On June 5-6, 1832, the Paris Uprising – anti-monarchist insurrection described by Victor Hugo in his masterpiece Les Misérables – took place: to remember it, here’s our new article dedicated to the beautiful fandom that was born out of this story.
Tell me: do you remember where you were the first time you watched The Lord of the Rings? The first time you opened a Harry Potter book? Or during that first ever forgotten episode of Supernatural?
As with more shocking and important things in life, it is difficult to forget the moment you became a fan of something. Or rather, the moment you discovered that film, that book, that sport you were soon going to fall in love with.
The Birth of a fandom: Les Misérables and us
At first you cannot even remember the names of the characters. The actors? Well, that is even more complicated. Although you already went through that film or that episode more than once, at first you don’t really believe than in a few months you will know everything there is to know about its fandom.
We all go through this phase. But it does not matter if the fandom slowly gets under you skin or if it strikes you as a lightning bolt: it always ends up changing a part of your life, your sense of humour, the things you get fictionally sad about, the things you start looking for in other stories.
On Winter 2013 that is exactly what happened to me.
I had ignored Les Misérables for years, because how could I be happy while enjoying something about miserable people? It was beyond my comprehension (oh boy, I did not have any idea).
But Tom Hooper, director of incoming Les Misérables new movie, made a creative choice that I couldn’t *not* take notice of: he hired Russell Crowe to play one of the main characters… a certain inspector I did not know anything about at the time, but that I was kinda expecting to be the bad guy in the story (a/n: I was so wrong. My Javert…).
You see, I’ve been spreading love for Russell Crowe since I was in high school… could I really betray him there? Furthermore, his character seemed to be in opposition to the one played by Hugh Jackman, another favourite of mine, and both of them were going to sing.
In a musical.
Which is the film genre I probably love the most.
So, Les Mis it was.
My friends, I don’t think I’ve ever been as starstrucked as when I reached the line “One word from him and I’d be back / Beneath the lash, upon the rack”, and heard Hugh Jackman’s voice breaking over that line. Oh my, Huston, we have a problem. I may have just found something I will adore. But take you time, Agnese. Don’t rush into things. There are still 3 hours and tons of songs ahead. You may still end up hating it.
If you’ve been following fanheart3 or have ever talked to me for more than 5 minutes straight, well, you already know I did not end up hating it.
Au contraire, Les Misérables became one of my favourite things in the whole big world. And “The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward” the only thing I’d tattoo on me if I ever got a tattoo.
From Les Misérables to Les Miz: living the fandom
When you are a fan, you just know that watching or reading the work you are a fan of is just the first step.
I mean, even when you are a fan of a specific sport – I don’t know, cricket, maybe? (and no, the reference is not coincidental) – you know that just playing that sport is not going to be enough. You read books about it. Go and visit the places that are part of its history, save half your money to go and see that huge event your champions are going to be in. It’s your dream. It’s going to be beautiful. And it is rarely going to disappoint you.
So, what are the things you usually do when you become a fan of Les Mis?
1. You read the whole Brick (if you need to know why it is called so, please refer to this post). You even read the parts about Parisians sewers which Victor Hugo dedicated a whole chapter to (!!!). And, you won’t believe me, but it is not as boring as it sounds. Indeed, it is quite invigorating to know more about them.
2. You go through all the fanfictions you can find, based on your ship of choice. While, despite its premises, the Les Mis fandom is an incredibly joyous one, you still have to face the certainty that all your favorite characters will be dead by the end of it. Someone needs to fix it and that someone? It’s always the fanwriters.
3. You take a pic from the exact point where Javert threw himself into the Seine, and are careful to have both Notre Dame AND the Palace of Justice in it because you.know.things. This, during the strictly Les Mis-themed trip to Paris you did with your friends, that came with you only because you lied to them and pretended to be there because of the city’s romantic vibes.
4. Then, one day, you finally, finally decide to see it live. The most glorious musical ever produced, a musical that’s been on stage continuously for the past 34 years, a musical that tells the most beautiful story ever written through the most beautiful characters ever created using songs and words that capture your heart completely. You study the whole seatplan of the Queen’s Theatre, you take into consideration pros and cons of each sit, you count the chances you’ll be back to see it from another position and then you buy your ticket for Les Miz West End.
…and then you start counting the days that separate you from your show.
To find out more about my experience of Les Misérables at Queen’s theatre and why I believe the current edition of the musical is absolutely perfect, keep reading! Here’s part 2!