Thursday, February 14, 2013

Les Miserables in books, music, and free videos - for Kindle, Kindle Fire and other tablets...last UPDATED Feb 11-14, to add DVD/Blu-Ray info, more unusual video clips + history + info re the inspiration for both Hugo's Javert AND Valjean, plus a reconsideration of Crowe's Javert

UPDATE - Feb. 15 and March 4 2013
The Blu-Ray and DVD of the movie version Dec 2012 is ready for pre-order  See details.
Les Miserables cast's One Day More at the Oscars

KINDLE BOOKS (All are Unabridged)

Quality formatting and proofing

~200 illustrations  $2.99

Rose translation w/ raves

No Kindle version, $12.24

MAXNotes - guide
, $3.00
Also, all 140 results

UPDATE, 1/25/13 - to add more information and quite a few more performance links that I've picked up since the book and music became so popular as a result of Hooper's film, plus a very funny parody that will be appreciated by those who love OR hate the movie.  Additional links include the slower songs from the work and a playlist of the full Les Miserables from the well-sung 10th Anniversary production.

  The paperback for Julie Rose's modern translation of Hugo's book has a different cover now, so I've replaced that image.  The former image used is seen on the hardcover and comes with a recent blurb.  Someday, I'll post Javert's musings at the end, comparing the modern translation to an older one.

UPDATE, 1/4/13 - to add a live "Confrontation" scene by Jackman and Crowe at the Sydney Premiere After-Party. Also added links to 4 other videoclips from good past performances ('new' ones are noted in red) plus info on the man who inspired Hugo's Javert AND Valjean characters.

UPDATE for a Correction, 12/29/12 - Commenter Diane, a teacher, pointed out that Amazon credited the wrong translator on the HarperCollins 99c book that was highlighted yesterday.  It's not Julie Rose, although Amazon's quotes from "Editorial Reviews" are entirely about her translation.

(Original posting was on Dec. 28, 2012 and is modified, below.)

  Rose's translation is not in Kindle format, however.  It's had a lot of attention and many prefer this modernized version (and some say, at times too modernized), so I'm linking to the Paperback version available at Amazon.
  Julie Rose talks about her work on Hugo's book. [End of Update]

To do this blog article, I looked through a lot of the product pages's descriptions and customer reviews.

Update 2/3/13 - on the free Kindle edition
  I didn't include the free Kindle book initially because customer reviews complained it was only 218 pages (abridged) and had many errors and that Amazon was showing the wrong cover.  Someone mentioned no Table of Contents, which made their downloaded edition hard to navigate.

  Commenter Leelas reported that the current free Kindle Edition looks unabridged and the translation is by Hapgood.  I checked my copy and compared between two editions and have replied to Leelas with a bit more info that indicates Amazon changed the free Kindle book edition and book cover shown on that product page after those customer complaints.  So, this is worth the download at this point. [End of Update 2/3/2013]

  I bought the illustrated one [#1] by Carefully Crafted Classics because the Hapgood translation has a good rep for completeness (though some might prefer this long book be cut) and the publishers have a heavy focus on proofreading and formatting and give full place names instead of previously censored 1-letter ones.  They've also included about 200 illustrations "from early print editions" and "included an essay on Hugo's life and work, illustrated with many images of the author and his family."  That kind of care is worth the $2.99 for me.

  You can take a look inside the book image (#2 in the table) to see an example of illustrations and nicely done Table of contents, with sub-chapters linked.  The illustration titles are given, some linked in the in the product-page sample to a page that's displayable.

  The new translation by Julie Rose, published in paperback by Modern Library in 2009, gets high marks by professional reviewers and by customers, getting 4.4 stars average from customers reviewing it.  I bought the Kindle edition that is mis-identified as Rose's and returned it, per Amazon's return-policies on Kindle books (within 7 days).

  I've bought Rose's in paperback so I can reference it when puzzled by my Kindle copy, translated by Hapgood in that beautiful Carefully Crafted Classics edition, in case I'm puzzled by a paragraph and want to compare it against the translation that will be more readily understood by speakers today.

