Les Misérables London 1985 Stage Musical Edit

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Brief Synopsis:
Les Misérables (2012) London 1985 Stage Musical Edit provides a viewing experience of the Oscar-winning musical film that is as pleasing to the ears as it is to the eyes. Each musical number (about 95% of the film) has been dubbed over with studio or concert recordings from the professionals who have performed the musical on the London and Broadway stages. The video has been lovingly adjusted to sync up with the music, and in the time-honored cinematic tradition of a little suspension of disbelief, we can imagine the actors who brought so much passion to the film were also able to sing their parts without running out of air.
The movie was powerful, the acting great, but the music was severely lacking. The actors were largely not experienced vocalists, and the conditions on set were not adequate to provide a musical treat to the binaural among the viewing audience. The actors were hungry, thirsty, tired, and emotionally drained. There would be no studio dub-over. There would only be take after take, with little-to-no instrumental support. The end result was described as "raw" and "emotional". Well, all I heard was crying, choking, sobbing, screeching, off-pitch, off-tempo, breathing, rasping....you get the idea.

This was to be the Ultimate musical recording of Les Misérables. The musical has never been officially recorded for release, to my knowledge. Most of us have seen the 10th or 25th Anniversary Concert, or maybe the end-of-run 2019 Staged Concert. But none of these have been complete story-musicals with sets and dialogue. Tom Hooper's movie was the only authorized musical full production ever recorded for home viewers.

I have edited this movie to over-dub all the music with studio or concert recordings. My favorite has always been the original 1985 London cast recording. So I have used that music wherever possible. In other places I used the Complete Symphonic Recordings to fill in some gaps. I grabbed a handful of songs and snippets from the 10th Anniversary concert, and finally one song, "On My Own" from the 25th Anniversary Concert.
Other Sources:
Musical Sources and Singers:
1985 Original London Cast
Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean
Roger Allam as Javert
Patti LuPone as Fantine
Alun Armstrong as Thénardier
Susan Jane Tanner as Madame. Thénardier
Frances Ruffelle as Éponine
Ian Tucker as Gavroche
Michael Ball as Marius
David Burt as Enjolras
Rebecca Caine as Cosette
Zoë Hart as Little Cosette
1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
Gary Morris as Jean Valjean
Philip Quast as Javert
Debra Byrne as Fantine
Gay Soper as Mme. Thénardier
Barry James as Thénardier
Ross McCall as Gavroche
Anthony Warlow as Enjolras
Michael Ball as Marius
Kaho Shimada as Éponine
Tracy Shayne as Cosette
Marissa Dunlop as little Cosette
1995 Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (10th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall)
Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean
Philip Quast as Javert
Ruthie Henshall as Fantine
Alun Armstrong as Thénardier
Jenny Galloway as Mme. Thénardier
Adam Searles as Gavroche
Michael Maguire as Enjolras
Michael Ball as Marius
Lea Salonga as Éponine
Judy Kuhn as Cosette
Hannah Chick as Young Cosette
2010 Les Miserables in Concert 25th Anniversary
Samantha Barks as Éponine

Song Selections:
Act I
1. Prologue: Work Song ("Look Down") - 1985 Original London Cast
2. Prologue: On Parole - Freedom is Mine - 1995 Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (10th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall)
3. Prologue: (The Bishop) - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
4. Prologue: Valjean Arrested, Valjean Forgivon - 1985 Original London Cast
5. Prologue What Have I Done? - 1985 Original London Cast
6. At the End of the Day - 1985 Original London Cast (Beginning and Ending); 1995 Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (10th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall) (Middle)
7. Lovely Ladies - 1985 Original London Cast
8. I Dreamed a Dream - 1985 Original London Cast
9. Fantine's Arrest - 1995 Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (10th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall)
10. The Runaway Cart (Part 1) - 1995 Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (10th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall)
11. The Runaway Cart (Part 2) - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
12. Who Am I? – The Trial - 1985 Original London Cast
13. Fantine's Death - 1985 Original London Cast
14. The Confrontation - 1985 Original London Cast
15. Castle on a Cloud - 1985 Original London Cast (Beginning); 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording (Ending)
16. Master of the House - 1985 Original London Cast
17. The Well Scene - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
18. The Bargain / The Thénardier Waltz of Treachery - 1985 Original London Cast (Beginning); 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording (Ending)
19. Stars - 1985 Original London Cast
20. Look Down - 1985 Original London Cast
21. The Robbery / Javert's Intervention - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
22. Éponine's Errand - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
23. The ABC Café / Red and Black - 1985 Original London Cast
24. Rue Plumet – In My Life (Cosette Solo) - 1995 Les Misérables: The Dream Cast in Concert (10th Anniversary at Royal Albert Hall)
25. Rue Plumet – In My Life (duet between Cosette and Valjean) - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording (Beginning and Ending); 1985 Original London Cast (Middle)
26. Rue Plumet – In My Life (duet between Marius and Éponine) - 1985 Original London Cast (Beginning); 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording (Ending)
27. A Heart Full of Love - 1985 Original London Cast
28. The Attack on Rue Plumet - 1985 Original London Cast
29. On My Own - 2010 Les Miserables in Concert 25th Anniversary
30. One Day More - 1985 Original London Cast

