I’ll have to give Les Mis a miss if the audience can’t stop clapping in the middle

The mid-movie ovation is part of an irritating new trend. The peacocking of one’s ability to appreciate culture deeply.

Share

Ten. That’s how many times the audience at the London premiere of Les Misérables burst into applause this week. Ten times, during the film. During the film? Who are these emotionally incontinent, cultural barbarians?

It’s not the first time. The film’s director, Tom Hooper, revealed that at the first screening in New York, a fortnight ago, guests clapped “14 to 15 times”. And not only clapped. “For a minute, I freaked out, wondering, what’s that odd sound on the soundtrack,” said Hooper. “I looked around and realised it’s the sound of people crying en masse.”

Right. There is still time to get a grip. Les Mis is not released here for another month but the hype is already getting out of hand. The film, Hooper's first since The King's Speech, stars Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Sacha Baron Cohen among many others. Reviews are already calling it a masterpiece. Oscars will surely follow. To judge from the trailers which have been running since, it feels like, Victor Hugo's time, it is epic, full of rousing choruses and virtuoso solo turns, designed to make audiences cheer and cry.

Even if one takes into account the fact that many of those genuflecting at the screenings so far will have been friends of the cast and crew, the mid-movie ovation is part of an irritating new trend. The peacocking of one’s ability to appreciate culture deeply.

Once, heartfelt applause at the curtain and perhaps a genteel shower of bouquets for a true diva sufficed. Now, standing ovations have become near-mandatory in the West End. They’re no longer reserved for the truly extraordinary. People are out of their seats at the drop of the curtain.

In cinemas, this noisy outpouring makes even less sense. In an art form which relies entirely on the audience’s ability to lose itself in what’s happening on screen, it may even detract from the work. Applauding every time someone hits the high notes, in a movie musical, is over-excitable to a fault.

Much has been made of the fact that Hooper insisted on filming his stars singing “live”, but Russell Crowe needed 40 takes to nail one of his numbers, so “live” is a fluid notion here. Goodness knows what Les Mis fans would do if faced with a real top C, from a live performer, singing in the same theatre as them. They’d probably never recover.

* Talking of cinema, the fortunes of my lovely local fleapit, the Ritzy in Brixton, took a turn this week. The Picturehouse chain, which includes the Ritzy and 20 other much-loved arthouse cinemas across the UK, has been bought by Cineworld for £47.3m.

Takeover stories like this always provoke a sinking feeling to start with. The soulless multiplex shovelling up the sainted indies like so much cheap popcorn. Alas!

In fact, Picturehouse is hardly a vulnerable, profitless concern. It is the country's largest independent chain and already shows a mix of blockbuster and arthouse fare. In a statement, it promises "business as usual", with no changes to the ethos, pricing structure or staffing of their cinemas.

If it keeps to its word, this could be a fruitful partnership. With Cineworld's financial clout behind it, Picturehouse can expand, with plans to open 10 more cinemas in 2014. But it's what Picturehouse could do for Cineworld that is even more exciting.

These days viewers want more from their cinema experience than a car-chase and a vat of Coca Cola. If they take the time to look, Cineworld will learn valuable lessons from their latest acquisition – about inventive programming, welcoming venues, quirky community spirit and knowledgeable staff. And that can only be a good thing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker