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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Behind the scenes with ‘Les Miserables’

Surely I’m not the only one among us who’s VERY curious about Tom Hooper’s screen version of the musical “Les Miserables,” starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. It won’t open until around Christmas — and, far as I know, hasn’t screened anywhere — but here’s an intriguing little behind-the-scenes featurette that sheds some light how the songs are being handled. Typically, in a screen musical (as Eddie Redmayne, who plays Marius, explains in the video), actors gather in a studio to record the songs, then will later lip-sync to a prerecorded track on the set. Hooper’s chosen to do “Les Mis” differently — every take, the actors are singing live, which means that they have control over the nuances of the song, the tempo, and their acting choices during it. How does that work? With a little magic: Each actor has an earpiece, through which they hear a pianist playing the score somewhere else on the set; the pianist, in turn, lets the actor set the pace. Later, the piano will be replaced by a 70-piece orchestra; the earpieces and microphones, when visible, will be erased via CGI. Interesting! And, based on the very little bit of singing we do hear (Hathaway’s soft, mournful “I Dreamed a Dream,” in the movie’s trailer) and the “freedom” Jackman says it brings to the performances, it just might work like gangbusters. We shall see. In the meantime, if you’re interested in this film, the video’s worth a look.

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