My Journey with the Les Mis Movie

As many musical fanatics know, there is always a way you become a fan of a musical. It is either by songs, stage, or film. Where did my love of Les Mis begin? It was by the musical movie.

I first saw the Les Mis film in December 2012. I came into the film with a very slim knowledge. I knew of the song, “I Dreamed a Dream”. I barely knew the plot. I knew of the actresses, Amanda Seyfried and Anne Hathaway. I was unsure coming into the film- I only went to listen to “I Dreamed a Dream”. Right after Fantine died, I came to a realization- Les Mis is a tragedy. I was shocked and confused after realizing that. After all, I never knew musicals could be tragic. I did not know how to exactly respond. By the end of the film, I did have “Do you Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head, but at the same time, I did not know if I liked Les Mis. So I had a rocky start to Les Mis. I was NOT an emotional wreck watching Les Mis this time around.

Fantine singing "I Dreamed a Dream" during the film, Les Mis

Despite not knowing if I liked Les Mis, I started researching the musical. I also wanted to listen to the songs on Pandora. I have no idea why I wanted to do that.

March 2013- I don’t why I did this, but I decided to watch the film a 2nd time. Due to knowing the film’s tragic nature, I was able to calm down. I got so much more out of it. This time around, I truly became a fan of Les Mis. By the end, I felt uplifted. I was thinking “why would such a tragic musical make you feel uplifted?”. So I continued researching it. By Summer 2013, I was officially obsessed with Les Mis. I know the 2nd time was when I began to have a beautiful bond to Eponine; I have no idea when I began to have an emotional connection to the other characters I have an emotional connection to. If I didn’t give the film a 2nd chance, I never would have a Les Mis fan.

Eponine singing "On My Own" during the film, Les Mis

Summer 2013- I think my family was on vacation in Florida, and we were in target in the DVD section. My mom told me, will you find it? I did not know what she was talking about at first. She told me- you know what I am talking about. I realized- my mom was talking about Les Mis. My emotional response to the film grew over time.

Present- now it is 2019, and I have watched the film so many times. Now, I have to buy another copy of the film. Usually in that amount of time, I don’t wear out a DVD. I still am an emotional wreck watching it. This film was why I love Les Mis, which led to my obsession with Les Mis. Without the film, Les Mis wouldn’t have been in my life.

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Uniqueness of Each Musical Year

I thought this would be an interesting post idea.

One of the most fascinating things about being a musical theatre fanatic is just how different each musical year is. That is because the musicals you see vary, and the same is for just how many musicals you see. Some years you might see just two musicals or three or four or five. The number has to do with where you live, can you afford them, the months you see them and where exactly you see them (as in community college/ regional/local theater, West End/Broadway, and tours plus the city).

Major and Minor Spoilers

If you think about it, the shows vary a lot. In 2018, all I saw were happy musicals- Oklahoma, Grease, Newsies, Lion King, and A Christmas Story. At the same time, they still came with their more serious and emotional (as in sad and heartbreaking. After all, Newsies is home to “Santa Fe” and “Letter from the Refuge” and Lion King does have Mufasa’s death, which did get to me and “Endless Night”. I ended up seeing these musicals in June, July, September, and December.

Crutchie during "Letter from the Refuge"

2017, on the other hand was highly different. Instead of being home to all happy musicals, I started with a horror comedy, Little Shop of Horrors, and ended on the more sad side of things- Rent and Les Mis. These were one college production and two tours- one in Charlotte and one in Greenville. So in 2017, I was an emotional wreck twice- both Rent and Les Mis gave me an emotional wreck twice. This set of musicals ended up being in February, September, and November.

Joshua Grosso singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" at the 25th Anniversary Production- US Tour

So you see, two different years, but still so different. So every single musical year is so different. You might have one year will all happy musicals. Still, I have never found a year where there has never been at least one sad or heartbreaking moment in at least one musical. After all, the five core emotions are excitement, joy, love, sad, and heartbreak. If I broke down year after year after 2012 to now, it would take forever. So I was just giving you an idea.

