late footage was captured at Pulteney Weir.
The film's vocals were recorded live on set using live piano accompaniments played through earpieces as a guide, with the orchestral accompaniment recorded in post-production, rather than the traditional method where the film's musical soundtracks are usually pre-recorded and played back on set to which actors lip-sync. Production sound mixer Simon Hayes used 50 DPA 4071 lavalier microphones to record the vocals. Hooper explained his choice:
|“||I just felt ultimately, it was a more natural way of doing it. You know, when actors do dialogue, they have freedom in time, they have freedom in pacing. They can stop for a moment, they can speed up. I simply wanted to give the actors the normal freedoms that they would have. If they need a bit for an emotion or a feeling to form in the eyes before they sing, I can take that time. If they cry, they can cry through a song. When you're doing it to playback, to the millisecond you have to copy what you do. You have no freedom in the moment – and acting is the illusion of being free in the moment.||”|
Although this unique live recording method has been stated as "a world's first" by the creative team, several film musicals have used this method before, including early talkies, as lip-syncing wasn't perfected, the 1975 20th Century Fox film At Long Last Love and more recently in the 1995 adaptation of The Fantasticks,in the 2001 film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and in the 2007 film Across the Universe with songs by The Beatles.
On 27 August 2012, it was announced that recording sessions for Les Misérables would begin in London on 10 October and featured a 70-piece orchestra. It was also announced that composer Claude-Michel Schönberg was working on writing additional music to underscore the film. On 9 September 2012, Universal Studios executives were granted a viewing of the rough cut of the film without the orchestra. The cut was greeted with "extreme excitement".
On 20 September 2012, an extended first look was released on the film's official Facebook page. This short introduces and explains Hooper's method of recording vocals live on set, and compares it to the traditional method of pre-recording the vocals in a studio months in advance. Hugh Jackman stated that filming in this way allows him more creative freedom with the material and that he "only has to worry about acting it." Both Hooper and the actors believe that this choice of production method will make the film feel much more emotional, raw, and real. The actors praised Hooper for his method and provide brief interviews throughout the video. Hooper mentions, "I thought it was an amazing opportunity to do something genuinely groundbreaking." Clips of Jackman, Hathaway, Seyfried, Redmayne and Barks singing were received very positively, especially the teaser trailer's presentation of "I Dreamed a Dream" by Hathaway. On 24 September 2012, a new poster for the film was released on the film's official Facebook page. The poster featured young Cosette, played by Isabelle Allen. Posters featuring Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, and Cosette were later released on 12 October, with further posters of Thénardiers and Marius released on 1 November 2012.
Les Misérables was originally going to be released on 7 December 2012 before it was moved to 14 December; however, on 18 September 2012, the film's release date was moved back to 25 December, so as not to conflict with the opening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opened on 14 December. Because of this, it opened alongside Django Unchained. Release date for the United Kingdom was 11 January 2013.
On 23 November 2012, Les Misérables was screened for the first time at the Lincoln Center in New York City, which received a standing ovation from the crowd. This was followed by a screening the next day in Los Angeles, which also received positive reviews.
Les Misérables premiered on 5 December 2012, at the Empire, Leicester Square in London. Red carpet footage was screened live online in an event hosted by Michael Ball, the original Marius of the West End. The film was released in select IMAX theatres in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Montreal the same day as its domestic theatrical release on 25 December 2012. Les Misérables was released internationally by IMAX theatres on 10 January 2013.
The film is confirmed for home release on 13 May 2013 on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD in the United Kingdom; it was released in the United States on 22 March 2013. The DVD contains three featurettes: The Stars of Les Misérables, Creating the Perfect Paris, and The Original Masterwork: Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, along with an audio commentary from director Tom Hooper. The Blu-ray has all DVD features including four additional featurettes: Les Misérables Singing Live, Battle at the Barricade, The West End Connection, and Les Misérables On Location.
As of April 2013, Les Misérables earned $148,809,770 in North America and $288,900,696 in other territories for a worldwide total of $437,710,466. In North America, Les Misérables opened on 25 December 2012 in 2,808 theatres placing first at the box office with $18.1 million. This amount broke the record for the highest opening day gross for a musical film, previously held by High School Musical 3: Senior Year, and was also the second highest opening day gross for a film released on Christmas Day. It earned $27.3 million in its opening weekend, placing third behind Django Unchained and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on 11 January 2013 and earned £8.1 ($13.1) million in its opening weekend, making it the largest opening weekend for a musical film, as well as Working Title.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 69% approval rating with an average rating of 7/10, based on an aggregation of 225 reviews. It offers the consensus: "Impeccably mounted but occasionally bombastic, Les Misérables largely succeeds thanks to bravura performances from its distinguished cast."  On Metacritic, the film achieved an average score of 63 out of 100 based on 41 reviews, signifying "generally favorable reviews". The film was generally praised for its acting and ensemble cast, with several performances being singled out for praise. The live singing, which was heavily promoted in marketing for the film, received a more divided response. The lack of humor, cinematography, and Crowe's performance were criticized.
Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph gave the film five stars: "Les Misérables is a blockbuster, and the special effects are emotional: explosions of grief; fireballs of romance; million-buck conflagrations of heartbreak. Accordingly, you should see it in its opening week, on a gigantic screen, with a fanatical crowd."
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw concurred: "Even as a non-believer in this kind of "sung-through" musical, I was battered into submission by this mesmeric and sometimes compelling film ...". Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave a positive review, saying that the film "is a clutch player that delivers an emotional wallop when it counts. You can walk into the theater as an agnostic, but you may just leave singing with the choir." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, "Besides being a feast for the eyes and ears, Les Misérables overflows with humor, heartbreak, rousing action and ravishing romance. Damn the imperfections, it's perfectly marvelous."
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said, "As the enduring success of this property has shown, there are large, emotionally susceptible segments of the population ready to swallow this sort of thing, but that doesn't mean it's good."
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote: "[Director Tom] Hooper can be very good with actors. But his inability to leave any lily ungilded—to direct a scene without tilting or hurtling or throwing the camera around—is bludgeoning and deadly. By the grand finale, when tout le monde is waving the French tricolor in victory, you may instead be raising the white flag in exhausted defeat."
Justin Chang of Variety wrote that the film "will more than satisfy the show's legions of fans." Chang praised the performances of Jackman, Hathaway, Barks, Tveit and Seyfried (i.e., every leading cast member except Crowe and Redmayne) but said that the film's editing "seems reluctant to slow down and let the viewer simply take in the performances."
Callum Marsh of Slant Magazine gave the film 1 star, and wrote: "Flaws—and there are a great many that would have never made the cut were this a perfectible studio recording—are conveniently swept under the rug of candid expression ... the worst quality of Les Misérables's live singing is simply that is puts too much pressure on a handful of performers who frankly cannot sing.... Fisheye lenses and poorly framed close-ups abound in Les Misérables, nearly every frame a revelation of one man's bad taste ... One would be hard-pressed to describe this, despite the wealth of beauty on display, as anything but an ugly film, shot and cut ineptly. Everything in the film, songs included, is cranked to 11, the melodrama of it all soaring. So it's odd that this kind of showboating maximalism should be ultimately reduced to a few fisheye'd faces, mugging for their close-up, as the people sing off-key and broken." The Chicago Tribune critic Michael Philips gave the film only one and a half stars, writing: "The camera bobs and weaves like a drunk, frantically. So you have hammering close-ups, combined with woozy insecurity each time more than two people are in the frame. ...too little in this frenzied mess of a film registers because Hooper is trying to make everything register at the same nutty pitch."
Specific performances were reviewed very positively. Anne Hathaway's performance of ballad "I Dreamed a Dream" was met with praise, with many comparing its showstopper-like quality to Jennifer Hudson's performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. Christopher Orr from The Atlantic wrote that "Hathaway gives it everything she has, beginning in quiet sorrow before building to a woebegone climax: she gasps, she weeps, she coughs. If you are blown away by the scene—as many will be; it will almost certainly earn Hathaway her first Oscar—this may be the film for you." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post writes that "The centerpiece of a movie composed entirely of centerpieces belongs to Anne Hathaway, who as the tragic heroine Fantine sings another of the memorable numbers". Joy Tipping from Dallas Morning News described Hathaway's performance as "angelic".
Claudia Puig from USA Today describes her as "superb as the tragic Fantine". Travers felt that "A dynamite Hathaway shatters every heart when she sings how 'life has killed the dream I dreamed.' Her volcanic performance has Oscar written all over it." Lou Lumenick, critic for the New York Post, wrote that the film is "worth seeing for Hathaway alone". She was widely considered to be the frontrunner for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, ultimately winning it.
Eddie Redmayne has also received considerable praise for his performance with Bloomberg News saying that "Eddie Redmayne—most recently seen as the eager young production assistant in My Week with Marilyn—delivers by far the most moving and memorable performance in the film as the young firebrand Marius, who, along with his fellow students, is caught up in France's political upheavals in the 19th century."
Samantha Barks earned praise for her portrayal of Éponine, with Digital Journal saying: "Samantha Barks plays Éponine with such grace, sweetness, and sadness that it is hard to imagine anyone else in the role", while Claudia Puig of USA Today calls her "heartbreakingly soulful", Richard Roeper of The Chicago Sun-Times describes her performance as "star-making", and Roger Friedman of Showbiz411.com says she "just about steals the film".
In 2013, the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including the Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Hugh Jackman, and went on to win in three categories: Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Sound Mixing.
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- Official website
- Les Misérables: information about the film and novel.
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