Last night, I attended an opening day showing of the film Les Miserables. Upon reflection of my experience last night, I have a few recommendations for moviegoers, especially if you plan to see Les Mis. (If for no other reason than to discourage certain actions in the future so that I don’t have to kick any of you in the throat.)
1. Know the length of the movie you plan to see and make all necessary preparations: purchase all concessions and visit the restroom before the movie starts. This will prevent the need to get up, move around, and stomp along 40 feet of concrete three times (woman in the noisy heels, you know I am speaking directly to you!) during the film. If you do not believe that you can sit for two hours forty-eight minutes without getting up and disturbing everyone around you while Eponine or Fantine or Gravoche or nearly everyone at the barricade dies, wait to see the movie until the DVD release. You can watch the movie in segments in the comfort of your own living room. Consider yourself warned, though. I will be in the corner of the room banging a mallet on concrete. Payback is hell.
2. Learn the style and genre of the film before buying a ticket. Les Miserables, for example, is a musical and nearly every piece of dialogue is sung. If two hours forty-eight minutes of singing is going to bore you and you fear that you will need to play with your phone, play with toys (I have no idea why any parent would bring an 11-year-old boy to Les Mis), talk or constantly feel the need to walk around, choose a different movie.
3. If you are not a fan of the work, don’t go to Opening Day of that movie. As my husband put it while driving home last night, he will let all the fanatics dressed as Bilbo Baggins see The Hobbit first. It’s more important to the fanatics. Let the fanatics have their joyful, obsession-filled moment. Jay will see The Hobbit later, after the fanatics have had their fill, just in case it sucks and he needs to laugh or leave.
4. This next plea is directed specifically to the 16-year-old twit sitting with her mother and far too close to me. If you leave the theater and come back 10 minutes later, you don’t get to ask, “What did I miss?” And shame on your mother for answering you every time! Also, I applaud you for trying to broaden your cultural horizons by watching Les Mis, but perhaps you are too stupid to understand the story. I would suggest picking up the Cliff’s Notes version of whatever famous-novel-turned-movie you decide to see next. I assume your entire literary education has been in Cliff’s Notes form so you should be familiar with the format. And, in case you think I am being too harsh and exaggerating your stupidity, below is a list of questions I overheard you asking your mother, who, by the way, was not smart enough to answer you:
Question #1: “What’s wrong with her?” You asked this while Fantine was dying. She lay in a hospital bed, looked like hell, and saw the hallucination of her daughter. She was dying!
Question #2: “What are they doing?” You asked this while the Thenardier’s were robbing their customers during Master of the House. The Innkeeper and his wife were singing about ripping off their customers while robbing them blind for the audience to clearly see. You are really starting to get on my nerves.
Question #3: “Eeww, what’s wrong with them?” You asked this during a sweeping camera shot of the poor and depraved on the streets of Paris. Well, the people appear to be dirty, starving, and covered in festering sores. That’s what’s wrong with them. That’s what poverty in 1832 in Paris looked like.
Question #542: “What? Is he sick or something?” You asked this at the beginning of the finale after Jean Valjean had collapsed and was hunched over in a chair, wrapped in a blanket, looking like death warmed over. The ghost of Fantine appeared beside him and sang, “Take my hand. I’ll lead you to salvation.” He’s dying, you little twit! I am starting to think you are just messing with me. No one is this stupid!
5. My final recommendation to moviegoers is simple. If you are dead inside, do not buy a ticket for Les Miserables. The couple sitting in front of me with their teenage daughter made this mistake. They bought their tickets and snacks and then sat through two hours forty-eight minutes of what was apparently a laughable experience for them even though they are clearly dead inside. They laughed when Eponine died. They laughed when Gavroche (a child!) died. They laughed at nearly everything Hugh Jackman did as Jean Valjean, including when he died! After the movie was over, the father turned to his wife and daughter and proclaimed, “Thank God that’s over!” He could have saved himself $50 (estimated price of three tickets plus snacks) and the misery of sitting through the most beautiful musical ever written had he been aware that he has no soul and is therefore incapable of appreciating such a wonderfully tragic story.
This morning, as I laid in my comfy bed rather than a jail cell charged with assault, I thanked God for granting me patience last night. As much as I would have liked to wrap my hands around that man’s throat until he admitted that he was dead inside and had no business encroaching on my Les Mis experience, I didn’t. That level of self-control and restraint could only be provided through Divine Intervention, so thank you, Jesus. I apologize for making you work so hard on your birthday.
In all seriousness, watch Les Miserables. I think the world needs Les Mis. It is a story of redemption; the story of a man dedicating his life to doing good in order to repay his debt to God. It is a story of love: love of country, love of humanity, love of family, love of God. Even with a few strange choices made by the director, I encourage all of you to see the film version of Les Mis, but only if you follow the recommendations made here. Maybe if we all saw it, we would all believe that we should only do what is good and that compassion is a gift from God that should never be squandered, ridiculed, or ignored.
And remember, the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of God
—Finale, Les Miserables