The Uniqueness of Bittersweet Musical Theatre Songs

Two days ago, I analyzed “For Good” and a few days before that, I analyzed “A Little Fall of Rain”. There is something in common between both of those songs- they fall under the category of bittersweet songs. There is something touching and moving about those types of songs. What exactly makes a musical theatre song bittersweet?

MAJOR SPOILERS:

A bittersweet song is usually one of those “goodbye” type of songs. They tend to have a combination of joy and sad. Some are much sadder than other- some fall under the category of devastating. All bittersweet songs have joy and happiness in them. It can be very hard to describe why those songs have joy and happiness in them due to the sad part of them. The more devastating bittersweet songs are the hardest songs to describe the joy. You have to understand the characters to understand why the songs are bittersweet in the first place. I will use “For Good” and “A Little Fall of Rain” to bring up what I am talking about.

Elphaba and Glinda at "For Good" during a production of Wicked
“For Good”

“For Good” is a song that happens towards the end of Wicked. This is the song where Elphaba and Glinda realize that they have to part ways. Elphaba is the only friend that has truly mattered to Glinda, and Glinda was Elphaba’s only friend. It is sad in the fact that they will never see each other again, but joyful in the fact that they are able to tell each other what they meant to each other. It is the most emotional moment in Wicked. It hits you harder than the heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl”.

Eponine dying in Marius' arms during "A Little Fall of Rain" in the film
“A Little Fall of Rain”

Now, “A Little Fall of Rain” is more devastating. It is Eponine’s death scene- you might be thinking, how can a death scene be bittersweet. Eponine is dying in Marius’ arms. You have to understand Eponine’s life, and why Marius means something to her to understand why. Marius was the only person in her life who treated her kindly. Her parents, the Thenardiers, didn’t care about her and raised her to be a thief and criminal. Her life was dark- her only light was Marius- the only good thing in her life. She fell in love with him due to the kindness he showed her.

Back to the song. Leading up to “A Little Fall of Rain”, seeing that Marius was about to get shot, Eponine sacrifice herself to save Marius. She would do anything for him no matter the cost. The joy of the song comes from the fact that Marius was there with her, the only good thing her life. You do feel heartbroken for both of them- the fact that Eponine was dying and the fact that Marius was devastated, but at least he was there. Eponine got to die in the arms of the man she loved- there’s the joy right there. If you did not understand Eponine- you would not understand why this scene is bittersweet.

There is something touching, moving, and special about the bittersweet songs. I don’t know why the first songs that come to mind when I think of the bittersweet songs belong to “For Good” and “A Little Fall of Rain”. The bittersweet are some of the most emotional songs in musical theatre.

What are some your favorite musical theatre bittersweet song?

A Little Fall of Rain Analysis (Part 2)

MAJOR SPOILERS:

I have done an analysis on this song before. To understand this song is to understand Eponine. Before I describe what is going on in this song, I will talk about Eponine. Eponine is the eldest child of the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers have raised Eponine to be a thief and criminal. The family is living in extreme poverty. Eponine is all alone in life, and wasn’t shown kindness or love growing up from her family- so her life is quite dark and tragic.

There is only one good thing in her life- Marius. He is the only person who does treat her with kindness. That is why she loves him. However, he doesn’t know she loves him. He falls in love with Cosette. She will do anything for him. So she lives an empty life, but the light of her life is Marius so at least he is in her life.

Samantha Barks as Eponine performing "On My Own" in the movie
“On My Own” in the movie

Back to “A Little Fall of Rain”. In the stage show, a few scenes back, Marius has sent her away from the barricade in hopes to protect her from being hurt or worse killed. However Eponine does come back, which all leads to “A Little Fall of Rain”. She sacrifices her life to protect Marius from being killed. As a result, she was fatally wounded. Marius does not realize this at first, but soon does after she collapsed in his arms.