Act II
1. Do You Hear the People Sing? - 1985 Original London Cast
2. At the Barricade (Upon These Stones) - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
3. Javert's Arrival - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
4. A Little Fall of Rain - 1985 Original London Cast
5. The First Attack - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
6. Drink with Me - 1985 Original London Cast
7. Bring Him Home - 1985 Original London Cast
8. Dawn of Anguish - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
9. The Second Attack (Death of Gavroche) - 1985 Original London Cast
10. Javert's Suicide (Confrontation) - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
11. Javert's Suicide (Soliloquy) - 1985 Original London Cast
12. Turning - 1985 Original London Cast
13. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables - 1985 Original London Cast
14. Every Day - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
15. Valjean's Confession - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
16. Beggars at the Feast - 1985 Original London Cast
17. Epilogue: Valjean's Death - 1988 Complete Symphonic Recording
18. Finale - 1985 Original London Cast

1. Little People - 1985 Original London Cast
2. Turning - 1985 Original London Cast
3. Dog Eat Dog - 1985 Original London Cast
Special Thanks:
Thank you, Mom. For introducing me to vocal music as a child, encouraging me to sing, and giving me a lasting love of story told through song. It would take half a lifetime for this edit to come together, but my soul has been increased by the time I have spent with the music and themes from Les Misérables.
Release Information:
Editing Details:
When beginning a song, I would simply cut the audio completely and replace it with a pure audio track from the CD at 100% speed. Your brain pleasure responses are more in tune with audio input than visual. So if the integrity of one has to be sacrificed for the sake of the other, it should be the visuals that get sacrificed in the pursuit of good sound (at least, this was my motivation during this edit). Then I manipulated the speed of the video between every syllable during the music to best line up the mouth movements with the beats of the lyrics. When perfect synchronization proved impossible due to actors singing different lyrics written for this movie only, I switched modes to matching up "mouth open" shots with words.

Finally, I would blend the music in and out so the transitions are seamless. CD sources are 2 channel audio, and the Blu-Ray mix is 5.1, so whenever the music fades in, it presents on 2 channels only. The entire movie can be watched on a 6 channel system for best effect, preserving the original sound effects on all channels, but it is perfectly serviceable in Stereo, since you will hear all the music staging either way.

Countless times in the movie, the actors would not hold their notes long enough to even come close to the professional concert recordings. In most cases, I handled it by syncing the beginning of the note with the actors lips, but letting the actor close his/her mouth before the end of the note. This allowed me to let the video source play at approximately normal speed. The alternative is to slow it down to ~25% during the note, and then accelerate to ~400% in between notes. I usually found this effect to be worse. Especially with the shaky-cam effect throughout the entire production, speeding along at 400% makes the background shift unnaturally, as if you were fast-forwarding at 8x or 16x speed. But if I found that the total space from note to note could be achieved in the range of 60%-180% speed, I tried to leave it in that range.

Another way I handled this specific pacing problem occured many times when an actor would take a breath right in the middle of a word or phrase, and completely throw off the tempo of the music. I would try short jump cuts, erasing maybe 1/2 to 1 second of footage at a time. Again, the shaky-cam means that the shot is always in a different place after the cut, so it is always noticeable. In my opinion, this was generally less unacceptable than running that 1 second of footage briefly at 400%. So when you see "jarring" cuts in the middle of a phrase, please understand it is an intentional "artistic" decision on my part to create a more pleasing solution to an impossible problem.
Cuts and Additions:
1. Parole officers following Valjean, and him getting rocks thrown at him, kicked out of an inn, and beaten in the street for no reason. This is extremely rushed, and we're better off without it than rushing through it.
2. "Little People" scene removed (Gavroche riding through the streets). It's pretty cringy, doesn't add anything, and it's so substantially different from the recordings that it couldn't be salvaged. Gavroche still gets to introduce himself during "Look Down", as well as pipe a couple lines from Little People when they capture Javert at the Barricade.
3. Battle scenes drastically shortened; Valjean's sewar crawl scene shortened. These 2 scenes both drag, and there's no dialogue or music, so a bunch of "screen noise" has just been deleted. There's no way you'll ever miss it.

