LES MISERABLES First Screening Earns Bouts of Applause and a Standing Ovation

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Having just finished his cut of the film at 2 a.m., Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (A King’s Speech) presented the first screening of Les Miserables to a New York audience this afternoon. Not since 2002′s Chicago has a musical feature been a serious Oscar contender for Best Picture, but early reactions indicate that the trend could change this year. Each musical number was followed by raucous applause with the principal cast taking the stage to a standing ovation at the end of the film. It looks like Christmas has come early for the cast and crew of Les Miserables. 

The film stars Hugh JackmanAnne HathawayRussell CroweAmanda SeyfriedEddie RedmayneSamantha BarksHelena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen.  Les Miserables opens on December 25th. Hit the jump to read some audience reactions.

anne-hathaway-les-miserables-photoThe first audience reactions to Les Miserables were reported by THR from the first screening at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Hooper, who had just finished his first Thanksgiving meal, shared what he was thankful for this year:

“I’m grateful that I finished it [the film]… I’m grateful to the thousands of people who have been on this journey, particularly the wonderful cast… and I’m grateful to Victor Hugo[who wrote the novel upon which the Broadway play upon which the film is derived], who unfortunately can’t be with us.”

Though the journalists in attendance couldn’t offer their reviews yet, they were allowed to make general comments. The following is from THR reporter, Scott Feinberg:

Whether or not the fact that Hooper used the actors’ live on-set singing (as opposed to re-recording it in post-production) — which Universal touted in a recent featurette — actually enhances a film more than it compromises the quality of the music, audiences seem to have been sold on the former. Any “first” also makes for a great talking-point on the awards season campaign trail. (Incidentally, all of the musical numbers were also shot in close-up and uninterrupted takes.)

Feinberg also highlights Hooper’s strong chances for Best Director, names Hathaway as a frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress, says that Jackman’s Valjean role was custom-made for him though it may not be enough to earn him even a nomination this year in a crowded category, commends Crowe’s vocal abilities as Javert and says that Barks, Seyfried and Carter could also contend for Best Supporting Actress nominations. There is also the original song, “Suddenly,” that was written specifically for the film and will likely be a contender.

Let’s take a look at some of the reactions from viewers via Twitter:

Kristopher Tapley ‏@kristapley Hathaway wins. GOD. I wept. Film’s a triumph. They’re on their feet here. NYC crowd ate…it…up. #lesmiserables

Wilson Morales ‏@blackfilm Standing O for #LesMiserables! Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks are on stage now for Q & A.
For those who are theater purists, you will LOVE #LesMiserables! Hooper did it right. Having Barks play role again but on film was great!

DaveKarger ‏@davekarger First #LesMiserables screening went over extremely well. I’d call it a sure thing Picture nominee for Oscar and the probable Globe winner.
Hugh Jackman has a great shot to bump out Denzel or Joaquin in the Best Actor race. His singing is quite impressive. #LesMiserables
Anne Hathaway could easily win supporting actress. Her “I Dreamed a Dream” is the showstopper. #LesMiserables

Clayton Davis ‏@AwardsCircuit Poor Russell Crowe. With everyone singing spectacular, he stands out like a sore thumb. #LesMiserables

Steven Zeitchik ‏@ZeitchikLAT Hathaway is a stand-out, albeit in very few scenes; Jackman and Crowe singing is solid but doesn’t reach for as much. #LesMiserables

Julie Stone @Julie_Stone #LesMiserables screening audience burst into applause after songs and gave a long standing ovation during the credits.

Samantha Massell ‏@smassellsings Still reeling from the amazingness that was today. #lesmiserables#firstEVERscreening
In case I wasn’t clear, the #lesmiserables movie is absolutely UNREAL. Ten million points to #TomHooper for doing this musical movie RIGHT.

