Going to the Movies

It had been fortnight since we last saw a film. The last time my nephews and I went, we watched two films. It was a Sunday and we went to Robinson Magnolia to watch. In the end we watched Les Miserables and THEN Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. Of course in between the films we had lunch.

As the film opened with men:convicts pulling a ship to dry dock and singing. I looked at my nephews to see how they reacted. All through out they watched and did not fall asleep. It had been sometimes since they have a musical. Thanks to technology, one can build a hoard of dvds and vcds of film – not to mention the geometric progression of access to films through the likes of You Tube. They were able to watch My Fair Lady; Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver; the Fiddler on the Roof; the King and I ; and of course The Sound of Music – which seems a popular favorite for some time in the Philippines.

As we watched Les Miserables, I was reminded of some statements about the film -comparing it to the musical played on West End, On Broadway and even in the Meralco Theatre. Film and stage are two different environments. Each bring to the table different strengths and weaknesses. The zoom in can take the viewer deeper into a character in films. While in a musical the song reveals the nuances of the story and its characters. Interpretations and adaptations might turn out different – sometimes it work and sometimes well … It deserves a shave at Sweeney Todd’s Barbershop.

As for the film adaptation of the musical Les Mis, It turned up better than I expected. The cast and the film was able to telegraph the emotional state of the different characters. The visuals was stunning and the story itself tight and consistent – bringing to light details – like why Valjean failed to see the flight of Fantine. And yes the songs were perhaps … it needed improvement, in the end though it was fine and actually got better.

The film makers could have opted to have taken the Darth Vader route and dubbed the actors when they sang. Similar to what was done for Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Then again, Rex Harrison who played Prof Henry Higgins in the same film recited his lines rather than sing them. Years before William Shatner did it. Harrison was of course the first to play Higgins in My Fair Lady. He was the only original cast member who made it to the film adaptation. Audrey Hepburn replaced Julie Andrews who was Eliza in the original. Sunrise, Sunset.

Still for those interested it would be worthwhile to watch the the 10th and 25th Anniversary Concerts of Les Miserable to see and hear how music and voices blend together. In the film the Bishop who had an impact on Valjean was in fact played the first Valjean on West End – the first Valjean in the English version of the musical.

Then from Paris we went near the Dark Forest and watched Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Where we see Hansel and Gretel grow up as Witch Catchers equipped with crossbows and their own gatling gun. The usual adventure film and one just enjoys it for what it is.

And last Sunday we ended up watching Warm Bodies. The film is a romantic-comedy-zombie-post-apocalyptic-fable starring Nicholas Holt (the boy from about a boy); John Malkovich (from Being John Malkovich), and Teresa Palmer (from Take Me Home Tonight). The film’s wit and refreshing take on the zombie genre and even the present love and horror film is fresh. Much like Shaun of the Dead.

All in all not a bad set of films to watch. And yes eventually these films will make their way to video, one way or the other. But then there is a difference when you watch on your monitor an on the silver screen. No wonder it was once called a time machine.

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