STAGE TO SCREENS: Looking at Les MisÚrables Through a New Lens; Recapping the Movie

By Kenneth Jones
12 Dec 2012

Aaron Tveit
Photo by Universal Pictures

Enjolras, the leader of the student rebellion, wears a jacket of red — the color of blood that will eventually stain the soundstage's cobblestones after the barricades arise. (Yes, in his final moments, Enjolras is splayed over backwards, in an echo of — but not a recreation of — his indelible stage death on the barricade.) Aaron Tveit, the superheroic American actor who vocally carried the Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can, ought to be at the top of everybody's list for Leading Man in a Musical. Given that his excellence in Catch Me If You Can (playing the title con man) was snubbed at Tony-nomination time in 2011, I wouldn't blame him for walking away from the stage altogether. I wish him many films and TV series in the future — and I hope he returns to Broadway in a juicy role that makes the past Tony nominators feel shame.

One final note about color in the film: There is an additional dollop of magical blue — a pale purple, really — in Hooper's vision for the famous gate scene in which Eponine guides Marius to the home of Cosette. The arbor outside Cosette's bed chamber fairly drips with creamy violet-colored wisteria, signifying the ripe and ready pluckability of her love. When she sings "A Heart Full of Love" with Marius, separated by that high gate that is so iconic in the stage musical (original directors Trevor Nunn and John Caird were masters of visual tension), Hooper places an opalescent butterfly between them, alighting on the gate and spreading its wings with all the tentativeness of a first kiss. Of all the special effects in this $61 million film — which boasts a lot of camera tricks and computerized cityscapes — that tiny insect is one of the most breathtaking.

Look for more notes and comment about the "Les Misérables" movie in the next Playbill Stage to Screens column.

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of He penned Playbill's "Smash Report" columns that recapped the first season of the NBC musical series "Smash." Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)

View highlights from "Les Miz" here: