After much delay due to illness (I think I got the black lung, Pop). Here is the final in my triumvirate of posts on Les Miserables...probably the last forever on this topic.
Les Miserables - The Musical
The musical is by far my favorite version of Les Mis. It has all the epic-ness of the novel without the slow boring parts...the musical seems face paced and interesting throughout. It is amazing at how well they were able to take this meandering novel and condense it's essence down into the 3 hour musical. You don't feel like you are missing sections of the novel, you still get the passage of time, the complexity of characters, the feelings of good and evil in everyone...all in song. The composers just captured the emotions of the characters perfectly - from the prison chain gang singing "Look down, look down, you'll always be a slave. Look down, look down your standing in your grave." to Eponine singing the ballad of the invisible "On my Own" I couldn't help but be drawn into the characters and understanding of their plight. Rarely will you hear better songs about prostitutes, robbing corpses, and revolution. It is truly a musical manly men can enjoy, as well as, the most feminine of women and everyone in between.
Les Miserables is the musical that got me into musical theater. I had seen a few things and they were OK, but Les Mis was the first time I was blown away. I still use Les Mis as my measuring stick on all musicals I see. It is the one musical that I would recommend everyone see at least once...even if you don't like musicals. The entire stage production is amazing, with large scenery objects transforming from one object to the next at an impressive speed. I find the whole thing well done, and well thought out.
A note on the movie - I think I originally saw the movie in a pre-release with employees of the movie theater next to the arcade I once worked. I thought it was OK but not great. But I hated it. Why? In the version, I originally saw, I swear they had Jean Valjean kill Javert. I swear, that Javert basically forced Valjean to kill by telling him that he would never stop chasing him and his daughter...ever. Javert wanted to die that was obvious, but to have Valjean kill him changed the whole story. I didn't like it. In the movie that GF-Unit watched the other weekend, it did not have this scene...Javert committed suicide like was good and proper. I don't know maybe I have been wrong or confusing something else with the movie for 10+ years. I remember it so clearly though...I wonder if they changed it before the official release (I know that happened with other movies we watched pre-release, but it was never anything as important).