* Update - 12/28/12
There's also a Denny translation liked by some, but it's abridged (removing about 15% of the text and placing some of the many digressions to the back of the book), but an example given seemed more convoluted to me than the Wilbur translation also quoted, and it's $11.  I prefer to skim or skip when I want and would prefer the entire book be presented.  Anyway, I'm hoping this is a good start for your own search if, like me, you've not read Hugo's book earlier.

Penguin now has a "movie tie-in" cover-image on their ABRIDGED Denny translation.

  There have been signs that Penguin will be experimenting with the pricing while the movie's still in demand (It opend in Switzerland 2/13 and Mexico 2/14).  But their abridged edition promises less, overall, than the first book on the table above, which is $2.99 currently and than the free edition too.

If interested in Hugo's Les Miserables, do take a look at the first two Kindle books highlighted in the boxes.  The first one is done with excellent formatting and care, has extras galore, and the other uses a new translation that's been getting praise.

The third book is a study guide - "MAXnotes cover the essentials of what one should know about each work, including an overall summary, character lists, an explanation and discussion of the plot, the work's historical context, illustrations to convey the mood of the work, and a biography of the author. Each chapter is individually summarized and analyzed..."

It's amazing to me how many customer reviewers in high school, while not liking being assigned such a long, heavy book, ended up describing it as the "most wonderful book ever" and couldn't put it down.  As you've probably figured out, I'd never read it.


Highlights from the film

20 Tracks. Lyrics page.

: Orig London Cast
Full version here

10th Anniv
, Full/Singles
Also, all 73 albums

CAVEAT: The highlights from the current movie soundtrack (which had huge attendance results on opening day, Christmas, breaking several records), will be more raw in sound, as the songs are primarily acted with less attention spent on musical sound.
  Added a lyrics page.  NEW

  So, it's not intended for pleasure-listening in the usual way.  Some of the singing, from a couple of the leads, is effortful (in keys too high for them) and a couple of people use more vibrato or tremulo than I like, but Director Tom Hooper has raw emotion as the focus and some will enjoy the soundtrack as a memento and to hear or own yet another interpretation.

  Crowe's Javert differs from what we're used to, in more than (un)comfortable projection of high notes.   Although Hugo's Javert shows up everywhere, reminding me of The Terminator, model 1832,  Crowe eventually humanizes (as does Hugo) what is normally just a dull, one-note, plodding but aggressive character who can't bear to see in grays, having him instead express his exasperation through interior monologues -- "prayers" for constancy and a one-true-path universe -- rather than indulging in the usual precise, blustering rants.

  This actually works better with the untenable inner conflicts that ultimately come when nothing is as it "should" be.  And leads to the different, quieter interpretation where Javert is mainly doing his 'duty' as he sees it 'must' be, to set things right.  This is the Javert who surprises with what he does with the medal and it makes more sense with the torment that leads to his end.

  Two roads diverge and Hugo's Javert can't choose either one because he's unable to accept either his having let Valjean go earlier -- invalidating his entire belief system and way of life -- or actually turning him in after Valjean saved his life.

  In the book, he tells Valjean that he'd rather have been shot by him.  But it was the scene with the medal that got to me.  I read that this was Crowe's decision; it wasn't in the book, but it works well with Javert's final decision.  My thoughts at a good LesMis forum when discussing whether the medal-pinning was in character or not (if you've not seen the movie yet, it's better not to read it).

  See the videos section here for Crowe's studio version of Stars sung with piano-only, placed on Youtube after much flak about his lower-energy Javert.  I often prefer this now to the one-note, nasal bulldog Javert usually heard (although I like Roger Allam from the Original London Cast).
  In the movie version, the raw meaning of the words trumped stage-vocal-production values.

Earlier stage productions
Except for a brief mention below, I'm not including links to DVDs from various concerts and studio recordings, as what's here is probably more than enough to give an idea and you can find them at Amazon.

  My personal favorite of the mp3 albums I've listened to (most of them) is the Original London Cast recording (1985).  This Original version has slightly slower renditions, but some prefer it because you can hear more of the musical details and words (very crisp).

  There are many who love the 10th Anniversary Concert recording the most, for its highly-trained singers, but for this kind of music I slightly prefer the London version, which also has really good singers.  There's no concert video of that 1985 London version available though.

