May 29, 2011

Les Miserables and Plot Focus

I just finished watching Les Miserables. The one with Liam Neeson and Jeffrey Rush, and no singing. I have seen the musical, twice, and have been listening to the "story" told in song for almost 20 years. Sheesh, I'm old. I saw this version in the movie theater when it came out in 1998. That was when my 2nd son was born, and he just turned 13 this weekend. Holy shnikeys. But I digress.

What I'm thinking about after this viewing (on INSP, whatever that is, with TONS of commercials, mostly about an egg cooker and a Waltons marathon) is that even though the singing is gone, Eponine is almost non-existent (a little fall of rain could hardly hurt her now), Marius is minimized, and the Thenardiers are little more than a grumpy couple who drive a hard bargain, I still love this telling of Victor Hugo's hero, Jean Valjean.


Because his story is still boldly portrayed, nearly completely intact. And Javer's role, the "villain" if you must, is no less diminished. This is the story we most care about, and in making a movie from a very long novel, and a very long and beloved musical, this is where the time, money, and emotion is spent. From his prison flashbacks, to the priest who offers Valjean a new life, to Javer's commitment to bring his parolee to justice, to Valjean's love for Fantine, to his rises to success and need to escape, it is his struggle, it is his fight.

So, why am I blogging this? Because I tend to be like Hugo. No, I'm not comparing myself to a master and his quality of writing. Only in that I like characters. I like subplot and weaving and layers and if I allow myself, my books could be as long as Les Miserables. Which might be all right if I were a famous author with a few published books on the NYT Bestseller's list. But I'm not.

This is not me.
When I find myself wandering too far down Side-Story Lane, I'm going to think of this movie, and try to keep the reader's focus where I want it. I love my subplots and characters, but I've got to make sure my (and my reader's) time, money, and emotion are spent in the right places. In the best places, so the most important story can be told in the best way.

1 comment:

The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

A great example drawn from a great story.

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