"Monty Cristo" here again...
The reason I point out "heard" in that headline is that, as much fancy 3D footage as I saw last week, this particular thing stood out due to the way it sounded. Universal is taking a gamble on Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper, who has made the artistic choice to record all of his actors singing live on set, rather than dubbing and autotuning later.
This is a landmark moment inthe history of the cinema musical. I can think of few times in the modern sound era when this has been done, aside from James Brown doing one song this way in THE BLUES BROTHERS.
This is also an enormous gamble if you ask some, but from where I sit, I have to say that it's about damn time.
I've enjoyed loads of musicals for decades, but they all suffer from the same design issue: they all play like feature-length music video playlists, hermetically sealed in the glossy, pretty world of the same old song and dance (quite literally).
The teaser is very brief, showing brief clips of Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean as a prisoner with a shaved head and as a gentleman later, Russell Crowe's Inspector Javert scowling, and Anne Hathaway as tragic Fantine in various stages of despair. The audio that plays over the action is her unvarnished, raw rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream", which could not be more different than the Susan Boyle rendition that is most vivid in the mass audience's memory. It's affected, bruised, and profoundly sad. It is easily the most impressive screen singing that Hathaway has done yet, and I think most of that is owed to it not being muddled with studio "enhancement".
For those who are bored by screen musicals (or simply don't find them immersive), I think much of that is due to it lacking the truly cathartic, raw experience of hearing it live. It really does make a difference to hear it that way.
They're only a couple of weeks into shooting, and from what studio types were saying at the presentation, they are very nervous about how this "radical" take will be received. If you ask me, they should debut it on live TV during something like THE VOICE. I'll go so far as to say that they're nuts if they don't.
As much as you have all gotta see LIFE OF PI footage to believe it, I can't wait for you all to HEAR this.
UPDATE: Not shown in the footage was newcomer Samantha Barks as Eponine, whose casting I wrote about back in late January.