Some higher-brow types frown on the manipulation of emotions involved in both the stage play and movie, but that's usually a goal of musicals, which are, by nature, more simplified.  Still, nowhere is this simplification and melodrama more apparent than in serious opera!  I think some who mind it in musicals don't mind it when they're sung in a language they can't understand.   :-)
  I'm not sure one can exaggerate the horrors of the time and place Hugo described so intensely.  His own writing is 'over the top' too.  But it can come across trivialized for some when you set it to music.

This Kindle-focused blog will include more than e-readers and books now, as the tablets are very popular also, and these can do it all, although not easy book-reading in sunlight, although that's somewhat more possible for short periods of time with the newer technology.

 And now to hear non-costly previews of some of the music from various earlier performances, for those interested in that after seeing the movie.

UPDATE - Feb. 15, 2013
The Blu-Ray and DVD of the movie version Dec 2012 is ready for pre-order

Les Miserables (Two-disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet - US (Mar. 22) and UK (no due date yet)  

  This multi-format pack is $4 more than the single DVD version, which is an option on the page, but it won't be long before most have bought Blu-Ray players to match today's HDTVs and which are no longer expensive and come with WiFi capabilities often.


VIDEOS from the various concert versions

UPDATE - Extras
The Les Miserables cast sings One Day More at the Oscars show.

  For those who enjoy "The Confrontation" scene from the musical, here are Hugh Jackson and Russell Crowe doing a live, very echo-y version at the After-Party following the Sydney premiere.  Somewhat subdued in the film, Crowe rocks it in this one.  Both are delightful in a casual setting.  Here's an alternate performance (the most fun one), in Joe's Pub, at the Indoor Garden party; it isn't complete but has less echo (someone pointed out that Barks is enjoying it too in the back) and a 3rd one, from Crowe's side of the pub (Yah, I enjoy the pub versions).  RECENT
  The lyrics to this scene.  More recent

AND, Crowe, in an interview, mentions discovering the person whose life has been said to be Hugo's inspiration for both the Javert and Valjean characters -- Eugène François Vidocq.  His life apparently inspired lead characters in a few other novels too.

  Crowe recently pointed Twitter followers to his studio rendition of Stars with piano after taking much flak for his unusual interpretation.  (See Crowe's Javert above.)  NEW

  For something completely different, here's opera's Bryn Terfel, singing Stars against a horrible nightclub arrangement of the song.  NEW

  I've also added a hilarious parody of Les Miserables's One Day More that should tickle both those who love the movie/musical and those who hate it.  NEW

  Also, a fairly funny video, by two brothers, of their parents still weepy in the car after seeing the movie.  Gone viral and reported by many mainstream news-sites. RECENT

  Had added Samantha Barks's Eponine in "On My Own" from 25th Anniversary Concert and two clips from the Epilogue segments of the 10th and 25th Anniversary specials.
  UPDATED - The 25th Anniversary videos, up for some time, were removed for copyright concerns (the DVD is actively sold) after this blog article linked to them.  Someone else wrote that she uploaded some replacements but if I link to them, they'll no doubt be taken down.

  The Royal Variety show excerpts for the Queen, using 25th Anniversary cast members (2010), are still there so I've used the full version I found.  NEW
  The movie version of On My Own, a poignant "friendzone" lament (timeless) is sung in a much more subtle way than the staged versions, even for a street urchin, and I've added the Youtube audio of that w/stills.  More recently added

1. One Day More - 10th Anniversary Concert (1995).  Earlier-uploaded videos w/ higher views and many comments are often harder to see or hear well.
  The Valjean is sung by Colm Wilkinson, the original one, from 10 years earlier.  (He was still in pretty good form, at age 67, in the encores for the 25th Anniversary Concert, and still holding those long notes forever, in an endearingly hammy way.  In the current movie, Wilkinson plays the kind, influential bishop.

  For anyone who also wants to hear it, there's a dramatic/theatrical prologue to this group number.

