I had one for Les Misérables based on one of the performances on Youtube. During Thénardier's Villain Song "Dog Eat Dog", he refers to God being as dead as the "stiffs at (his) feet". Initially, this just seemed like a usual example of a villain having Nietzsche Wannabe pretentions, but then it hit me... During this scene, Thénardier is in the Paris sewers, and it seems like the "stiffs" he references are Valjean and Marius, neither of whom are dead. Thus, the musical is sending the message that God is very much alive.— Jordan
Extra Fridge Brilliance in that one, given in 'Master of the House' Mdm Thenardier says her husband is a 'regular Voltaire'. Voltaire was an 1700s scholar who was very critical of the French Church.
Here's another one from Les Mis. Jean Valjean's repentence song ("What Have I Done?") is about how the bishop's love has turned his life around. Inspector Javert'ssuicide song ("Javert's Suicide") is about how Valjean's love has turned his life around...only in a completely opposite way. The tunes to both songs are the same. Every song in this musical gets a reprise (most of them increasingly darker), and it's fittingly ironic that the hero's song about deciding to live a purposeful, redeemed life should return as the antagonist's song about being unable to continue with life.
In the 2012 film, Valjean manages to casually see through every one of the Thenardier's well-practiced routines to pick his pocket. Having spent 19 years in jail, Valjean has learned a thing or two.
When Javert, after denouncing Madeleine as Valjean in M-sur-M, comes to argue that he should be discharged for his actions, he declares (Quoted from a non-English translation): "I have often been severe in my life. If I would not be severe towards myself now, all that I have done would become an injustice. Should I save myself more than the others? No." It's isn't until much later in the book, upon his suicide, when that line truly becomes foreshadowing and begins to shed light into the matter. Javert learns that he has been wrong about the concepts of justice and redemption for his entire life. Therefore, despite his ambition to become utterly irreproachable, he has constantly been unjust: He has arrested men and women like Valjean and Fantine a hundred times over petty laws, leaving countless men, women and children to suffer poverty, sickness and death, not realizing the injustice of it because of his blind devotion to the laws of men instead of those of God. Upon realizing this, he sees that he has failed his moral duty and gives his resignation to God by throwing himself to the Seine, because his rigid moral code demands for his punishment which he can only attain by damning himself.
In 'Stars', Javert promises to never let Valjean go, and swears it by the stars. in 'Dog Eat Dog', M. Thenardier 'looks up to see the heavens and only the moon shines down'. A few songs later, Javert gives up on chasing Valjean.
Also, in "Javert's Suicide", one of the lyrics towards the end, just before he kills himself, is "And the Stars are Black and Cold", showing that he believes himself to be abandoned by God.
Another note about celestial symbolism: Stars are a guiding light for navigation, like a lighthouse, so they also represent Javert's moral code- the guiding light of his life. But when the light goes out... You're left in the darkness, with nothing to steer by("There is nowhere I can turn").
Remember when Javert sings "And if you fall, like Lucifer fell, you fall in flames!"? Let's see. Lucifer fell because he was punished by God, and fell into the flames (hell). Javert fell because he wanted punish himself, and fell into... the water (Seine).
"Red- a world about to dawn!" Think of the phrase "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." Now go back to "One Day More." "One more day before the storm!" and "A Little Fall of Rain." Get it?
"Like the flowing of the tide, Paris coming to our side!" The tide goes in and out...
In "Lamarque is Dead"
Enjolras never finds out how many guns they have, which explains why they run out of ammunition later. Both times that he asks Feuilly and Combeferre if they have the guns they need, he gets interrupted before they can answer: first by Grantaire, then by Gavroche. Note that this only applies to the cut production of the musical- the full version (as demonstrated by the Complete Symphonic Recording) has an extra set of lines before Gavroche's interruption where there is quite a lot of detail given about the amount of ammunition in each district.
Enjolras is going to get that answer before the revolution starts.
Another reference to the tides - "Could it be he's some old jailbird/that the tide now washes in?" And like the tide, Valjean goes 'out' as well; he escapes from both Javert, who's singing, /and/ the barricades!
Most people are very divided on Russel Crowes performance of Javert, citing an overall lack of range, volume, and vocal presence, especially in Stars. It is usually seen as a declaration of Javerts crusade to capture Valjean, using the stars and God as his witness. However, in the film version, Crowes Javert is singing this song right after Valjean has just escaped him for the second time. Crowes Javert sings the song much more softly, but with just as much emphasis, while walking along a narrow ledge. This is not a Javert that is planning a personal crusade, but a Javert reassuring himself in his faith that, just as the stars have their order in the sky, so too does the world have an order, which is the law. His faith in this order is illustrated by his walking on the ledge; it is dangerous, and he could fall, but he firmly believes that God will keep him from falling in accordance with this order, just as He orders the stars in the sky. This is referenced again in Javerts Suicide; once again, he is walking along a ledge and pondering the order of the world. However, this time, his belief in this order is shaken. He remarks that the stars are black and cold, and is no longer certain about his faith in God or the nature of the law. When this faith is challenged, he falls from the ledge and dies.
In the novel, Thenardier asks for money to support three people, even though the only family he has left is his younger daughter, Azelma. Earlier in the novel, when the Patron-Minette was breaking him and Babet out of prison, it described Montparnasse, the handsome young dandy of the group, to be practically a son-in-law to Thenardier. Thenardier wanted the extra money so he could bring Montparnasse and marry Azelma off to him.
