BEYOND THE BARRICADE: LES MIS Film Cast on the Themes of Love and Redemption
Stars of the film Jackman, Hathaway, Barks, Redmayne, and Seyfried chatted with the press about their experience, and in this edition they cover the film's themes of love and redemption, and more! Check out the interview below:
The most powerful and culminating lyrics is "To love another person is to see the face of God" and I wanted your personal takes on that.
AS: It's the most profound thing you could ever hear someone say and to hear it in a song, it's just that much more powerful. It's what we're left with at the end and that's why I think Les Miz has been such a phenomenon for so many years. Because of the theme, what it's about in the end--love and through bombshells and music. It's a culmination of everything we've watched and everything that we're looking for.
SB: I agree, that theme of redemption and hope, and I think that lyric "To love another person is to see the face of God"--it's like, for my character growing up in a world with the Thenardiers and however hilarious they are, they're very twisted dark people. For a character like Eponine who's never really experienced good people--when she meets someone like Marius, he's a good man, and that kind of effect on her and love actually redeems her. She does choose the natural path to her which is--she's a criminal which is not the correct path to get on. But in the end, she does do the right thing because I think love has actually redeemed her and made her...tragic, she does do the right thing. So yeah, I think love redeems her.
ER: It's also about relating to Claude-Michel's score. It's that tune that Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop sings to Hugh, at that moment which God has place him in Jean Valjean's life for the first time--how that recapitulates throughout the piece. When I saw the film, it absolutely stunned me when Hugh and Isabelle are running away from Javert and they come into the convent and you suddenly hear these nuns singing that piece. It's suddenly a choral piece, and it's like Tom has woven in religious imagery throughout the piece, and suddenly to hear this music in an ecclesiastical setting, that kind of transcendental--that hit me in that moment and I think it's something Tim is very conscious about. And so in some ways Claude-Michel and Alain and Herbie in the last moments of the film conclude with something they've woven throughout the entire piece.
AH: I think it's the answer to the question that Jean Valjean asks in the Prologue--what spirit comes to move my life? And he spends the rest of the film answering that question. And a brief sidebar--I just to make sure I impress upon everyone in this room, I don't want you to walk out of here charmed by Hugh Jackman. [laughter] Because we all know that he's a miracle, and we all know that he can get up and make friends with everyone and be totally friendly and sometimes I think that keeps people from seeing his genius as an actor. I just want to say, the reason that line resonates with you, is because we've witnessed it in his performance, the entire time. What he does in this film is inspiring and we were all inspired by him. I just don't want his niceness to distract you from the fact that he is a deep, serious and profoundly talented actor.
HJ: I think you've hit on, to me, the most powerful line in the musical and what Victor Hugo is talking about...and of course for Victor Hugo there's a large comment in the book about the church at the time, it made him very, very unpopular when he wrote it. It was a big behemoth, powerful, distant, quite excluding thing. There's a lot of fire and brimstone. And I think he was reminding everyone at the time of the Jesus Christ example, which is to love people. It's never been more relevant--we saw it in the street with the cop. There could be a fair dose of that right now in the Middle East, dare I say. For all of us the idea that I say--the philosophy--that actually you don't need to go to the top of a mountain, to Tibet, to find self-realization. You don't necessarily need to do great things or listen to spiritual leaders or whatever it is. The first thing you have to do is be present and know what you stand for in life and face what is in front of you. Aas Annie reminded me this morning, that's that cop in Times Square. Humanity doing just what was required, and that's real love. And, I agree with Victor Hugo, that's the answer to life.
I thought all five of you were extraordinary, and if I had five little gold statuettes right now...[laughter] I cover parenting so I thought about this very much as a mom. And first of all--Hugh, our daughters are two days apart, so you've all talked about the synergies between the themes in the film and what's going on in the world today, I'm wondering about you as a parent--how do you talk to your child about this kind of a thing so that they're ready to see those kinds of movies and understand the importance and relevance of it all?
HJ: It's such a great question. What amazes me--I have a twelve-year-old as well, and a seven-year-old--is how naturally they'll go to that subject. And how often they will see it and pick up on it. And we are lucky enough to have traveled to many places. The subject is natural for them--I think for kids in particular, equity is the way the world was meant to be, and of course they have very little control over their life. They naturally see the good in everyone around them and the equality wherever they go. So we do talk about it, we often talk about our contribution, about community, about giving back. I don't know if it's just me but it seems to me, the schools that my kids are at, it seems kids are way more connected to these issues than when I was young. The Global Poverty Project is really a bunch of young 20-year-olds who's mission it is to see the end of extreme poverty in their lifetime and they're committed, nothing's going to stop them. So I'm a 44-year-old guy who basically gets on their bandwagon; they're smart and passionate. I think it's an exciting time because I think it's a subject that totally resonates with people. My father worked for Pricewaterhouse his whole life and he said by the end of his time there, young kids would come in and they weren't asking about the perk package, they wanted to know about the corporate responsibility that the firm had, that was the most important thing to them.
I think it's exciting, I think it's a great idea to keep the conversation going whenever possible. That's a good point, I hadn't even thought about, it may be at times too brutal but certainly the themes will resonate.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures