I think this is the first time ever that I've gone to the cinema in Spain to watch a movie that hasn't been released yet in England. Normally, I would try and watch it in the original language but since it was a musical, it didn't really matter, although the subtitles in Spanish ended up driving me to insanity. I'd been expectant to go see Les Mis since I found out they were making the movie and I wasn't dissppointed at all. I haven't seen the musical (yes, condemn me for living in London and not seeing it) nor read the book to I went to the cinema with no pre concieved notions about anything.
The whole movie is grand but simple in a way. Everything is done to the last detail; all the sets, the bird views of Paris, the opening sequence with the boat, the barricades... But at the same time, while you are watching, you aren't thinking how obvious it is that what you are seeing is a special effect; you don't take too much time to wonder at the cinematography or costumes because you are absolutely absorbed by the characters and their performances. The singing was so truthfull and felt that soon you get used to it and it seems natural; I think that recording the sound with the image at the same time, and not at a studio, has helped this sense of reality and marriarge between the singing and the characters and the emotion.
I was nicely surprised when I found out that the costume design was done by a Spanish designer called Paco Delgado. He is already a big name in Spain, having worked with Almodovar in Bad Education and his latest film, The Skin I Live In. Other directors he has worked with include Gonzalez Iñarritu in Biutiful and Alex de la Iglesia in Balada Triste de Trompeta. He studied in Barcelona and worked for a long time in London.
His first thought about the film were about realism. How the movie needed to be realistic but also have a touch of imagination because it is a musical. He found nearly all of his infuences and inspiration from painting of that age by Goya, Delacroix, Courbet and Ingres, but also visited costume houses in London, Paris and Madrid to find the colours, textures and textiles that were used during that century.
Paco also originally designed all the principal's costumes and they were then sent to be made by a Spanish Tailors, Cornejo. They also made other 800 costumes for the students, beggers, working women... In total, there were around 4500 costumes and they could have up to 1500 people in costume, on set at the same time. A curious anecdote that he narrates is that Hugh Jackman asked him to put some padding into his costume to portray his characters rise of social status.
This is a video of Paco Delgado talking about the costume
These are portraits of the characters by Anne Leibovitz for Vogue USA
I leave you with Anne Hathaway and I dreamed a dream, which brought so much tears to my eyes. It is the perfect union between the singing and the emotion, they literally become one. I can almost feel Fantine's soul coming out of her mouth with every note.