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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Les Mis - M. Laycock

My husband and I went to see the latest Hollywood version of Les Miserables recently. I have seen many productions of the famous story - everything from a local stage production to this latest film. I have been captivated by it since reading the original unabridged book by Victor Hugo while at university many years ago. It has remained the number one top pick on my favourites list ever since.

I'm always a bit hesitant to see another production of it, perhaps because I love it so much I'm afraid it will not be done well enough, not polished enough, not true enough. I'd read a few reviews of this production and I was nervous. Some said it was flawed, that the voices weren't up to the standard one might expect and that damaged the film. They were wrong.

As we left the theatre I thought about something Anne Hathaway said in a recent interview. She talked about the scene where she sings the famous solo, I Dreamed a Dream. She admitted it had been a difficult day and she had felt drained, not in the best place to attempt filming one of the most crucial scenes in the film. "And I didn't hit the note," she admitted.

She was right. She didn't. But she hit something else. The scene is raw and real, the anguish of the character grips your heart and you are left with a gaping mouth and torn soul. For the briefest of moments you are that character, feeling her pain, crying out with her to a world that has crushed her dreams and left her battered and abused.

It made me think about my writing, my work as an author. We strive for excellence, to get it right, to "hit the note," and that's a good thing, but perhaps it's not the most essential thing. Perhaps we should be striving, rather, to be real, to be raw, to let our voices cry out with the pain and the longing that is universal to all in this world. Because, for most, life isn't polished, isn't perfect. It's flawed and often full of pain. Our challenge as writers is to echo that reality while pointing to something more.

The production wasn't as perfect as some might have liked but tears were streaming down my face as the cast sang that last song, that last line. "When tomorrow comes, Tomorrow comes!" That's the genius of Victor Hugo's book. It is a book full of the pain and anguish of life yet it is deeply hopeful. It reveals all that life truly is and then says, "but take heart, I have overcome the world," for there is indeed a world "beyond the barricade."

May we all learn from this master as we lean on the Master of our souls.

Abundant Rain, Marcia's ebook devotional for writers of faith is available on Amazon. Visit her website for more information on her writing/speaking ministry.


  1. Thank you for your wonderful post, Marcia. I recently saw Les Misérables as well and, like you, I had the privilege of reading the unabridged novel in college. In fact, I read it in the original French since I was a French major.

    What struck me most about your post was your comment that "our challenge as writers is to echo that reality while pointing to something more." I totally agree. This is the essence of writing fiction as Christians, is it not? We not only echo reality, but we have the privilege of pointing to a higher reality, a reality that supersedes earthly reality. Thank you so much for reminding us of this truth.

  2. Marcia, what a profound statement: "Perhaps we should be striving, rather, to be real, to be raw, to let our voices cry out with the pain and the longing that is universal to all in this world."

    This hurting world desperately needs to see the real and the raw transformed in our lives, not by laws or rules or "getting it just right," but by accepting the hand that reaches into the mire and offers a way of escape.

  3. I saw and loved the movie, also. Looking at it from an unpublished writer's standpoint, I guess I wish they would have given unknown good singers a spot in the cast instead of going for big names that didn't sing well. I thought Anne Hathaway did a fine job, but the two male leads were wanting. And yet, the movie was still very good and your point about being real and raw is well made.

    I also love your saying there is a world beyond the barricade and I love Hugo's setting grace against law. Not every rebel gets to paradise, of course, as the film suggested, but the story is a good one in that it causes the reader/viewer to think about law and grace and redemption and honor and sacrificial love. I think these things are so important and worth writing about and I wish more writers were putting out just such stories.

    1. Sally, love your comment about wishing for talented singers instead of stars. Did you ever see the movie version of MamaMia? My daughter and I attended the Broadway production, absolutely incredible, and then bought the DVD to watch for the memories. We were in NYC, just the two of us, and so many of the songs just struck our sentimental bones. But Pierce Brosnan was not the man to play the lead. I winced just listening to him--agony. And when one must overcome that--when I knew that there were wonderfully capable singers out there--it's easy to lose the meaning and the depth. (Not that MamaMia comes close to Les Mis for depth or spiritual take-away.)

    2. Have not seen MamaMia.

      And I should add that I understand the need that studios and publishers have for big names that will draw in buyers. It still makes me sorry. I love Jackman and Crowe. I just didn't love them in this particular movie and I would have loved to have found some new talented people to love.

  4. Thank you SO much, Marcia. I needed this today. Looking forward to seeing the movie soon.

  5. I so agree with your observations, Marcia. Others commenting before me echoed my thoughts. I hope to see the film. Son and girlfriend went to see it and were impressed. Always enjoy your devotionals here. God continue to bless you and your writing.

  6. Real and raw. I can be nothing more and you have hit the nail on the head. People are DESPERATE for real and raw...not "based on reality" sit-com Christianity. Thanks Marcia!

  7. Tears have welled up in my eyes as if I were watching the scenes you described all over again. Fantine's pain is like you the world knows. It is hard to reveal that side of "us". The raw, the hurting, the "ugly". But what a joy when the story ends with hope! Pain without hope is brutal and never ending. Pain with hope is stronger faith.
    I need to be challenged to "go there" with my writing. Thank you so much!

  8. I was trying to explain to someone recently who did not know the storyline how Hugo could be both deeply sad and hopeful at the same time. He wanted to know if it had a "happy ending." Well, yes. And no. And profoundly, yes.

  9. Marcia, Thanks for posting here. Your words are filled with truth. As writer's we strive so hard to "hit the mark" that sometimes we forget to encompass all that comes along the way--the real, raw, and not so perfect. I love when I read a book that reaches those places and I pray daily that I should be so blessed as to write one...

  10. I thought Hugh Jackman was incredible! His prayers were tear-jerkers! As a believer it was beautiful to see a man profoundly impacted by God. Even if he hadn't sang a note or had sang badly, which he didn't,one would have been touched by his passion and sincerity. Crowe was weaker, but wondering if people expect more from him than they would have a no-name actor. Being on a big screen with close ups, you really need to have a good actor first,and singing second. The whole production was first class and conveyed Hugo's intent in a fresh way that will hopefully inspire people to ponder the real meaning of life.

  11. Thanks for all your comments, folks. It's obvious this story and this production struck a chord with many. :) Marcia


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