Warren Carlyle on Tom Hooper’s ‘Les Miserables’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director Preview

Tom Hooper gets up close and personal in his latest film, “Les Miserables.” A perfect balance is struck between visually epic moments and the quieter more intimate moments where the camera is close enough to see the actor’s every thought.

In traditional musical theater, we operate in a wide-shot the entire evening, but in this cinematic imagining of the hit musical, Hooper has found a way to do exactly what we all strive for; he manages to cut out everything that the audience shouldn’t be looking at. By using close-up shots, he shows us extreme emotion as the characters sing about their innermost thoughts, hopes and desires. He captures performances that on stage only the other actors in the scene would ever be aware of. It is a world a musical theater audience seldom sees and it’s thrilling.

When we are with the delightfully wicked Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, the camera mimics character, so does the style in which the scenes and songs are directed and edited. Jaunty, naughty, funny. The same can be said of the scenes and songs with the young students. There is simplicity and innocence in the way the camera captures these moments. In a seemingly effortless way Hooper has created a world that matches the power of this magnificent score and for the first time on film an epic musical becomes intimate.

This season, Warren Carlyle choreographed three Broadway shows: “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “A Christmas Story” and “Chaplin,” which he also directed.