2. The Confrontation between Valjean and Javert (done w/ precision, and with lyrics subtitled) from the 10th Anniversary Concert.  More recently added

3. I Dreamed a Dream by Ruthie Henshall from the same anniversary concert (which the uploader follows with a seldom-seen videoclip from the older DVD documentary on the making of the musical, On My Own, sung by an uncommonly refined Eponine (street urchin), who is another victim in this story but one who, in her youth, was fairly cruel to the young Fantine, and their roles in life reversed).  Some of the commenters like this interpretation the best.  It's a more cautious one.

4. On My Own - by Samantha Barks from the 25th Anniversary Concert.   (The 25th anniversary version was *Removed* by Youtube.]
  Here, instead, is the full audio version of On my Own from the movie with a still photo (and links to buy the tune).  What's better is that the full lyrics are included.  I love the orchestration with the viola? supporting the melody with falling steps.

  While singing to the rafters for theater, her piece is more effective in the movie for the quieter-singing and apt pauses, w/ more attention to the lyrics about her imagination getting her through, before building to the end with the loud lament of a rejected street kid emotionally ignored by her scheming parents, the Thenardiers.  Not many movie goers are aware that in Hugo's book, little Gavroche is her brother.  This would be poignant for the parents if they weren't the Thenardiers. :-)  NEW

5. Empty Chairs and Empty Tables (Marius) - - Here's an audio version of Eddie Redmayne's extremely effective piece from the movie, also with stills (and links there to buy the song) and with the full lyrics included.  Well matched stills.  This brought it home for me more than when listening to theater productions of the work.

  Before that scene, there's a cafe scene (Red/Black) with the group planning the rebellion, which has a song I don't like (as music) that involves the banter among the group.  Someone put up a clever set of stills from the movie though, with the lyrics sung by each person in talk bubbles!, and this is helpful since it's hard to know what they're saying when hearing this tune either on stage or in the movie.

  The failed student rebellion involved was in 1832 and isn't the famous 'French Revolution' (1789) nor the revolution in 1848 which was successful, for a time, and which is what you see as the ending scene in Les Miserables (joined by the spirits of 1832), 16 years after the 1832 rebellion sowed the seeds.

  The 1832 uprising was due to food shortages after a failed harvest and a cholera epidemic left over 18,000 people dead in Paris alone.  The increased cost of living that followed was especially hard on the poor (Les Miserables).  NEW

6. Valjean's final scene: Colm Wilkinson (the Bishop in the movie) and Ruthie Henshall as Fantine, from the 10th Anniversary Concert.  With subtitles.  More recently added

7. Do you hear the people sing? in the reprise/Epilogue from the 10th Anniversary Concert (~1995, 2-disc edition 2008), with subtitles.

8. Final trio chorale and chorus: Valjean (Boe), Fantine (Salonga), Eponine (Barks), from the 25th Anniversary Concert (2010). *Removed*

  So, here's
      the epilogue from the movie (scene from Yr-1848) showing just the lyrics to 'Do you hear the people sing' as the music is sung and the spirits of 1832 join in the celebration.

9. Encore - 10th Anniversary concert (1995) - The 17 International Valjeans sing, each representing a country via a couple of solo lines each, in the two popular group numbers.

NEWER performances below

10. Encore - 25th Anniversary Cast (2010) joined by the Original 1985 London Cast for a big group number after the Valjeans Quartet, both shown in this clip.  (The Quartet and large-group number came after that concert's own 17 International Valjeans went up on stage to sing another 15 years later, but I don't see a video of that 17 on Youtube.) *Removed*

  In that clip, the Valjeans Quartet does Bring him Home, with Alfie Boe, 25th Anniversary's Valjean blowing the crowd away when he joins in, in a higher key, letting go with that powerful tenor versus his quieter solo singing of that song, which is essentially a prayer, sung over a sleeping Marius -- changed in 2012's movie to a shouted piece overlooking a street scene of Marius with the rebellion.

  The other three in the quartet are Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones, and Simon Bowman.
  Their group interaction of lead-soloists accepting secondary lines is fun to watch.

