Hello, friends. And welcome.
From time to time I write about the modern culture, the arts, music, etc., although I admit my time devoted to such musings is limited by my attention to more important matters.
But I could not pass this one up.
Several months back I ventured out to the movie theater to see the remake of the classic "Les Miserables." I had heard from trusted sources that this was something very special and that I needed to see it. They were right.
I said at the time that if this is not the finest musical ever made in the history of film, it is awfully close to it. I was blown away by it, to put it bluntly. It is one of the most moving stories and performances I have ever seen in any movie genre, not just musicals.
A highlight of the film is Anne Hathaway. Here she exhibits not only her exceptional talent as an actress but as a singer as well. It is to be remembered that in this version of Les Miserables, the actors sing their songs live as they perform for the camera. There is no lip-sync.
And this is what I loved about Les Miserables. The actors acted while they sang, and let me tell you as one who knows, that ain't easy.
Back to Anne Hathaway's role. Rarely have I ever witnessed such emotion, such pathos, in a musical or movie of any kind. Her voice itself conveys all of the depth of emotion that is conjured by the subject matter, and that subject matter is a dark one.
Even as a young woman, Hathaway is at the end of her life, having been betrayed by countless persons in her past. She had hopes and dreams, she had experienced laughter and joy as she fulfilled those dreams, or so she thought, until one day suddenly it all came to naught. Nothing was as it seemed. And sadly, as was the case in France prior to the French Revolution, people, women in particular, were consigned to a life of virtual slavery to kings, queens, and their henchmen. Many young women were forced into prostitution.
And this was only a tiny portion of the horrors of human life under tyranny, whether that tyranny be by a monarchy, a dictator, a consortium of powerful people, or even tyranny by majority rule. It all works out the same. Only the tiny handful of rich and powerful can lead "the good life." Everyone else is a slave.
As Hathaway realizes that her dreams have faded and her hopes gone, she sings this song at the end of her life as an ode to loss, the grief that overwhelms when one is aware that all they based their life upon would go unfulfilled, making life basically not worth living. Life, she said, had killed her dream. And now there was nothing left for her but for her body to die.
Yes, it is an overwhelmingly sad story. But it is based on harsh reality, the world the way it was, and the world the way much of it remains today, with the rare exception of those areas where human liberty is valued, encouraged, and protected.
The place at which we connect with Hathaway in the film is her stark description of having lost her dreams. At some point during life all of us, without exception, are faced with the same loss. For some it is a mere sidetrack to other things. For others it is life-altering, so severe that one never recovers and is never the same. Dreams can be so powerful that when they go unfulfilled they can be devastating, sometimes lifelong.
I won't go into the ways in which I connect with Hathaway's character at this point other than to say that I understand dreams, hopes, and the dashing of those dreams and hopes by forces beyond one's control. And, although those losses did not result in my death, each time a dream was shattered, a hope lost, something inside me died...except for hope itself, an endless capacity to dream dreams and to hope when it seems hopeless.
I have been in a meditative mood of late, contemplating those losses, and pondering over the pull in two opposite directions -- one that says too many hopes and dreams have been dashed to recover from and that life is no longer worth the living, and the other that says somehow one finds a way to keep hoping, to keep dreaming a little longer.
The performance by Anne Hathaway below does not contain scenes from Les Miserables, for I found that to be a bit distracting from the main purpose, to focus on the words, the emotion, the depth of feeling, as she sings this most poignant and moving song. I hope you will listen and read in the right frame of mind. This is not child's play. It is not to be made fun of. It is not to be dismissed with some curt or snide remark. This is life, and it is serious, and for most, deadly and sad, very very sad. But life is in part about sadness, and to dismiss it or try to ignore it will only intensify it in one's unconscious.
So, for what it is worth, here is Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream." Those who can connect will understand my words here and understand what the song is about. If you cannot access the video below, click here to go straight to the YouTube site.