Analysis of the Finale (Do You Hear the People Sing Reprise)

During the past two days, I have been working on a watercolor art project with my dad. It was inspired 100% by me and I knew I wanted it to be Les Mis themed and I actually did do about 95% of the work when painting. I found the picture in a page to screen Les Mis book that I had. It was hard to figure out how to create a gigantic crowd of people. In the case of the barricade, it took a while till it actually looked like a barricade. We first drew the buildings and the barricade in pencil and then inked on top and then painted them in. In the case of the barricade, it hardly looked like a barricade before it was painted. But as several kinds of brown were painted in, it finally was noticed as a barricade. This picture is from the finale of Les Mis in the movie of the musical.

Spoiler Alert:

To love another person is to see the face of God

Do you hear the people sing lost in the valley of the night. It is the music of the people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth there is flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will raise. They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord. They will walk behind the plough share. They will put away the sword. The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade who be strong and stand with me. Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?. Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes

Will you join in our crusade who be strong and stand with me. Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?. Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums? It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes…

Tomorrow comes

-Finale, Les Mis

fullsizeoutput_705This scene happens at the end of Les Mis. A few scenes back, Jean Valjean was dying and he died with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in law, by his side. The spirit of Fantine appeared thanking him for raising Cosette. Marius thanked Valjean for saving his life at the barricade and seeing her adopted father die, Cosette was quite devastated.

The sad part is that Jean Valjean died on the night of Cosette’s wedding and by the end, Cosette and Marius have lost everyone that meant something to them except for each other. Once Valjean dies, the spirit of Fantine escorts him to heaven and at the entrance the bishop welcomes him. Valjean lived his entire life through the example the bishop showed him. That is why he agreed to raise Cosette, why he turned himself in when an innocent man was believed to be Valjean, why he was able to forgive Javert and why he went to the barricades to rescue Marius. All of Valjean’s actions makes his redemption feel so strong in the end.

The song, “Do You Hear the People Sing” appears twice in the show. The first time it is shown as a revolutionary anthem of hope sung by all the students. But when sung a second time, the song is still hopeful, but in my opinion represents heaven. All of the people who died during the uprising reappear as spirits and so does Fantine. The ending is one of the biggest reasons why Les Mis makes you feel uplifted. Valjean’s redemption is so strong at the end and he is welcomed into the kingdom of God. The characters in Les Mis show hope, sacrifice, love, and forgiveness to others.

The students represent a hope for a better future for France. All of them sacrificed their lives for a love of France. Even Gavroche who is just a kid was heroic at the barricades even though he died as well. Both Fantine and Eponine showed love for the one they loved the most and sacrificed their happiness to protect the one that they loved. Fantine did everything she could for Cosette and Eponine protected Marius and did everything she could to make him happy. Even though the love for him was unrequited, she still sacrificed her life for him. In the movie version, Marius was about to get shot, but when Eponine noticed this, she got in the way and took the fatal shot herself. Even Valjean sacrificed his happiness for the sake of others. He loved Cosette so much that he was willing to go the barricade in order to protect Marius because Cosette loves him. Through all of these actions, it shows just how much Les Mis is inspirational and why it is ultimately about humanity.

As a matter of fact, Fantine, Eponine, Gavroche, Enjolras and the Students, and Valjean did not die alone. Fantine died knowing that Cosette was going to be in good hands since Valjean was by her side and promised that he would raise Cosette as his own. Eponine got to die in the arms of the man she loved and it actually was the happiest moment of her because she really lived a very empty life and felt unloved and she got to spend the last moments of her life in the arms of Marius. Gavroche, Enjolras and the students all died with each other.

The finale to Les Mis is one of the most powerful and one of the most perfect ways to end a musical. Right before the reprise begins, Valjean, the Bishop and Fantine all sing the famous lyrics, “to love another person is to see the face of God. Feeling uplifted during the reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing” makes you realize that feeling all of the misery and heartbreak was so worth it.

Becoming Open-Minded

What does it mean to be open-minded? In my opinion, it is giving something a chance. It means exploring something from a different perspective. Being open-minded always is worth it. I am aware it can be hard to be open-minded at times and end up with the wrong perspective. Sometimes I have been extremely close-minded to certain subjects and genres.

One of the biggest things I was so close-minded to was the genre of tragedy. In ninth grade, I discovered the genre for the very first time through Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Not only was I close-minded to tragedy, but also close-minded to Shakespeare. I automatically associated tragedies with sad and thought they were nothing more. All through high school, each time I had to read a tragedy, I ignored it and pushed it far back like it didn’t belong in theatre. I didn’t realize I was soon to learn that tragedies were way more then I thought they would be. Well, that happened in the most unexpected of ways, but glad I finally learned to love some of them.

