Monday, 23 January 2012

Eponine's Character

Working on my new project I wanted to share some visuals of my thought process. Everything is still a little blurry, and I am trying to bring it all together. My starting point is Les Mis. The character Eponine really interests me. 

I think Les Mis is wonderful. It may be a little sad, I'm not sure, but you like what you like at the end of the day. I think I do have an emotional attachment to it, but then I have an emotional attachment to everything. What I like about it is how the complex and interwoven story line is told, how the characters are passionate, ultimately I like it because it is a love story. I think the fantasy of love portrayed in the book and the musical pulls you in so well. It makes you believe in a love that maybe isn't seen in modern days. Are the best love stories those of the past? Before the world went digital? 

There is something special about it, as Victor Hugo was a christian and the book reflects those values on love there is another level to it. There is such sadness, yet love carries the characters throughout the book. Even Eponine is driven by love, although she is so tragic. And Marius never knows this until she dies. The musical makes portrays her character in more of a family friendly way, whilst the book describes her in much more detail.

A quite young girl was standing in the open doorway, facing the pallid light of the one small window in Marius's garret, which was opposite the door. She was a lean and delicate-looking creature, her shivering nakedness clad in nothing but a chemise and skirt. Her waistband was a piece of string, and another piece tied back her hair. Bony shoulders emerged from the chemise, and the face above them was sallow and flabby. The light fell upon reddened hands, a stringy neck, a loose, depraved mouth lacking several teeth, bleared eyes both bold and wary: in short, an ill-treated girl with the eyes of a grown woman; a blend of fifty and fifteen; one of those creatures, at once weak and repellent, who caused those who set eyes on them to shudder when they do not weep.
Marius had risen to his feet and was gazing in a sort of stupefaction at what might have been one of those figures of darkness that haunt our dreams. But what was tragic about the girl was that she had not been born ugly. She might even have been pretty as a child, and the grace proper to her age was still at odds with the repulsive premature ageing induced by loose living and poverty. A trace of beauty still lingered in the sixteen-year-old face, like pale sunlight fading beneath the massed clouds of a winter's dawn. 

The description was great to read, as from the musical you do not get a real sense of how bad the poverty is in paris. It is a sad description, especially the part of how she could have been pretty. It is interesting with Marius, as he falls in love with Cosette in an instant, as she had the beauty that Eponine did not. It is great for visual references and Hugo writes so well. 

He looked up and recognised the unhappy girl who had called upon him one morning, the elder Thenardier daughter, Eponine, whose name he had subsequently learned. Strangely, she appeared at once more impoverished and more attractive, two things which he would not have thought her capable of. She had progressed in two directions, both upwards and downwards. She was still barefoot and ragged as she had been on the day when she had marched so resolutely into his room, expect her rags were two months older, dirtier, their tatters more evident. She had the same hoarse voice, the same chapped, weather-beaten skin, the same bold and shiftless gaze, and added to these apprehensive, vaguely pitiable expression that a spell in prison lends to the face of ordinary poverty. She had wisps of straw in her hair, not because, like Ophelia, she had gone mad, but because she had spent the night in a stable-loft. And with it all she had grown beautiful! Such is the miracle of youth. 

Reading the book is really interesting, you see so much more and really understand the characters. I want to take the initial descriptions and the emotions of Eponine and portray it in a contemporary way. I think trying to re-create the play literally will not make for a good shoot. I want to look at how Eponine is never truly seen by Marius, how she loves him, but he does not realise until her death.

"Promise to give me a kiss on my brow when I am dead.--I shall feel it."
She dropped her head again on Marius' knees, and her eyelids closed. He thought the poor soul had departed. Eponine remained motionless. All at once, at the very moment when Marius fancied her asleep forever, she slowly opened her eyes in which appeared the sombre profundity of death, and said to him in a tone whose sweetness seemed already to proceed from another world:--
"And by the way, Monsieur Marius, I believe that I was a little bit in love with you."
She tried to smile once more and expired.

My next step is to make the concept more contemporary. Reflecting on modern riots and revolutions to find a place for the styling and how I will be shooting it. From reading the book I have learnt a lot, which I would have never found from the musical. I recently watched the film which had no sign of Eponine, apart from the brief mention of the two Thenardier daughters. I was really disappointed, but hopeful that the new Les Mis film will reflect on the musical more.

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