(Note: this post will have copious spoilers for both the movie and the book, and assume you have seen one or the other.)
Okay, I finally saw the movie Les Miserables and it was totally wonderful!
I saw it right after embarking on -- and finishing -- a reread of the 1500-page brick! Normally, going back to the source text for me is a terrible idea when I see adaptations, but for this movie? It totally helped me appreciate the movie more! And after about the fifth time I said to my sister in reply to some point, "Ah, but you see, in the book --" she was all, "So, maybe you would like to write a post about this?" :)
In the movie, they interpolated a lot of lines that weren't in the original musical. (Note: I also have the Complete Symphonic Recording of the musical -- that is to say, I have the entire thing pretty much memorized, so I knew when they were adding stuff.) Most of these lines -- although sometimes they were kind of weird because they didn't have any meter, what happened there? -- to me, elucidated something that was drawn out in the book but wasn't clear in the musical, or contributed to further character development following the book.
Javert: Okay, do not even get me started on how I actually am very unhappy with both Crowe's singing (though, okay, whatever) and his interpretation of Javert (which is much more woobly than the book, in which Javert is quite a bit more harsh and unyielding and I DO NOT LIKE FILM JAVERT, although I do acknowledge that it is a perfectly valid interpretation and makes Javert more human! And see my notes on Marius! Though it makes his suicide a little more strange in context). However! There were lines added about how Javert wants to resign because he denounced M. le Maire as a convict, and I loved those added lines because it really does give Javert more character.
Valjean: I adored Hugh Jackman like anything! His interpolations: While I was not a huge fan of "Suddenly," the new song, as a standalone song, I really loved it because it brought out something that Hugo spends a great deal of time on in the book: the way that Valjean's life is transformed by having Cosette in it, that having something to love changes and redeems him. The other lovely thing was the couplet they gave him about how he has always feared the day a man would come to take Cosette away from him, because this is kind of a central conflict for Valjean in the book: that he has to save Marius despite, actually, loathing the guy (there's a line about how he's trudging through the sewers and gazing at Marius in hatred. It's awesome!) -- showing the struggles he has to go through.
Marius: Marius' character is basically completely different from the book, except that they're both lovesick kids. Marius in the book is extremely self-righteous and kind of a prig and actually not all that likeable. He basically talks to Eponine, like, once during the book, and doesn't know her at all. He doesn't consider any of the revolutionary college students his friends except for Courfeyrac. He is basically the cause of Valjean dying at the end (by giving him the cold shoulder once he finds out Valjean is a convict). I think Hugo had reasons for this, mind you! But in the movie, Marius is a nice kid who is friends with and cares about Eponine, who considers all the other students his friends and even his brothers. Normally (see Javert) I don't like changes in book canon, but here I love it, because movie Marius is quite a bit more likeable! (I know movie Javert is quite a bit more likeable too. Shut up.)
Eponine: Eponine, in the book, is a much more pathetic -- but also fascinating -- figure than in the musical. She is a street rat. She isn't pretty. She's ugly, dirty, has a raspy voice, is basically alive because it's too much trouble to die, but figures that one way or another that won't last long. She may or may not have something going on with Montparnasse (in addition to being in love with Marius). She tells Marius to go to the barricades (I think... this may happen in the movie too? Can't remember) because she figures this way if she can't have him, at least no one can have him -- but at the end is redeemed by her love for him. In the musical/movie, she doesn't get a whole lot to do besides be in love with Marius, but at least they gave a nod to her interior struggles in the movie, I think.
Cosette: I thought movie Cosette was pretty close to book Cosette, but neither gets a whole lot of screen time.
The Bishop of Digne: Looooooved that he showed up at the end; the book has a strong implication that the Bishop is present at Valjean's death, and thematically it makes a whole lot more sense than Eponine (although the trio with Eponine sounds really nice).
In conclusion, I LOVED THIS MOVIE SO MUCH!
What about you? Anyone else read the book? Did I forget to discuss anyone's favorite character?