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Stage by Stage: Les Misérables (1988)

 -  Documentary | Musical
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 58 users  
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An interview with the production team behind the hit Broadway musical as they discuss the conception and development of Les Miserables as a pop-culture phenomenon. Several scenes from the ... See full summary »

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Title: Stage by Stage: Les Misérables (1988)

Stage by Stage: Les Misérables (1988) on IMDb 7.7/10

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An interview with the production team behind the hit Broadway musical as they discuss the conception and development of Les Miserables as a pop-culture phenomenon. Several scenes from the musical have been included. Written by Phil Fernando

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[opening text crawl] When Les Miserables opened in October 1985 at the Barbican Theatre in London it was panned by many of the critics. They said it would never transfer to the West End, let alone Broadway. Les Miserables is now in production or development in over 70 cities in the world. See more »

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See the show first, then watch this.
16 June 2005 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

WARNING: This video is NOT a concert version of 'Les Misérables'. (At a running time of barely an hour, it couldn't be.) Nor will this video help anyone who needs to do a book report on Victor Hugo's novel and hopes to skive off reading the book. If you haven't seen the remarkable stage musical 'Les Miz' yet, you should NOT watch this video first ... because it will dilute the wonder of some of that show's spectacle. If you *have* seen 'Les Miz' at least once, this video will enable you to enjoy some fond memories one day more. And if you've no expectation of ever seeing the stage show, this video will at least let you enjoy the score's most famous pieces.

This video is basically a long commercial for the stage musical. We get some softball soundbites from crucial figures in its gestation, including the French composer (who shows some difficulty with English) and the librettist (who is annoyingly credited as 'author', as if Victor Hugo had nothing to do with it). These two Frenchmen are filmed standing in front of guess-which building in Paris (go on, have a guess). We're told a grudgingly small amount about Victor Hugo: mostly about the large turnout at his funeral, which isn't especially relevant to 'Les Misérables'. I wish that this video had mentioned that Hugo wrote several of his greatest novels while exiled from France, precisely *because* of the political content of 'Les Misérables' and some of his other works.

Except for a few witty comments from Cameron Mackintosh, the soundbites here are dull and lacking real content. The great appeal of this video is the sampler of musical numbers, each performed by a different international troupe. Oddly, the compilers of this video have chosen to include the Oslo production's version of the single most popular song in this score: so we hear 'One Day More' performed in Norwegian (not Swedish, as another IMDb reviewer said) rather than English, despite Herbert Kretzmer's perceptive comment that the English-language libretto is now the official one.

I was impressed by some intelligent camera work during the musical numbers here, but -- as we only get excerpts -- this video is really just a taste of the riches. If you've seen 'Les Miz' several times and want to collect everything connected with the show, you'll enjoy this video. Otherwise, watching this video without seeing the show *first* will be like picking all the maraschinos off a banana split without eating the banana split! Precisely *because* the musical 'Les Misérables' is so wonderful, I recommend that you do NOT watch this video if you haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing the show in its entirety.


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