When I went to see the movie of the musical, Les Mis, I came in not knowing what that title meant and already knew “I Dreamed a Dream”. I wasn’t even told that Les Mis was a tragedy, but glad I didn’t know or I wouldn’t have gone at all. I mainly decided to see the movie to listen to “I Dreamed a Dream”. I was quite unsure coming into the movie whether or not I would like it or not. The moment I realized Les Mis was a tragedy was after the first character died and I was so in shock. The rest of the movie I watched in shock not knowing how to respond. I was quite surprised that musicals are home to tragedies because I grew up believing that all musicals were comedies. It is true that most musicals are happy, but I learned how to call all musicals joyful.

But well if you think about it, it was so worth it not realizing Les Mis was a tragedy until I saw the movie. I decided to give the movie a second chance a couple of months after the first viewing, and this time I got way more out of it. The tragic moments were easier to handle because I already knew they were coming. That time around I started to realize there was something special about the emotional impact in Les Mis. I did want to know why this heartbreaking musical always ended in an uplifting way and decided to learn more. I realized that at its core is a story of love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption. From Les Mis, I learned the real value of tragedy and why the genre matters. So through Les Mis, I learned not to judge a book by its cover in terms of genre. The genre is not quite as important as the actual plot and characters.

So, try to be more open-minded. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Try to find value in things you just don’t want to give a chance. All because of Les Mis, I realized that I never should of been close-minded to tragedy in the first place. I try to see beyond the genre and figure out what it is at the very core of novels or anything else in literature. Besides Les Mis, there are other sad shows I learned to love. The others are Rent and La Bohème, but I do like West Side Story, but don’t love it.


Layers of Musicals

One of the most fascinating things about musicals is the many layers that they contain. The layers are part of the characters, plots, and the songs. In fact all three of those go hand in hand with each other.

The plots range from Cats, Singin’ in the Rain, Music Man, Sound of Music, South Pacific, Wicked, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, and Les Mis. These musicals do reflect that musicals come with many layers. On that list, plots start to become more complex once you reach “Sound of Music”. Not only is the plot strong, but so are the songs as well. I just discovered that sad is part of its score. However, heartbreak is part of Cats, but the thing is it hardly has a plot to begin with.

It is usually the most realistic plots where musical plot becomes strong. Another case is that they are home to excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak as well. Those five emotions are core emotions. If all five exist, then you have quite a strong musical and those are the ones that require the most vulnerability. From shows such as “South Pacific”, “Lion King”, “Phantom”, “Rent”, and “Les Mis”, you have all five of those emotions. But the difference is some of those are happy, while some are sad, but some have gotten stuck in the middle.

The layers from the plots come from the several topics that musicals cover. Those can be elements of light such as hope, compassion, friendship, etc. and elements of dark such as unrequited love, death, abuse, etc.

Even characters can have layers too. Some characters do not develop at all and really don’t have an arc. Some characters just are not that interesting to learn about because the character is way too simple. But even simple characters can still be memorable such as Annie from “Annie”. Favorite characters of mine that have an amazing complexity to them are Elphaba, Galinda(Glinda), Jean Valjean, and Eponine. There is more to them then just one thing. They all battle some kind of strong conflict, which is where their complexity comes from. It also depends on their backgrounds and how others treat them. They all are home to some kind of vulnerability because they all happen to go through some kind of pain and hurt in their lives.

The thickest kind of complexity in a musical has to be the emotions. Each musical has a different emotional world, which is in turn based off the plot and the characters. Some musicals have you feel only positive emotions. You want those musicals in the mix and those are the plots that have the most light-hearted plots, and the simple characters. By the time the score is both positive and negative, the plot become stronger because those shows have more humanity to them, which in turn is more realistic.

Each musical is home to certain emotions they will always have. Those are known as core emotions. Depending on how the actor portrays the character, certain emotions show up in a character that might not show up all the time. Emotions I have already come across are excitement, uplifting, joy, love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, passion, haunting, fear, anger, frustration, sad, heartbreak, loneliness, uncomfortable, desperation, depressing, devastation, guilt, and others that I know I felt, but can’t think of the right emotion yet.

Even an emotion such as heartbreak can be layered. An example of that belong to the songs “I’m Not that Girl” and “On My Own”, two songs about unrequited love, but I am aware of their emotional differences between them. They both have heartbreak and loneliness, but still are quite different in terms of emotions along with layers. By understanding the two characters who sing those, I was able to understand that “On My Own” is the sadder song.

Due to the complexity and simplicity of musicals, it is so hard to explain what they are capable of. I still cannot describe the layers of the different emotions musicals portray. Whenever I see a new musical, I am always hoping I will feel the positive and negative emotion, but I am still perfectly fine if the negative emotions are a no show. That is because I want the right balance to exist. There is a reason why heartbreak is not a part of every single musical and that is due to how fragile that emotion is. Heartbreak is a beautiful emotion, but filled with so much pain and hurt and you don’t want to experience such a fragile emotion in every single musical. So it is important that some musicals are simpler then others.

The links below are blog posts I wrote, which reflect back to this post. One talks more about the emotional impact. The other talk more about the two characters who sing “On My Own” and “I’m Not Girl”