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Les Miserables reviews: What makes the movie different from the stage show?

Les Miserables reviews: British director Tom Hooper says the movie provides emotion via close ups. Les Miserables made its English language debut 27 years ago.

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The movie reunites the same team that worked on the original musical, including French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyricist Alain Boublil, and English language adapter Herbert Kretzmer. It adds one original song to the existing show, which includes the well-known "I Dreamed a Dream".

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Jackman plays petty thief Jean Valjean, the protagonist of the story based on French writer Victor Hugo's epic 1862 historical novel "Les Miserables." Valjean transforms himself into a respected businessman but struggles for decades to escape the clutches of his nemesis, police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), and along the way encounters factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway).

TIMELY MESSAGE

Inspired by films such as 1991's "The Commitments," singing was filmed live rather than later recorded in a studio to give the movie a more authentic feel.

Hathaway lost 25 pounds (11.3 kg) for the role and cut her long brown hair. She spent six months perfecting the task of crying and singing at the same time for "I Dreamed a Dream" and is a hot favorite for a best supporting actress Oscar.

In a twist of fate, Hooper had initially seen Hathaway singing to Jackman a boisterous version of the "Les Miserables" song "On My Own" at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony, just when he was trying to decide whether to direct the film and was thinking about casting.

"I was sitting there, going: 'There is something very strange happening'," he joked. "Whatever happened, it certainly worked, because I ended up casting both of them."

Hooper said he took his inspiration mostly from Hugo's novel rather than any one stage production, and thus saw Crowe's Javert more as a "deeply honorable" character than a simplistic "bad guy" as portrayed in some productions.

The time also felt right, he said, to bring the story to a larger audience on the big screen.

"There are so many people hurting around the world because of social, economic, inequality and inequity. There is such anger against the system," he said, "whether it's the protests on Wall Street or in London at St Paul's, or the seismic shifts happening in the Middle East."

"'Les Miserables' is the great advocate of the dispossessed," Hooper said. "It teaches you the way to collective action is through passionate engagement with the people around you. It starts with love for the person next to you." (Editing by Jill Serjeant and David Storey)

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