‘Les Miz’

By Tom Cardella

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 24, 2013

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In 1862, the novelist and poet Victor Hugo wrote a novel called “Les Misérables.” The novel was popular enough at the time, and down through the years became one of those books that we call a “classic.” 

A classic novel is one that is usually read only by students as assigned reading. Students rejoiced when the novel was made into a film in 1935 starring Charles Laughton and Fredric March. For the price of a movie ticket, the students could skip the novel and see the film, a tradition that has studiously been followed until the present day. Forty-five years later, “Les Misérables” had become a book gathering dust on the shelf of your local library, except for those occasions when the film was revived on Turner Classic Movies. 

But in ’80, the old novel and film was turned into a musical and the rest, as they say, became history. In the four decades since, “Les Misérables” has become a franchise. The musical makes regular appearances in Philadelphia and every place else across the globe much like “Grease” without the attitude. There was a ’98 remake of the film starring Liam Neeson. Without the musical score, it played like a 19th century version of “Die Hard.” In 2000, a TV miniseries starring Gerard Depardieu was released, which fell far short of ratings for “Downton Abbey.” All that has gone before pales in comparison to the 2012 Hollywood epic (an “epic” being a Hollywood film that lasts long enough that even folks in their 20s have to take a restroom break). 

Indeed “Les Misérables” is so popular it has its own nickname — “Les Miz.” The film is being shown in Philadelphia at the same time the theatrical version is playing the Academy of Music. Take that Andrew Lloyd Webber. Somewhere in the afterlife, Hugo agonizes at how much money he would have made if only he had the right agent. Your intrepid columnist found a snippet of the film that was left on the cutting-room floor. 

(The brave Jean Valjean sings)

I dreamed a dream in times gone by

when I was high

and life worth living.

I dreamed a dream this film would end

before I got laryngitis.

At my age, those damn Paris streets,

can really hurt your arthritis.

They took the teeth from poor Fantine,

and boy did she become so lean.

(The very brave Fantine sings)

I dreamed a dream in times gone by

when I was employed and happy.

Then for no real apparent cause,

I was tossed and became sappy.

In truth the beatings made me bored

But it won me lots of awards.

(Javert sings)

I dreamed a dream in times gone by

when I was young and dashing.

If Russell Crowe could only sing,

I would have been really smashing.

I tried to catch that Jean Valjean,

but I jumped off a cliff instead.

When you are not the leading man,

You are the one who winds up dead. 

(Cosette sings)

I dreamed a dream in times gone by

that Fantine is the part I’d play.

Instead Cosette was my sad fate,

and the glory to Anne Hathaway.

No awards do happy twits win

when your role is not overwrought.

No walk down the red carpet aisle.

No speech on the tough fight I’ve fought.

(Valjean sings yet again)

And so I’m out here still singing.

Will they never let me expire?

I’m Hugh Jackman, I have a life,

I need to pee, it’s really dire.

Dear God, here comes Javert again.

Perhaps a hobby he can find

Go to a game, find him a date.

I think that I may lose my mind.

(Fantine sings while dying)

I dreamed a dream in times gone by

when I could make money in oil.

I sang my heart out, then I died

but lost my hit to Susan Boyle.

(Cosette sings)

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