Les Mis Holiday Adventures – Part 1

I don’t remember when I first learned that “Les Miserables” was coming to the big screen, but I am pretty sure I jumped up and down and screamed like I was a 12 year old girl with a new training bra at a Justin Bieber concert.

I know that there are people who find “Les Mis” to be cheesy. Let me be clear that I am NOT one of those people. If I was on a deserted island that had electricity and a CD player and a wall (because you need to have an outlet somewhere) and I only got to pick one CD, I would pick the original London “Les Mis” cast’s recording in its entirety.

Not to push things, but I might also ask for some chap-stick, a razor and some soap.

When I was 16 and in the High School Choir, our teacher, Mr. Diehl introduced me to “Bring Him Home” from “Les Mis.” It’s the song that the main character, Jean Valjean, sings to God, asking him to save his adopted daughter’s true love. Instead, he asks God to take him, for he had lived his life.

“If I die, let me die. But let him live. Bring me home.”

I remember falling in love. With the song. With this character, who would give up his life to ensure his daughter’s happiness. With Mr. Diehl, whom I had been previously upset with for not letting us sing Diana Ross’s “Do You Know Where You’re Going to?” My brother, who was always excited when I showed some passion towards something other than MTV, bought me the dual tape soundtrack.

I remember going to my room at night and looking up at my ceiling as I would listen to song after song. Pretty soon, I knew every line of the soundtrack, and it was committed to memory. I would weep to myself as I cleaned my room and heard Jean Valjean asking, “Who Am I?” I wanted to scream, “He’s Jean Valjean, bitches!” as the tears streamed down my face. Once or twice (or maybe like a hundred times) when a crush of mine went unrequited, I would sing along with Eponine, the beautiful brunette whose love for Marius, the brooding student revolutionary, was forever doomed in “On My Own.”

When I was in my twenties, I finally saw my first love showing at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. In my life, I have seen the play for a total of four times at the same theater.  Every time I brought more than enough tissues but still ended up with a sea of snot and tears running down my face.

When the movie came out on Christmas Day, I knew I needed to be one of the first to see it.

I got John to agree to go with me the day after Christmas while Heather, our Au Pair, stayed home with the kids. Things did not start off well. During the lunch we grabbed before the movie, I realized that I had forgotten the case for my Invisalign braces. In a MacGuyver-esque move, I decided to wrap the braces in a cocktail napkin and slip them into my pocket.

The theater darkens and about three minutes in, I start crying. I know, I know. It was just the previews, but still, that new Tyler Perry movie looks intense, yo. So you can imagine that during the film, perhaps the tears might come quickly. They did. I wasn’t about to get up and miss anything though and all I had was the napkin with my Invisalign braces in them.

Oh well, a cocktail napkin would have to do.

As I snotted and sobbed into my single lone cocktail napkin for the next 3 hours. I felt like I had been granted a Christmas gift that I had been waiting for for years. When John and I left the theater, I could not shut up. About how brilliant it was to bring back Colm Wilksinson, the orginal Jean Valjean to play the Monsignor who saves Valjean’s soul in the movie. About Anne Hathaway’s incredible performance. About how much I wish they had cast someone other than Russell Crowe as Javert, the officer whose life purpose had become chasing escaped ex-con Valjean. The brilliance of casting Sascha Baron-Coen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers.

John said he liked it, but I think he was just saying that to make me happy. When we got home, I told Heather, our Au Pair and friend, about the movie.

Oh, I can’t wait to see it!” she said in her lovely Welsh accent.

Ok!” I said, putting the coat back on that I had just thrown on the chair.

Ok, what?” she asked.

Ok, I’m in. Let’s go! That’s cool, right John? You’ve got the kids, right?

He looked at me like I was crazy, and perhaps what he saw that moment WAS craziness because he did not argue. Not for too long anyway.

And so I went back to see “Les Mis” again, this time with Heather, on the SAME NIGHT.

And I decided I wanted to share this thing, this movie, this experience, which had been such a big influence on my own life and my own love of music, with my daughter.

But I was conflicted. You know? Because, well. She’s only 5 years old. But she is a mature 5 years old. If that makes any sense. Anyway, I talked to John about it and that went really, really well. (He said no and asked me what the hell I was thinking.) And of course, at that point, I decided I would put out how crazy I am on the Masala Chica Facebook page.

Here is what I posted:

“I keep trying to get John to agree that I can take our five year old, Shaila, to see “Les Miserables”. I know. I know. But if i close her eyes through a few bad scenes, I figure it should be alright. what do you think? (I grew up on Indian movies where I saw tons of violence).

Thoughts?

Would really appreciate it.”

Of course, everybody agreed with me, which you can see if you go to the post written on December 28th.

Ok. They didn’t. At all, really. My favorite response is the one from Masala Chica supporter (in this case, dissenter, Sabina). Go and “Like” the page and add your own comment.

But don’t you fret, I did manage to see it a third time all before New Year’s Eve. Just in case you were worried for me.