Assuming he wasn't just lying so he could get more money. He told Marius that his wife was still alive.
In the film version of the musical, Valjean starts as a convict with a shaven head, dressed in red tatters. By the time Fantine is arrested and confronts Valjean, her head's been shorn and she's wearing a bright red dress, as an ironic echo of Valjean's own helplessness and powerlessness.
When Javert is unmasked as a spy at the barricades in the book, he makes no attempt to lie about his agenda even if he will be otherwise be executed. Why would he go so far in his decision not to lie that it would end up killing him? Hugo strongly implies that Javert is part Romani from his mother's side; Given the century's attitudes, he has likely suffered from discrimination most of his younger life. He hadn't only risen from poverty, but he had to fight for his good reputation and integrity in the eyes of the prejudiced society where many would've deemed him a liar and charlatan. Javert would never sacrifice his integrity even in the face of death, because in his black-and-white world it would mean succumbing to the nature the society would brand him with.
In the 2012 film, Sacha Baron Cohen's Thenardier accent slips between Cockney, over-the-top French, and a bit of fake plummy in between, making him the only character to have any kind of French accent (for everyone else, The Queens French applies). This differs from the norm in which the character just slips between Cockney and a fake plummy accent. However, this might make sense, as the novel suggests that Thenardier might not actually be French, but instead a Belgian who lived near Waterloo and started passing himself off as French at the same time he started passing himself off as a soldier. Thus, as part of Translation Convention, Cohen's Thenardier does the usual slip between lower class accent and fake upper class one, but he also has the noticeable French accent to mirror how the character's actual background is with Belgian French or Flemish, but is putting on a French (from France) accent
Many of the songs in the musical, while eminently memorable, have rather simplistic — one might even be tempted to say banal — melodies. "Master of the House," "Look Down", and "Do You Hear the People Sing" all have short melodies that repeat the same snippets many times. For an internationally renowned musical, they might seem to fall a little flat ... UNTIL you get to "One Day More", and you suddenly realize that those earlier melodies were simple because they all had to work together when sung at the same time! 'Twas true Awesome Music at that moment.
In the musical, Valjean tells Fantine he's seen her face before. Its possible she reminds him of the sister her lost.
Not likely as he sees her earlier during the argument in his factory. He has literally seen her face before.
One lyric in "Do You Hear The People Sing" says "The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France." This is likely a reference to Thomas Jefferson's "tree of liberty" quote (see the linked page). Jefferson was an early contributor and strong supporter of the French Revolution, so it makes sense that the Amis would pay homage to him.
That could also be a reference to the Marsellaise "Marchez, marchez, qu'un sang impur abreuve nos cillons", which also makes sense as the students were shown singing it in the book.
In "(Building) The Barricade", while Javert is rather poorly masquerading as a revolutionary, he sings in a different melody (and if memory serves, a different key) than the members of Les Amis, but neither does he sing in any of his associated melodies. This backs his attempt to conceal his identity, while simultaneously reinforcing the idea that he doesn't quite belong among the barricade boys.
When you think about the tone of the story, it makes perfect sense for Thenardier and his wife to be the Adaptational Comic Relief in the musical—with a good 99% of the cast being tragic, broken people, it would be extremely distasteful to laugh at any of them...so the comic relief characters are the two people who AREN'T tragic.
Ever wonder why Javert looks up after pinning his medal on Gavroche's clothes in the aftermath of the battle?He's looking at Enjolras.
This doubles as a Tear Jerker at the end when all the deceased cast at the end stand behind the large barricade in heaven. It hits you when you remember is heaven is as you visualize it to be. To the Friends of the ABC, their heaven was a world where everyone would stand by them and they weren't alone. Compared that to how they felt abandoned behind their last barricade to die aloneand in vain.
When Jean Valjean sings "Who Am I?" about whether or not to reveal his identity to save an innocent man, the words "Who am I?" have two possible meanings. "Am I Monsieur Madeleine or am I Jean Valjean?" and "What kind of person am I?"
Most of the characters singing in One Day More only have one day more to live.
In the novel the narrator remarks that Madame Thenardier won't hire maids for their inn anymore, since her husband would go after them. This is the exact reason why they keep Cosette. Now imagine what would have happened if Cosette had still been with them when finally hitting puberty (or probably even before.)
Gavroche to Enjolras: "If you are killed before me, I will take your musket." On the outside, that scene is just funny—but when you think about it, Gavroche, a little kid, not only understands that They're both going to die, but he talks very matter-of-factly about it.
While it doesn't really play a role in the musical itself, a truly lovely line sung by Thénardier about using body parts from horses and even poor dead house cats as filler for sausages will sometimes stick in one's mind, especially for those that are cat lovers, those eating while watching, or both. Especially in the 2012 film, when the cat he uses is right there when he's singing.
In the song "Plumet Attack", right after "Heart Full of Love", Thenardier tells Eponine that if she screams to warn Valjean and Cosette that she'll "regret it for a year". Later, after she does it, he shouts "I'll make you scream, you'll scream alright". In at least one of the stage versions, he's physically restraining her as he says this. Just what does he do to her afterwords?
Especially since the next time we see her, it's for "On My Own", in which she seems considerably more broken-down and sad, wandering the streets at night daydreaming about Marius, and she's obviously not staying with her family any more. She may well have been afraid to go home.