Jennifer Ravalli ‏@JennNYU Got to be one of the first people to see #lesmiserables today @SAGscreening! It was amazing! Totally love the brilliant #eddieredmayne

Jo Foster ‏@jo1foster Sobbed my eyes out. Les Miserables. WHAT AN EPIC MOVIE. #lesmiserables

Lucy Gibson ‏@LucyRGibson Can’t say too much about #lesmiserables until its release but I will say this: it grabs your heart and squeezes it till you cry like a baby
I’m going to call it early but #lesmiserables has Best Picture written all over it

hugh-jackman-les-miserables-photoHere’s the synopsis for Les Miserables:

Les Misérables is the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 27th year. Helmed byThe King’s Speech‘s Academy Award®-winning director,Tom Hooper, the Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh production stars Hugh Jackman, Oscar® winner Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne, with further casting to be announced.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption–a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

In December 2012, the world’s longest-running musical brings its power to the big screen in Tom Hooper’s sweeping and spectacular interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale. With international superstars and beloved songs–including “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More” and “On My Own”–Les Misérables, the show of shows, is now reborn as the cinematic musical experience of a lifetime.

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  • stylus59

    Oscar is listening.

  • Chris

    They said the same thing about TDKR. Could not be less interested in this film. This film will probably be the frontrunner but that’s just because it appeals to old white men aka the academy.

    • Gabriel

      Wrong. TDKR got a muted response from the Academy

      • Chris

        Yeah I know, but after the first few screenings of TDKR people were calling it a masterpiece and it too had standing ovations. Well TDKR turned out to be good not great. And once the Academy saw it they had the same response. This article says the people in attendance were journalists, not strictly academy members…just like the same group that gave TDKR a standing ovation.

      • Joseph M

        This Batman-related adoration from fanboys gets tiresome. A film that looks so great that you ignore gaping plot holes and the reality that it’s a film about a guy dressed up s a bat is not a masterpiece. Hey, I’ll buy the blu ray and enjoy it for what it is – a popcorn movie. Just don’t call it a masterpiece. It cheapens it for the great films that truly are masterpieces.

      • James

        lmao. A standing ovation from the likes of comic book fanboys means jack.

      • Steve

        Actually a standing ovation when the stars or director of a film are present is not at all uncommon. Not to take away from either Le Mis or TDKR, but Cloud Atlas also received standing ovations and that reaction certainly wasn’t duplicated among the broader swath of critics or movie audiences when Cloud Atlas was released to the public. Standing ovations are nice and sometimes they reflect the film’s quality. More often than not, they don’t foretell precisely how a film will be received as a whole.

      • Jason

        TDKR was the third installment of a blockbuster superhero series.

        Les Miserables is an opera.

        I fail to see the connection.

    • Hector

      Chris doesn’t seem to realize that the largest audience for musicals is young women.

      • james

        Musical ≠ Opera

  • Chris

    They said the same thing about TDKR. Could not be less interested in this film. This film will probably be the frontrunner but that\’s just because it appeals to old white men aka the academy.

    • Charlie

      So why are you reading news articles about it much less commenting?

      • Chris

        I’m just confused by the strong anticipation for it. It looks like its over directed just like The Kings Speech and it just screams “give us oscars.” Plus I rather see films that advance cinema rather than give us the same material that gets old men hard. To me it just looks melodramatic and kind of like War Horse in the sense that its forcing emotions on the audience w/I earning them. Plus musicals take me out of a film’s reality and I have a tough time caring when a character is singing what they’re thinking or feeling rather than showing.

      • Charlie

        There is plenty of variety at the cinema this year, if you don’t like musicals then great…but lots of people do. I disagree that this movie only appeals to “old white men” but even if it does so what? Shouldn’t they be able to go to the movies too? I guess westerns should be outlawed too – they only appeal to an older white demographic as well.

