I love Les Misérables! In fact, it might actually be my favorite musical (up in my Top 3 at the very least, with Frankenstein and The Phantom of the Opera). I also love Jérome Pradon, ever since I saw him in Jesus Christ Superstar (2000). Besides enjoying the film far more than the original 1973 version (I thought it was dreadful), I was captivated by the balding French actor with the piercing dark eyes playing the role of Judas. If you haven’t guessed it already, that was Jérome! Anyway, while I was surfing around on YouTube, I came across this beautiful rendition of Seul devant ces tables vides (Empty Chairs at Empty Tables in the English version) from Les Misérables. And, of course, to make it even sweeter, Jérome Pradon was the singer!
I’ve been listening to this song repeatedly…..Although I get frustrated when I can’t understand the lyrics to a song, because it’s in a foreign language, I have to admit that I LOVE listening to familiar songs in other languages (especially from musicals). I already know what is being said, and it just sounds so beautiful! And it’s even better when the song is from something like Les Misérables, where the character is actually singing it in his/her own language. In this case, the character Marius (here played by Pradon), is singing in French, so this is what the song would have sounded like if he were actually singing. Of course, I love Michael Ball’s English rendition of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, and that’s the version I usually listen to, but there is something wonderful about this one…the combination of the authentic language (in this case French), mingled with Jérome Pradon’s awesome vocals is just perfect! I’ve added the video below; please, watch and enjoy :)
For those of you who are not familiar with the plot of Les Misérables, I’m afraid there is no short way to give an explanation of the story. There is so much going on that this would be a freakishly long post, and then by the time you got to the video clip, you’d want to do something else….So I’ll be brief. In this scene, Marius, a young soldier in the Student’s Revolution, sits in an empty café, contemplating life. All of his friends died in the barricades, as they were shot at by the French soldiers. Marius survives after he is saved by Jean Valjean, the father of the girl he loves. Marius thinks about the “empty chairs at empty tables” where he used to meet with his friends and discuss their revolution; he wonders why he was the one to live if all the others had died, and if they even made a difference. It’s a very powerful, haunting song.