"A Little Fall of Rain": Marius and Eponine's duet from Les Mis. Eponine's death scene where Marius is with her until she dies. From the movie
“A Little Fall of Rain” scene from movie

Marius was devastated- he knew she was dying, but decided to stay with her. “A Little Fall of Rain” is a very touching, heartbreaking, and bittersweet song. By understanding how much Marius means to Eponine makes you understand why Eponine is happy in that scene- it does not make sense all because it is her death scene. It does show he truly did care, and how much compassion he was capable of. You feel heartbroken for both of them. In that scene, I am heartbroken that one of my favorite characters is dying, but at the same time feel joy for her knowing that Marius is there- she is comforted by him, and at the same time I feel heartbroken for Marius knowing how much pain he feels. It is hard watching that scene knowing that Marius is not going to just lose Eponine, but everyone else as well.

This song highlights the friendship quite well. It shows how Marius valued his friendship with her. Eponine was able to see that Marius did care about her. She knew in this scene that Marius was breaking, and this is when Eponine confessed that she loved him. After she died, he said to the students, “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. He knew she lived a dark and horrible life- at least he was with at her at the time of her death. Having him end the song alone is devastating- thinking about the rest of the trauma he has to go through.

At one point, I thought a musical song could never happen during a death scene. This scene sure proves that wrong. What are your thoughts on this song?

Les Mis Survivors

Like many people know, Les Mis is tragedy. That means, characters do die in Les Mis. At the same time, there are those that do survive. Les Mis is the “everybody dies” musical- there are four characters left in Les Mis. 

Spoilers: 

Thenardiers- These two characters are the true villains of Les Mis. They are abusive, despicable, greedy, and unloving. They only care about themselves- they are pick-pockets. They are the parents of Gavroche and Eponine. They kicked Gavroche out at quite a young age and raised Eponine to be a thief and criminal. They do not love their children and do not care that those two died at the barricade. They are two of the ones to survive in the end. In the book, they are not funny- HOWEVER, in the musical, they serve as comic relief- I am so glad that they serve that purpose because it is much-needed. 


Cosette- She is Fantine’s daughter, who becomes Valjean’s adopted daughter. I love her much more than those Thenardiers. She used to live with the Thenardiers. As a child, she was horribly abused by them having to work as a servant. She had a strong spirit as a child- having hope she will be rescued, and she was rescued by Jean Valjean. She was overprotected and sheltered by Jean Valjean- I don’t blame that for happening since they were always on the run from Javert. She becomes part of a love triangle between Marius, Eponine, and herself. She is the symbol of light and hope in this tragic. She is a wonderful character- it is such a shame that she is hated by so many people- I love her. It might seem like she has her happily ever after, but she lost her adopted father. All she has left is Marius, the love of her life. 

Marius-Just like Cosette, disliked for the most absurd of reasons. Of all the survivors, he is my favorite character. He is brave, awkward, compassionate, kind, and sweet. He might seem shallow on the surface, but he is a complex character. People don’t understand why he is oblivious to Eponine’s love for him: don’t forgot she never told him she loved him. He had a lot going on: he is a revolutionary and fell in love for the first time. People say he never treated Eponine fairly- once again I disagree- all because of the errands he asks Eponine to do. I believe at the beginning of act II, he sent her to deliver that letter in order to protect her from the uprising in hopes to prevent her from getting hurt or worse killed.  Compassion- I do see the compassion in Marius the most in “A Little of Rain”- this is Eponine’s death scene- Marius is there for her and never leaves her side in this moment-that is COMPASSION right there. By fighting at the barricade- that makes him brave. People also think he gets his happily ever after- think again- he lost all of his friends at the barricades- Eponine, Enjolras, Gavroche, and all the students died at the barricade. There is something about Marius’ awkward nature that makes him more charming. Marius and Cosette’s love for each other bring HOPE to this tragic tale- they are meant for each other. 

Unpopular Opinions in Musicals (Part 2)

I know I did an unpopular opinion on musicals before, but I decided to do it again. 

