Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Growing Fondness for... Javert?

I listened to the Les Miserables CD in the car with the kids the last few mornings, and I realized yesterday, as I searched out my favorite tracks, that I was seeking all the songs with bits of Javert singing in them.  Stuff like "The Confrontation" and "Javert at the Barricade."  And, of course, "Stars."  I went around singing, "Shoot me now or shoot me later -- every schoolboy to his spot.  Death to each and every traitor!  I renounce your people's plot" over and over in my head for much of yesterday.  And not cuz I was having a bad day, just cuz I like how vehement it is.

This is all Russell Crowe's fault.

I realized when I got the soundtrack for my birthday that I actually like Russell Crowe's singing voice better than Hugh Jackman's.  No worries -- I still love Hugh Jackman greatly, and I do enjoy his singing in this movie... it's just that his singing voice is a little too nasal for my taste.  But Russell Crowe's voice is richer and more colorful, resonant, plummy and yummy.  "Stars" has gone from one of my least-favorite songs from the musical to one of my favorites.

And now I've realized I no longer dislike Javert.  I actually sympathize with him.  Ack!  I picked up a copy of the novel a couple weeks ago, and while I doubt I'll get to it before next year, I'm really looking forward to seeing if my perceptions of the character have truly changed, or if I'll go back to disliking him and being 100% Team Valjean.

Meanwhile, here's a song-only version of "Stars."  Next time I watch the movie, I'm going to watch that scene with my eyes closed so I'm not distracted by the bad staging I complained about here.  I think it will work much better that way.

After listening to this a lot lately, I think that maybe Russell Crowe focused so much on the singing side of his performance that he didn't have any concentration/energy left for the acting part, leading to the much more restrained performance in that scene than I'd wanted.  If they hadn't recorded the singing live, who knows how different that scene might have been.  Or maybe it was just staged really boringly and there was no help for it no matter what.  But the song... oh, the song.  Yowza.

Okay, just to highlight the contrast between Jackman and Crowe's voices, here's their dueling duet:

Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe -- how could you do this to me?


  1. I loved the way Russell Crowe played Javert--emotionless, just like he was in the book. Or, the way I saw him in the book. :) I never saw Javert as a bad guy, just a man who never knew or understood mercy. I liked that Russell Crowe didn't overplay it or get too emotional, even in suicide.

    But I have to say, I liked Hugh Jackman's voice better...but I can see what you mean in "Confrontation." I hadn't heard just the vocals before.

    1. Yes, I recall him being quite cold in the book, which is probably why I didn't like him. And so yes, Crowe's restraint worked nicely.

      I do like Hugh's voice, and he pulls off "Bring Him Home" and "Who Am I?" particularly well. But Crowe's pleases me more.

  2. Thank you for the You Tube links. I enjoyed listening to "Stars".

    I see what you mean about Crowe's voice sounding richer, but I don't detect Jackman's voice as being nasal.

    Javert did not have mercy and compassion, so life did not return any to him. Everything makes its way back to its source.

    Great post as usual!

    1. Thanks, Xenia!

      Maybe not nasal. Maybe Hugh's singing voice is just thinner than his speaking voice, not as resonant, and that's why I don't like it as well as Crowe's. Because Hugh's speaking voice fills me with joy <3

  3. I'm a big fan of Russell Crowe's voice. I was most skeptical about him, but I was quite impressed. I'm not really a fan of Hugh's "Bring Him Home". But otherwise I think he's great.
    My favourite male voice though would have to be Enjolras-Aaron Tveit. His is perfect, very controlled and effortless. He hardly looks like he's singing live!
    Beth xxx

    1. Aaron Tveit was definitely amazing! Very convincing, and probably one of the best voices in the cast.

  4. Wow. Russell's singing voice is pretty great! I hadn't heard him before so I'm glad you shared the videos. In the duet, I would definitely say his voice really worked better over Hugh's. When I heard Russell was going to be in a musical, I couldn't imagine what his singing would be like. It's nice to know what he sounds like now! :)

    1. I know, didn't he do well? I was surprised and pleased. I knew he sang in a rock band, but rock music and operetta music are not at all the same. Glad you enjoyed the vids!


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