Friday, January 18, 2013

You never know when something is gonna knock you a loop, and having witnessed the great Les Miserables in its original run on Broadway over 60 times one would think there would be few surprises in store for me upon watching the film adaptation. No I'm not obsessed, well maybe a little, but you see I was a volunteer for the American Theatre Wing and had the honor of chaperoning underprivileged children to their first Broadway shows (a very rewarding experience). So I thought I was used to all the tragedy that's happens on that stage. Seeing the film version, left few surprises at least in the plot for me and seeing it brought to beautiful and wonderful perfection on screen Christmas Day was something I will forever treasure, especially cause they actually got it right...for once. 
But watching it yesterday, for the first time since, on my SAG screener, something I never expected occurred that knocked me like a ton of bricks. In the midst of the big battle, when Gavroche, the angelic boy is killed by the French military the tragedy of Newton struck home. The recent murders in Connecticut smacked me literally in the face. The beautiful child who had just sung his last words on screen was no longer just a character in a story, he had become the representation of the children of Newton for me. And what had always been just one of a multitude of emotional moments in the plot now became simply too real. I imagined the slaughtered children, and I was overcome with emotion far beyond what had ever happened before. In my mind I now visualized the children being literally torn asunder by that pathetic madman who did such a horrible thing. 
Listening to what happened to those children, especially hearing the parents describing the 'remains' of their babies, one would think that would be real enough for anyone. But seeing that beautiful young boy on the screen, being gunned down, that made what occured real. I understand the weaponry is different, but seeing that child who had just entertained me struck down was like nothing I can ever remember. And for me any and all discussions in the matter have ended. From now on whenever I watch the film, or even listen to my many versions (get the original French, astonishing) the face of Gavroche will always remind me of those 20 beautiful souls, and I will treasure the show even more for now its not just a show, for me it has become real.
Now I ponder how this change in perspective alters my future viewings of my favorite musical. Will it forever taint it's greatness or has it actually made the experience more real and therefore possibly even greater, because now its real and not fiction.  And isn't that what art is supposed to do.
Just one man's opinion
© Neil Feigeles, Neilizms, Friday January 18, 2013