  But here's a better, standalone, videoclip of the Quartet (the clip described just above included an introduction and context + subtitles), but this has clearer image quality though you have to "X" out of a bottom-ad and there are no subtitles on this clip. *Removed* [Looking for replacement]

  Then the big number:  the Original London Cast (OLC), 25 years older, still sounding great, is joined by umpteen (literally) Valjeans from other casts plus the 25th Anniversary group to do a number on, so to speak, the usual two audience rousers -- "One Day More" and, as seen from an audience seat, "Do You Hear the People Sing?" ... followed by confetti and stage-front fireworks.

Where are other quieter, more interior songs?

  1. Here's "In My Life" and "Heart Full of Love" from the 10th Anniversary production, uploaded from South Korea with subtitles.  Michael Ball (Marius), Lea Salonga (Eponine), Judy Kuhn (Cosette).

  2. Come to Me 10th Anniversary cast.

  3. The Epilogue/Finale from the 10th Anniversary production.

  4. And here's the FULL 10th Anniversary performance of Les Miserables, in a playist, playable as singles (a legal requirement), with selection list on the side.

Some on youtube try to provide almost complete sets of videos of earlier stage performances.  Some are blocked in certain countries.  In most of the lists, a few performances will be mis-identified with those from other performances.

The 25th anniversary DVD has the best sound and is in HD video, but it also has Nick Jonas as Marius, a controversial decision but apparently one that grew the Les Mis audience, and though he's no theater singer and seemed to be reading every word on a teleprompter and not finishing sung phrases, he was probably more convincing as very young and naive than most who sing this role professionally and at least has a clear voice.  It was a strong cast otherwise.

 . Original London Cast in video'd rehearsals - by TV's 20/20 ~1986 song segments

 . Original London Cast - The Reunion, along with revolving barricade (dropped for San Francisco, 2012). (Audience view - interesting angle but tinny sounding.)

 . An AP video report on the stage rehearsals

 . A 1985 television segment featuring the OLC in rare rehearsal footage, including the "Heart Full of Love" Trio between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, with a Michael Ball so young I didn't recognize him.  Opening Night interviews also.

  . Original Fantine (Patti LuPone) sings "I dreamed..." at the 1991 Royal Variety Performance.

  . 25th Anniversary Concert Rehearsal with Alfie Boe, Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Lea Salonga et al (but no Norm Lewis excerpt)  NEW

 . The full Royal Variety performance by the 25th Anniversary 2010 cast
Alfie Boe as an angry, just-released Valjean -- with a modern abstract but colorful stage set.  The live theater sound is very effective here, and it's a gripping performance he gives.
    - Samantha Barks (Eponine in the movie also) is the Eponine here, singing "On my Own" in this Royal Variety Performance 2010 video, the year she and Boe also sang these roles in the 25th Anniversary Concert (on DVD/Blu-Ray).   In a section above, I explain why I prefer the interpretation in the movie version.

    - Lots of excerpts for the Queen and it included the Quartet of Valjeans again.  I hadn't come upon this one before, but then I didn't know a thing about this musical a year ago.

  Here's the FULL Les Miserables set of songs for the event from start to finish but with three jarring cuts for some reason.  NEW
  The NO-cuts version, with somewhat weaker sound but using HD resolution (for std broadcast).  The first one sounds more 'live.'

That should do?

  . Getting and installing non-Amazon apps
  . How to install Flash Player - (a workaround for the 2nd generation of Kindle Fire tablets and new Android tablets like the Google Nexus, after Adobe dropped support for Flash on mobile devices).

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
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    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. Thanks for the 'Les Misérables' links. Saw the movie a couple of days ago and it is really amazing adaptation, fantastic performances. Huge Actman (as I call him) is sure to get nominated for an Oscar, if not win. For people who can't fathom reading a 1729 page book, there's always the Classics Illustrated version (99 cents):

  2. Tom, I love that alternate name for Jackson!

    I haven't seen Les Miserables yet, and I'm not a big fan of Daniel Day Lewis, but by the 2nd half of the movie, it really got to me -- or maybe starting in the scene where he was talking to the telegraph guys. I'm not sure why I was so affected by it! I don't read about a movie before seeing it, so that I'm completely surprised by anything that happens (but of course I know the Les Mis story already :-) ) and even though I knew how the vote came out!, I was thinking, Wow, this director is amazing. Only to find out later it was Spielberg.