Musical "Gifts":
1. Sacha Baron Cohen gets to sing his intro to "Master of the House". I was going to cut it completely, but it's harmless enough. He's not even terrible here. When it switches to real music, he gets dubbed (that's when he's terrible).
2. Russell Crowe sings "Shoot me now or shoot me later..." after his capture. He's remarkably on key for a couple seconds, so it stays.
3. At the end of "Red and Black", we get to hear Aaron Tveit and some of the other students sing. They aren't too bad, but I did have to pitch correct at the last phrase, "They will come when we call!". While they're passable enough for a phrase, they aren't good enough to handle a powerful song like "Red and Black".
4. "On My Own". In an early version of the edit, I used the recording from London. But after seeing Samantha Barks in the 25th Anniversary concert absolutely slaying this song, I decided she would be better representing herself. After all, she's the only professional singer in the whole cast. She's better in concert than singing while crying in the rain, so it still gets the over-dub. But since it's her dubbing herself, it syncs really well.
5. Finally a chance to hear Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen sing at the wedding feast. I left it because narratively it's good enough, and there's no musical source to replace it with. We get to see Eddie Redmayne punch Sacha in the face, so it's worth it. I over-dub when the singing picks up on the way out to keep our ears from bleeding.

Big Changes:
1. "Lovely Ladies" and "I Dreamed a Dream" are out of order. This was how it was shot. Since Anne Hathaway has hair at the beginning of Lovely Ladies, and no hair during I Dreamed a Dream, I couldn't correct the order like I intended. I have cut out much of the overly-dramatic crying during the hair-cutting, and I cut the tooth-pulling, as these seemed like gratuitous Oscar-bait. The tone of the music doesn't match the overly-dramatic desperation of the prostitutes. This song (where Anne Hathaway cuts her hair "for real") plus "I Dreamed a Dream" are what got this movie an Oscar. Once this is over, things get better. They get their golden statue, the over-actor dies shortly after, and the movie can proceed as normal.
2. "The Runaway Cart (Part 1 & Part 2)" - I have moved Part 1 to play after Fantine's Arrest. Now, we follow Fantine's story from the factory to prostitution, and then we see Javert's working relationship with Valjean turn into suspicion, the cart scene, then Javert's apology without interruption. They made up some lyrical nonsense for this scene, so the lips don't match the music very well. It had to be done, because we can't bear listen to Russell sing again. Hang tight and there's a huge payoff, though, because the way Hugh Jackman sings, he syncs up very well with the recordings. "Who Am I?" starts immediately after Russell's disaster, and it came together so well that it's a high point for the movie.
3. "Fantine's Death" - Anne Hathaway over-acting again. I covered this topic before. She's pretty rough to dub. We get through it, though, and the next song pays for all. "The Confrontation" was shot beautifully, and since they had to choreograph it, it syncs up very well.
4. "Stars" - The words at the end of the song are "This I swear by the stars." In the London recording, the words are "Keeping watch in the night". So what looks like the lips are out of sync is actually completely different words being synced up. It can never be 100% with different mouth movements, but I have synced them up so it's like watching a puppet-show (think ventriliquist) or maybe an Anime (the lips are moving in general, not in specific; the words could be anything).
5. "Drink With Me" runs during Gavroche's death. This scene was totally disjointed in the movie with Gavroche walking through bullets singing "Little People", and needed fixing. This speeds us through it and provides the necessary emotional tone.
6. Javert lamenting over the death of Gavroche is saved for a flashback during "Turning", right after Javert's suicide. This separates that extra emotion from the sewar crawl scene, and brings it back for a second punch. This also gives us time for another verse of "Turning" to play, and we get further narrative about the tragedy of the meaningless deaths of the students ("Where's that new world now the fighting's done?"), right before "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables", where our hearts are finally ripped completely out of our chests and stomped mercilessly on the dusty barroom floor.

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First of all, the insane work that has gone into this is commendable, for sure.
Fixing the constant out of pitch singing of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, in particular, is a great achievement. It turns the film into its best version both in terms of acting and singing.

Some of the highlights of this version, that have absolutely improved the film, are "Who Am I?", “On My Own” (the best scene of this fanedit), the final Javert scene and Marius’ “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables”.

There are many times, however, when the image is too jittery and choppy, because of the need for the lip movements to match the recordings as close as possible (and the required frequent changes in the video playing speed). It’s incredible work, I don’t doubt; but many times along the film, this negatively affected the experience for me.

On a personal note, I don’t agree with the dubbing of the final song between Éponine and Marius. Samantha Barks is a professional singer who performs on Broadway and she nails every note on the original, as expected; and her acting here is actually good. And Eddie Redmayne does a pretty good job on this (short) song as well.

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This was an incredible effort, almost Herculean in scope, and I have to say it's been accomplished infinitely better than I could ever do.

By Assault Bear's own admission, the edits aren't perfect. There are moments chopped and moved, sped up and slowed down, sometimes it seems like for every individual word in a sentence, which is incredible. I gave 9's because of course it's not perfect but I could never in good conscience go lower than a 9, it's just too impressive as a whole. Experiencing the movie with the original recordings like this was such a treat that any choppiness is easily forgiven.

Huge congratulations to Assault Bear for completing this task, I loved it!

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