More tomorrow on the “Les Mis Holiday Adventures.”  Tomorrow’s post has a special guest appearance from Ma and Papa and a lesson on why you shouldn’t start drinking champagne in the middle of the day.

Kiran

P.S. Sneak preview – this is Ma and Papa, at our wedding reception seven years ago. Ma is like a typical Hindu Desi woman. She is the original “Village People.” Papa is just like Gandhi, and not just because he is Indian and bald. Wait, now, that I think about it, he may not be like Gandhi at all other than those two things.

But he does remind me of Belle’s Papa in “Beauty and the Beast.

9 Responses to Les Mis Holiday Adventures – Part 1

  • I have seen it twice. I am glad the first time was with my mom, who wept with me at all the right moments, and then we both clapped at the end. The second time was with my husband, who sniggered at the things he thought were cheesy and then argued with me about whether ANY of the characters were likable. Sigh. But I know that “to love another person is to see the face of God” so I am loving him unconditionally, despite the fact that he clearly didn’t “get it” – LOL. For the record, I saw it on Broadway six times from when I was in high school through college. Yes, six times. I will see it again. It’s coming back to NY in 2014…are you in? THAT I think you MIGHT be able to bring your daughter to – maybe I’ll bring mine, too. Somehow the prostitution and suicide are not as obvious on stage as they are with the extreme close-ups in the movie. Right?
    Daily Presents recently posted…Life’s Necessities: Food, Water, Air and SongMy Profile

  • Doni says:

    We sound like Les Mis soul sisters. I fell in love with Les Mis as a 21yo seeing it at the Orpheum in SF for the first time. And the second time. Then, again. Then once on Broadway in NY about 5 years ago with my oldest kids (they were 12 & 13 at the time). I bought the CD after the first show and listened to it like you until I knew it by heart.

    I agree with your every assessment of the movie. Especially the Russell Crowe part.

    However, my favorite song has been and will always be “I dreamed a dream.” “but the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder…” Not exactly an uplifting song, but what does one expect from a book/production/movie called “Les Miserables”? I cried watching the trailer (with my 10yo, who I DID take to see the movie — she liked it — but thought it was sad.)

    I refrained from singing along at the theater. Barely.

  • I New Year’s Eve a bunch of people in my town went to see Le Mis. In the middle of the film, the power went out and everyone had to leave the movie theater. Can you imagine? In the middle. Right at the climax. No one knew how the story ended. (Unless they had seen the play and were like you, a dyed-in-the-wool lover of all things Les Miserable. I would’ve been weeping my eyes out. I hope people went back to find out the ending. Can you imagine if they didn’t?
    Renée Schuls-Jacobson recently posted…Fifty Shades of Humiliation Featuring a Guy in a Gray SuitMy Profile

  • Alison
    Twitter:
    says:

    Why am I not surprised you watched it twice in one night?? And again before the year was out?

    I haven’t watched a movie at the theatre in like forever (maybe 2008?), this might make me throw the kids at my in laws and go watch it. But three hours? My boobs will explode (breastfeeding, yo).
    Alison recently posted…Do. Or When The Easy Becomes DifficultMy Profile

  • Suniverse says:

    Oh!

    I went to see Les Miserables with my daughter [but she is 15, not 5], and although I am not a crier, I wept through that whole movie.

    All of it.

    Glad you saw it 3x.

  • LisaAR
    Twitter:
    says:

    After weeks of huge anticipation, I saw it on the 26th, too! Loved it.

    I have to say, the way you built the scene with your cry napkin, I thought for sure you were going to have an experience similar to my mother–who did a Kleenex MacGyver move with her “partial denture” for her teeth, too–except she forgot she did, and threw the tissue in the garbage…on garbage day…and realized it after pickup…Good times…good, good, good times.
    LisaAR recently posted…The Sandwich Generation – If Only It Were as Simple as a Turkey on WheatMy Profile

  • Nelson
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love Les Mis. I’ve seen it three times in live productions and I’m looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. I also have the original London Cast on CD and on my iPod for the car. I’m not sure that a 5 year would get the story but she should enjoy the music. I’m just trying to figure out how I can stay seated for three hours without my butt screaming for relief.

    I loved your post too. :)
    Nelson recently posted…Things We Don’t Learn – No Matter How Old We Get…My Profile

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  • Mama Mary says:

    So glad I found you, my soul Les Mis sister! Love that you saw it twice in one day. I totally want to take my 4 & 6 year old girls but will wait for DVR so I can fast forward some of it. I sing them the soundtrack at night for their bedtime lullabies and they jumped for joy when Fantine won the Golden Globe. Speaking of, I hope you join us for #OscarSmack. I’ll send you info! Cheers!

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MEET KIRAN
I'm Kiran, I'm a dreamer. A writer. A singer. A mother. An ugly crier. An Indian-American. Who loves Gandhi. My stories are full of truth that is sometimes hard for me to say out loud. This blog is where I overcome my fears and live (and love) out loud. Read More....
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