12 January 2013 4:07 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Tom Hooper's gamble of filming Les Misérables with on-set singing has resulted in a work of unusual power and colour

Asked who was France's greatest poet, André Gide responded with the famously rueful answer: "Victor Hugo, hélas!" Cameron Mackintosh, the impresario who brought Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel's Les Misérables to London and transformed it into a worldwide phenomenon after its mild Parisian success and disastrous British first-night reception, would give a rather more positive response. I was in that first-night audience on 30 September 1985, and shared the general opinion that it was an indifferent show, shallow and somewhat forced in tone. I emerged with only one song planted in my head, Master of the House, sung by Alun Armstrong as Thénardier, the outrageously opportunist innkeeper, a number that struck me as rather like You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two from Oliver!

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- Philip French

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