    I think Huge A. will have a hard time against DDL for the award but probably has a 50-50 chance, which is, um, Huge.

    I just looked at and did screen shots of a two-page-display (on KFire 8.9") of the chapter on the Thenadiers. SO easy to read that way, and Hugo is really fun to read, which I hadn't known.

    The image of Hugo in the book is definitely not a cheerful one! But I've looked at only 4 illustrations out of 200. That is a beautiful Kindle edition for $2.99...

    Thanks for the tip on the Classics Illustrated version. Will probably add it later (as I did the strange activity on Penguin's today!)

    Good to know you liked the movie. I'll see it by the 5th...

  3. When I preview the 99-cent kindle version linked above, it isn't the Rose translation. I really want that one, but it doesn't seem to be available at any price. Is the preview incorrect?

    1. Diane, thanks for the headup. I compared two chapters last night (key ones) between the Hapgood one and the allegedly Rose one and couldn't find any differences. And you've solved that puzzle. I can't believe HarperCollins doesn't even mention which translation it is. But Amazon mis-identified it, and I'll let them know -- and will change that table to show it's not a Kindle book, as it's available in paperback at Amazon.

      Thanks for taking the time to write and point this out.

  4. To Michele, the link you included is one that many are now finding malware killers for and trying to get rid of the optimum installer.

  5. Is the free version really abridged?

    I counted the chapters and they numbered the same as all the unabridged versions. Also, the free version from Amazon is the Hapgood translation, which you say is complete.

  6. Leelas, the box shows that under the 'free' Kindle book header they are selling here several versions supposedly of that free book in print or audio, and some are abridged.

    Check out the 1-star ratings -- they point to several publisher versions that are all under this product page listing.
    A couple of people pointed out that the "Kindle" edition is (was) much shorter.

    But, getting back to the current free Kindle edition (with NO Amazon word on the product page as to who translated it and whether it is abridged or not though the preview shows the translator), people refer to different cover art, so Amazon has thrown all kinds of things in here -- including a Barnes and Noble abridged paperback edition; two different audio versions, both abridged, and Modern Library's hardcover version (none of these matching the free Kindle version although this is normally reserved for paper and audio versions of the same Kindle product).

    Another customer review, in that 1-star area, reports that the Kindle version is about 218 pages though they let people view a 1500-page maybe-Signet paperback version in e-form.

    Another mentions that the translation "was a mess" in the Kindle Edition that the customer bought. It goes on like that.

    But Amazon changes things on the product page without noting that they have, and so I looked at my own free Kindle version downloaded in November and this one is published by Thomas Y.Crowell & Col, Copyright 1887 and it IS translated by Hapgood and is long but Amazon doesn't describe it and apparently changed the Kindle Edition at some point after all the complaints.

    At the Hapgood mentions in the reviews for this product page, people complain that the Hapgood translation wasn't noted and they don't give it high marks, but it is now a bit archaic in that Hugo used the colloquialisms and slang of the day but we get "thou" instead of "you" too often, as if that were the more informal addressing used.

    However, Hapgood's translation does have a decent rep and it is beautifully presented in the Carefully Crafted Classics edition with the 200 illustrations from book plates of the time placed in each chapter and with more added original biographical material (and several photos) on Hugo and his family and longtime love.

    The free Kindle version has one advantage - Each chapter of a book in the Contents area has an English title, not true with the CCC edition, which gives only the Chapter number. But with the latter, there are illustrations for all chapters that come from the earlier printed books and which pertain to the chapter topic (and they're really charming and even beautiful) and each one is linked to in the list of 200 illustrations along with the illustration's title.

    I would think that the newest free Kindle edition isn't abridged but the publisher doesn't state this, which is odd. CCC does confirm that theirs is unabridged.

    In the Kindle Edition, there are footnotes, but they are translations of French within a chapter. There are 70 of them. I found that the CCC edition has these in brackets immediately after the French paragraph, right in the body of the book.

    Thanks for writing on this! I'll add this week what you've found vs what was said in the reviews about the Kindle version, or link people to the Comments area and link here for now to the most recent free Kindle book edition we're discussing.


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