Tom Hooper Defends Close-Up Shots in 'Les Miserables'
Among the positive reviews he got for his work on "Les Miserables", Tom Hooper was criticized for using a lot of close-up shots. In a new interview with Movieline, he addresses criticism that he relied too heavily on close-ups in the drama film.
"I find that discussion interesting," he responds, "I always give myself options. I didn't assume that the tight close-up was the best way to do a song." He explains, "The tight close-ups won out in the cutting room because, over and over again, the emotional intimacy was far more intense than when you go loose."
Hooper then gives an example how a close-up made the cut into the final film. "So in 'I Dreamed a Dream', there was a close-up of Anne that we used but there were two other cameras shooting from other perspectives... for a long time we were using a mid-shot of her at the beginning of the scene followed by a very slow track and maybe in the last quarter of the scene it was a medium close-up," he shares.
The British filmmaker further reveals that Eddie Redmayne suggested him to use the close-up featured in a teaser trailer for the movie. "He was talking about the way you see all the muscles in Anne's neck work as she sings and the raw power of that, and I thought, God, that's interesting," Hooper continues.
"So, it was actually Eddie's suggestion to re-examine that scene, and the moment we put that close-up in, the film played in a completely different way. The level of emotion went up about a hundred percent. So the process of moving toward these close-ups was a process of discovery."
"Les Miserables" is a big-screen adaptation of the famous musical play based on the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, it tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption-a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit.
Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.
Asked which one of Hathaway and Jackman is the bigger musical geek, director Tom Hooper says, "Well, without a doubt, Anne is the bigger 'Les Miserables' geek. It wasn't just that her mother was in the American tour of Les Miz, she was the understudy for Fantine. So these high points of drama marked Anne's early life."
"Hugh is different because he's actually starred in musicals on Broadway and on London's West End. He's a bona-fide musical star in his own right, where a lot of Anne's singing has been in the privacy of her own home or at the Oscars, but not something like ['Les Miserables']."
The movie has opened wide in U.S. theaters since December 25.
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