'Les Miserables' first trailer debuts online

'Les Miserables' will hit theaters Dec. 14.

Universal/YouTube screenshot
'Les Miserables' will star Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.

An official teaser trailer has been released for Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper’s adaptation of producer Cameron Mackintosh’s Les Misérables stage musical. The film chronicles the struggles of lower-class citizens in early 19th century France – as seen through the eyes of characters like the ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) and struggling single mother Fantine (Anne Hathaway).

Yesterday’s batch of official images from Les Misérables (colloquially known as Les Miz) teased the design of the film’s period setting, along with the look of its cast “in character.” The first theatrical promo offers even more of that, along with an excerpt from Hathaway’s rendition of the famous Les Miz tune “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Something that immediately jumps out about Hathaway’s singing (in a good way) is how naturalistic and unprocessed it sounds. Of course, that is a direct result of Hooper’s decision to have the entire Les Miz cast perform their songs live during production. Hence, Hathaway’s musical performance feels all the more organic to her surroundings – as opposed to, sounding like something that was (literally) recorded and dubbed over at a separate time, similar to just about every other movie musical in recent memory.

Speaking of the film’s scenery: Les Miz has the appearance of an authentic period piece, as is nicely illustrated by the teaser trailer (in combination with previously-released set photos). Beyond attention to little details – such as the cast’s gaunt appearances – the squalid state of the city architecture and sets in the movie are quite impressive. That also goes for the different styles of camerawork on display in early footage, varying from swooping shots of rebellious French peasants, to rough handheld shots of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) riding his horse through the rain. Credit for all that belongs to the triumvirate that is director Tom Hooper, cinematographer Danny Cohen, and production designer Eve Stewart, who all previously worked together on The King’s Speech.

Overall, Hooper’s take on Les Miz comes off as a hybrid of prestigious period fare and musical melodrama – and thus, probably not something that will win over moviegoers who generally do not care for either sub-genre. However, for fans of the Les Miz stage musical, there’s good reason to be happy about Hollywood’s treatment of the show (going off what’s been shown so far).

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

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