Based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo, "Les MisÚrables" was adapted in Paris as a 1980 stage musical by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boubil and Herbert Kretzmer. Urged by its success, the production moved to England in 1985, and then to Broadway in 1987, where it earned eight Tony Award wins. Sixteen years and 6,680 performances later, the musical finally shuttered, at the time becoming the second-longest production (after "Cats") to ever hit New York City. A veritable smash hit that led to a 2006-2008 revival on the Great White Way, "Les MisÚrables" has become a mainstay of musical theatre, constantly touring the United States and racking up big sales wherever it goes. With this kind of popularity, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood decided to mount a big-screen version. Coming through and making it happen were Universal Pictures, director Tom Hooper (2010's "The King's Speech"), and writer William Nicholson (2000's "Gladiator"), in essence tweaking ever so slightly the structure and soundtrack to fit the cinematic composition. In a risky but exciting decision, Hooper opted to shoot all of his actors singing live rather than lip-synching to pre-recorded playback, thus increasing the immediacy and authenticity of their performances. In this regard, the gamble paid off, with certain actors never better than they are right here. In addition, this rendering is as bold and lavish as a long-time fan could possibly expect; there are some scenes that are truly eye-popping in their breadth and feeling.
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