Major and Minor Spoilers:

No Hamilton Interest- many know I am a musical theatre fanatic. However, I have no interest in seeing Hamilton. I am listened to some songs on Youtube, but I have felt “meh” on them. If that happens, I never want to see the musical. So no way I want to see Hamilton. Many people respond by saying “but your’e a musical fan. 

Christine and Raoul- I love Christine and Raoul as a couple. I do not want it any other way. They are meant for each other. Phantom is too dangerous for Christine- he acts in revenge, is a murderer, and is destructive. So I am always a Christine and Raoul couple fan. 

Les Mis love triangle is not silly- You saw that right. The Les Mis plot line is so carefully planned that if you get rid of one plot line, the entire storyline falls apart. I love all three characters- with Eponine being my favorite character in the love triangle. Marius now is almost a core favorite character. Marius and Cosette are meant to be together and Eponine is meant to have the unrequited love especially because Cosette represents hope and light. After all, I am fascinated by the switch that happens between Eponine and Cosette. 

Love Marius and Eponine as friends- Yes, their friendship is NOT in the book. I love how it is in the musical. Marius never mistreats Eponine, and she always sees the kindness in him. His kindness moves her to fall in love with him. He is the only person to treat her with kindness- it is all she has in life. People think he did not treat her fairly- I disagree- he did treat her fairly. I know it seems that way when he asked her to do those errands for him. Look, at the barricade- I believe he sent her away with the letter to keep her safe from being hurt or worse KILLED. When he discovered she is dying- he stayed with her and held and comforted her- that is COMPASSION. I love them as friends- he never treated her unfairly. Without Marius in her life, she would not have any light- she needed him in her life even if he did not love her. I loved how he was with her at the time of her death- that was one of the happiest moments of her life. 

Want Marius and Cosette together- I want them together. They are perfect for each other. These two bring hope to the tale. By the end, all they have left is each other. Marius lost Eponine, Enjolras and the rest of this friends and Cosette lost her adopted father. I love the two of them together- I know people say “he should have been with Eponine”- I disagree”. I always wanted him with Cosette- once you understand why a love triangle is set up the way it is- you love it more. 

Marius is not a jerk- I HATE it when people call him a jerk. I did explain a lot of why he is not a jerk in an earlier unpopular opinion. He is kind, sweet, awkward and compassionate. If he was a jerk, Eponine and Cosette  NEVER would have fallen in love with him. He ended up fighting at the barricade- that shows an incredible act of bravery. At the beginning of act II, I believe he sent Eponine away with that letter to protect her from the uprising. His best act of compassion was at the time of Eponine’s death- he stayed with her till the end. He truly cared about her- it does show- he was devastated in that scene. He is not a jerk one bit- he is fully aware of Eponine situation- right after she died, he said to the students- “her name was Eponine, her was life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. If it wasn’t for Marius, Eponine’s life would not have a source of light period. 

“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” Analysis

Yes, another Les Mis post.

Major Spoilers:

Of all Les Mis solos, I believe “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is the most devastating (yes, you saw that right). It is Marius’ solo. It takes place after the rebellion, and Marius realizes he is the only survivor. He has lost of his friends: Eponine, Enjolras, and the rest of the students. All he has left is Cosette, the love of his life. In this song, he reflects on all the trauma he has had to deal with at the barricade. He is dealing with survivor’s guilt: he doesn’t understand why he survived- he almost wishes he died too- he doesn’t understand their sacrifice. He is devastated. Imagine having to be the only survivor and all you have left in your life is the one you love. Ouch.

Knowing that Marius is going to be the only survivor makes “Drink With Me”, and “Bring Him Home” more heartbreaking the 2nd time around.

Of all characters who do not die, Marius is my favorite character. He has become almost a core favorite character.

Picture Below: 25th anniversary staging of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”

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What are your thoughts on “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables? Plus, what are your thoughts on Marius?