On Christmas day, after a very relaxing morning opening presents and having a bit of brunch, we trekked to the local theater to see Les Misérables, a film we've been waiting to see since the first announcements it was in production. We've seen the musical performed on stage twice and the soundtrack has been a family favorite for many years. Victor Hugo's classic tale set in early 19th Century France follows Jean Valjean along his tortured road to redemption and the various people with whom he comes into contact - he shaped by them and they fundamentally transformed by him. It is a story of compassion, injustice, hope, despair, duty, mercy, cruelty, grace and profound love.
The movie now in theaters features some additional songs when compared with the long-running musical that has moved audiences for nearly thirty years but they fit the tone and mood of the beloved musical seamlessly. The last chorus of the Finale (Do You Hear the People Sing (Reprise)) has also been changed to give it a more explicit message of final-victory-in-faith and I think it works very, very well.
Anne Hathaway plays Fantine and gives the most heart wrenching, anguished performance I think I've ever seen on stage or screen. Hugh Jackman's transformation from embittered ex-con to devoted father and protector to forgiven soul is simply remarkable.
I am deeply moved every time I listen to the songs and dwell on the message they convey and this time was as impactful as ever. And just like every other time I've heard them I couldn't help but swell with emotion as Valjean and Fantine sing the greatest line I've ever heard in song -- "To love another person is to see the face of God!"
Merry Christmas, my friends. I hope the coming year is full of blessings for you regardless the many challenges facing us. Perhaps they are best seen as opportunities to extend love, mercy and forgiveness to those around us as we are loved and have been forgiven by our Great Lord and Savior! Amen!