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Close ups in Les Miserables


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#1 Phillip Mosness

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:14 PM

I noticed that Les Miserables has a lot of close ups and I wonder if it was partially artistic and partially for technical reasons.
Unlike many other musicals this one was done with actors singing live rather than to a prerecorded track, and I'm guessing that in order to insure good production sound they needed mics as close as you would in most dialogue situations for clean recordings, hence many close ups.
Am I assuming correctly?
I know this isn't the first musical recorded live, but I'm not sure which others were done this way, so I don't have any to compare.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:57 PM

The amount of close-ups seem similar to the director's other movies.

Having spent two years shooting a musical drama for TV, mostly involving playback but also a little live recording, I can see the strengths and limitations of the live recording approach.

In terms of Anne Hathaway's performance of that song, the live recording approach helped make that moment a real acting moment, truly powerful.

But the downside of this approach is that most of the songs were covered as a close-up or with multiple cameras... and there were very few sweeping camera moves or cuts -- it helped that the musical is mostly ballads and not big song & dance numbers, because doing hard dancing routines while singing live is very difficult if multiple takes are needed. In this case, most of the songs seemed to be from a single take, often shot close, with a few cutaways.

But I don't think the director would have covered the movie differently if it were not a musical, in fact, it's probably because he wanted to cover scenes the way he normally would that he picked this approach -- it seems he wanted to shoot this as a drama where his actors had to sing their lines on set, rather than as a musical per se.
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#3 Matt Stevens

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:39 PM

This is Hooper's style, on steroids because of the sound recording issues. However, it works. The film got to me.
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#4 Oliver Hadlow Martin

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:50 PM

Kings Speech used a lot of close ups too. I want to see Les Mis, any good?
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#5 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:47 PM

What a powerful picture. I've seen Les Mis live on Broadway and the movie got to me as well. I actually understood the story much more this time. But honestly, I found the cinematography completely annoying. Live or not live, I thought that it was not epic enough to match the story. As for the close ups, the lack of depth was very distracting to me - especially when my eyes were doing nothing but searching for focus. Those focus pullers had their work cut out for themselves. That hand held, in your face, free style is a very difficult way to shoot and I believe that it was too intrusive when weighed against the performance challenges. I just didn't feel any elegance to the photographic style that should have supported an elegant story.

G
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