      • Alan

        Chris Logic: “The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Rises … hey stop talking about The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight Rises …”

      • Warhead

        The King’s Speech was fantastic and was not ‘over-directed’ (that phrase has no meaning, by the way. I don’t think you really know what a director does). Open your mind a bit someday. Batman is played out. Even Chris Nolan is tired of it as Rises makes clear. If you don’t get that from the movie, get it from the fact that he is no longer interested enough to do another. In fact, if he doesn’t move on an prove he can do more than comic book movies, his stock will drop. I am a fan of several genre of film, but I will watch and can appreciate absolutely anything as long as it is of high quality. A great musical drama? Bring it? Icelandic thriller? Push. Animation, horror, silent film, weepie, whatever; craft is king.

        Variety will help you grow. Christian Bale wrapped in plastic croaking out stilted dialog has lost it tang. I loved the The Dark Knight. TDKR’s is notable for squandering Tom Hardy’s huge talent. His ability was completely squelched. Watch something like Lawless if you want to see how to pull stellar work out of talented performers.

  • bugaloo

    Peter Bogdanovich’s famous 1975 flop “At Long Last Love” also recorded the actors’ singing live during takes, so I don’t see how this could be considered a “first”….

    • Chris

      I think people have already made up their minds and know they’re gonna love it no matter what.

      • James

        You’ve made up your mind before the movie came out, I think your puny little glass house needs a wrecking ball taken to it. Spam some other movie’s comments section, idiot.

    • Grasjetiever

      The film Once was also sung live. It won an Oscar, and it had a budget of just 100 000$. Amazing musical, look it up.

  • Gregg Lamm

    Story drives emotions, and emotions drives response. When a story connects with the truths people reading, watching, or listening to it have had in their own lives, or have longed for for themselves or for people they know and love, the result is a response based on truth, not on manipulation.

    The reason Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables has succeeded in capturing the imaginations of people across the world since it was first published in 1862 is because its themes of love, loss, redemption, forgiveness, and the will to survive, continue (and will always continue) to be themes that people across the world make a heart-connection with.

    And Cameron Mackintosh’s musical production of Boubil and Schonberg’s theater piece has succeeded for the same reasons. The story works. The music works. The lyrics work. And in the end, and in a very real sense, Les Miserables has never been just a story about a few specific people trapped within the context of the French Revolution. It is the story of all of us … trapped by decisions we wish we hadn’t made, bound by judgments we’re ill-equipped to relinquish, set-free by unconditional love, forgiven by the ones who should demand justice, and given another chance when it seems like we’ve run out of chances. I can’t wait to see this movie. Good night and Godspeed.

    Gregg Lamm / Newberg, OR

    • Louisa

      Thanks Gregg, you’re right on target. The book as been a classic for over 100 years. The musical has been active for over 25 years, yet people sound like they know nothing about it. I loved the book, the play and I can’t wait for the movie. But that may not count cause I’m an old white woman. Isn’t that a prerequisite for liking the movie?

  • vidocq

    Tom Hooper should also thank Eugène François Vidocq whose life story was the main inspiration for Victor Hugo. The truth is Vidocq is both Jean Valjean and Javert combined!!

  • D. McHugh

    I’ve never been a Les Miz fan, but I have to admit that the film looks fantastic and I’m actually excited to see it. Although small, the role of Fantine is probably one of the top three in the show to have and won’t be surprised if Ann win the Oscar. The role is written that well, not to mention her solo.
    What I’ll be most interested to see is how they fix the HUGE plot holes of the stage musical. Yes, I know it’s been a worldwide phenomenon and millions LOVE it. Still, that doesn’t make the story well-written or particularly good. The problem is that it’s not really possible to take a book that’s over 1,000 pages and put it on stage with any reasonable amount of coherency, without ending up with a 6-hour show. Les Miz runs just over 3 hours on stage and has enormous time gaps where characters’ live, relationships and circumstances change dramatically “off screen”, so that the next time you see them; it’s very confusing as to what happened to them or where they are in their lives. Two examples that come to mind are Valjean is a poor, escaped convict in one seen, but the next time he appears on stage, he’s a wealthy entrepreneur. What?! Later in the show, he sings “Bring Him Home” to a sleeping Marius, about how much the young man is like the “son I’ve never known”. The problem? Before that scene, he’s never even met Marius. Strong emotions for two characters who have no relationship in the show. It’s those kinds of things that make Les Miz not a very good show. The music is outstanding and I think that’s what pulls people in and makes them forget the barely-there story underneath. If they simply put the stage musical on film, it will have all the same problems as Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera did…another weak-story show that owes its success to the strength of its score. Even so, I don’t see how they can change much, as Les Miz is through-composed and there’s barely a spoken word in the entire three hours. There’s no room for book scenes when it’s all music. Still, I hope it does well for the sake of the future of movie musicals…and I know it will be beautiful to look at and listen to.

    • Nikko

      I always took the “son I’ve never known” comment to be highlighting that he was a potential son-in-law, and he never got to know the poor young man. His daughter loved Marius, and now he lays dying in a pool of his own blood. He really is the so he “never got to know.”

    • Anonymous

      The line is actually “he’s like the son I might have know, if god had granted me a son.” The song has nothing to do with jean val jean’s relationship with Marius. It is about jvj praying for him to be safe because his daughter, cosette, is in love with him.

      The story is not as disjointed as you claim.

    • Josh

      The line is actually “he’s like the son I might have know, if god had granted me a son.” The song has nothing to do with jean val jean’s relationship with Marius. It is about jvj praying for him to be safe because his daughter, cosette, is in love with him.

      The story is not as disjointed as you claim.

    • La

      Bro did you sleep through the whole turn your life around,take this silver and make something of yourself scene with the priest? It’s all there, just pay attention :) maybe you should see the “spoken” movie version ( with Liam Neeson) so you can understand it a bit more… Just saying :) it’s incredible!!

  • Jeff

    Did someone seriously compare this to the Dark Night Rises?!! Wow! thats funny.

  • PleezToSplain

    “Hit the jump to read some audience reactions.”

    I must have missed the jump. Can someone point it out to me? Also, if it’s not too burdensome, I’d be grateful if you would also be so kind as to tell me what this jump is. It’s possible that I slapped the hack or pumped the graf in error and missed the jump as a result. If so, my apologies for the trouble.

  • Hugo Boliche

    Woody Allen also did live singing in “Everyone Says I Love You.”

    I was at the recent LA screening with actors and director in attendance, and a lot of time audiences applaud at these things because it’s the polite thing to do and you know the people involved are there. I’ve seen people clap at credits, for crying out loud, so reports of audiences applauding after songs should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, I did get the sense after the screening that people generally liked this film. If you like Les Miserables, you’ll probably love it. If you don’t, I’m not sure this movie will change your mind.

  • Nikko

    I always took the I’ve never known comment to be highlighting that he was a potential son-in-law, and he never got to know the poor young man. His daughter loved Marius, and now he has a pretty strong potential of laying dead in a pool of his own blood. He really is the so he never got to know, and he fears that he never will.

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  • Hrothgar

    Can’t wait for this movie!! So excited. The trailer looks amazing and I think the cast is outstanding. With the exception of the kid playing Marius, all I can think about when I see him is that his mouth is too huge for his face. Sorry.

  • Hrothgar

    Can\’t wait for this movie!! So excited. The trailer looks amazing and I think the cast is outstanding. With the exception of the kid playing Marius, all I can think about when I see him is that his mouth is too huge for his face. Sorry.

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  • rs

    I know that “I Dreamed a Dream” poster pic is doctored of imperfections, but wow… Anne Hathaway’s beauty leaves me breathless. Cannot wait to see this.

  • rs

    I know those promo pics are doctored of imperfections, but wow… Anne Hathaway’s beauty leaves me breathless. Cannot wait to see this.

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