What would a motion picture be without its soundtrack? Songs and sounds serve to amplify silver screen productions with music that evokes emotion, nostalgia, and other sensations in film-goers.
The 2013 Oscars celebrated ‘Music in Film’ by showcasing a few of the numerous musical moments in film over the last eighty-five years.
In a salute to ‘Fifty Years of Bond’, Dame Shirley Bassey and her dazzling performance of “Goldfinger” (from 1964) had everyone bowing down to her vocal graces, while Adele's rendition of “Skyfall” (winner of this year's Best Original Song - that's right, Adele has now nabbed a Grammy, a Golden Globe, AND an Oscar, and within one month!) was classy and cool to the max. Barbra Streisand sang “The Way We Were” (winner of the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1974) in remembrance of the late composer, Marvin Hamlisch.
My favourite part of the evening was the tribute to the three Oscar-recognized movie-musicals in the twenty-first century. 2002 Best Picture winner Chicago was represented by the amazing Catherine Zeta-Jones with her rendition of the sultry “All That Jazz”. Best Supporting Actress winner for Dreamgirls (2008) Jennifer Hudson delivered a rousing vocal performance of the dynamic “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)”.
Closing out this celebration of musical films was the greatest movie+music experience of the year (and my top pick throughout the 2013 awards season), Les Miserables. Best Actor nominee Hugh Jackman opened the medley with Oscar-nominated original song, “Suddenly”. Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway sang a snippet of her heart-wrenching version of “I Dreamed A Dream”. One by one, the Les Mis film cast entered the stage to deliver an outstanding performance of “One Day More”, including the romantics, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried, the powerhouse that is Samantha Barks, the commanding Aaron Tveit, and respected actors Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. Together with the entire ensemble, the troupe attacked the songs with incredible fervor and finally answered the question of, “Do you hear the people sing?” Yes, we do, and we want more! Encore, encore!
Seeing the Les Mis cast reunite at the Oscars and stand together for the last time was such a bittersweet farewell. From the opening clip reel which preceded the singing performances to that final shot of the cast on stage with the French flags flying above them, it was all a very special moment to behold, and one that will be stored in my memory bank for years to come. I was swept up in Les Mis Mania from the first time I saw the film on New Year’s Eve. It’s amazing how much of an impact this movie-musical has had on me in the short span of two months. And no, I’m not just referring to my shower routine of singing “On My Own” as I envision myself as Eponine. I now consider Les Mis to be the musical that holds the most meaning to me - there’s something about the story, the characters, the themes, EVERYTHING, that strikes a powerful chord. And the songs! The sheer beauty of the melodies and the important messages in the lyrics are the stuff inspirations and dreams are made of (I never really understood what that phrase meant until now). Even though the setting of the story takes place in 19th century Revolutionary France, the story’s main messages of courage, redemption, and transformative power of love and kindness resonates with today’s world as well.
I will forever be grateful for this captivating cinematic wonder for many reasons - for introducing me to talents like Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, and Aaron Tveit, for giving my favourite actress Anne Hathaway the role of a lifetime, for reminding me of the power of music, for encouraging me to sing out, and for inspiring me to always Fight, Dream, Hope, and Love.
The National Tour of Les Miserables, presented by Broadway Across Canada, hits Vancouver June 12-23. For more information, see here.
Photo Credit: Matt Brown © A.M.P.A.S.