Sunday, June 09, 2013

For Whom Do You Cry? True Love


My daughters and I love musical theatre.  I can’t afford live performances, but many of the good ones come out as movies and I can afford those.  The movie version of Les Miserables came out around my birthday this year and my eldest daughter, Elizabeth and I celebrated by going to see it.  Critics panned the singing, saying the movie cast wasn’t as good as the casts on Broadway or the West End of London.  I don’t care, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe (who knew he was such a rich baritone?), Anne Hathaway, and Eddie Redmayne all made us cry.  And Samantha Barks sang the role of Eponine with Alfie Bowe in the West End cast as well as on the PBS 25th Anniversary special, so no one could possibly have faulted her singing in the movie.  Referring to the 25th Anniversary special, I personally think Nick Jonas is better looking than Eddie Redmayne, but that’s just me.

Another favorite of ours is The Phantom of the Opera.  I believe I watched that on disc with my younger daughter, Christine.  Gerard Butler singing the part of Eric, The Phantom [yeah, the hunky one who stars in all of those romantic comedies] and Emmy Rossum as Christine Daaé gave me chills—so much so that I had to look up the name of the young man who sang the part of Raoul (Patrick Wilson).  Elizabeth loves the music so much she had two of her cousins sing “All I Ask of You” at her wedding, which I found funny.  I would have expected Christine to use that song since her name is in it.  Elizabeth has an old copy of the original West End cast with Michael Crawford as Eric and Sarah Brightman as Christine Daaé.  What brought this up to me what riding to a family reunion yesterday with Elizabeth and listening to that recording twice on the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from Chicago and once on the way home.

At the end of "The Phantom," I found myself crying not for Raoul and Christine who got their happily-ever-after, but for Eric.  I was trying to figure out who loved Christine the most—Raoul who was willing to give his life for her, or Eric who was willing to live the rest of his life alone so she could be happy with the man she truly loved?

In the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, Jubal Harshaw tells Ben Caxton, “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”  This is the kind of love Eric has for Christine.  And it’s the kind of love Eponine has for Marius.  True, she puts herself into harm’s way and takes a bullet for him, but not before she leads him to Cosette’s house and prevents her father and his ruffians from hauling Jean Val Jean out of the house and taking him to Javert.  She puts Marius’ happiness with the woman he truly loves above her own.  And again, I cried more for Eponine’s sacrifice than I did for Cosette and Marius’ HEA.  I think “On My Own” is even more moving than “I Dreamed a Dream” for that reason.  While Fantine’s lover may have taken her childhood and left her with a daughter she could not support, at least she had a summer of happiness and a child to love.  Eponine never even had that much.

So—for whom do you cry?


  1. Lovely post, Rochelle. Les Mis is one of my favorite novels ever, and while I haven't watched either of the movies, I too found/find Eponine's selflessness borne of obvious love profoundly moving.

    I appreciate this articulation of noticing this nuanced phenomenon in fiction (and life)!

  2. Thanks, Emerald! I didn't realize you followed my blogs. I've not read Les Mis, but I'd like to. I would love to read more of the characters' stories, since three hours isn't very long for a ten-volume epic.