SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, BUILDING AND DESIGN
THE DESIGN SCHOOL
FOUNDATION IN NATURAL BUILD ENVIRONMENT
NAME: CLAUDWIE TAN WAN SIEN
STUDENT ID NO: 0317997
FILMS SELECTED: “ENCHANTED” AND “LES MISERABLES”
WORD COUNT: 961 WORDS
SUBJECT: ENGLISH 2 (ELG 30605)
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT 1: COMPARE – CONTRAST ESSAY
LECTURER: MS. CASSANDRA WIJESURIA
SUBMISSION DATE: 19TH SEPTEMBER 2014
Contrast Essay of Two Musical-based Film
Since the 1930s, musical-based films are cogitated to become a burgeoning demand in the
film industry and there are no signs of slowing down. Musical films emphasize on the combination of
music, dance and choreography. They are cinematic forms of musicals that showcase songs with
lyrics that support the film’s storyline. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online Academic Edition, 2014) To
begin with, musical films are one of my favourite genres as I am amazed at how they could keep hold
of my attention throughout the movie. “Enchanted” and “Les Miserables” are two of the best
musical-based films that I have ever watched, although both of the films differ in their storylines,
settings, characteristics of the protagonists and their conclusions.
“Enchanted” is a combination of live-action scenes and animated ones, where classic
Disney fairytales collide with contemporary urban chaos. Giselle is exiled by Narissa, an evil
enchantress with abhorrence for Giselle, from Andalasia and finds herself stranded in the streets of
Manhattan. She is frightened by her strange new environment and is not treated well until she meets a
flawed divorce lawyer, Robert, who does not believe in happily-ever-after due to the fact he is a
divorce lawyer and a failed marriage to go along with it. Giselle finds herself falling for Robert who
helps her to survive her new modern world. On the other hand, the plot of Les Miserables emphases
on Jean Valjean, a French ex-convict who broke parole to start a new life while escaping from being
captured by the ruthless Inspector Javert. Eventually, he becomes a factory owner and the mayor of a
town. He adopts a young girl named Cosette, whose mother Fantine, a former employee of his, who
before dying in his arms, made Valjean promises to care for her only daughter. As the French
Revolution is beginning to initiate, Javert starts to close in again on Valjean’s secret past, while
Cosette who is now a grown up falls for Marius, a zealous student revolutionary.
Other than that, there is a huge difference on the settings of both films. “Enchanted” has
the combination of two different settings; Classic magical animation in the two-dimensional world of
Andalasia and the live-action New York City which the first scene being where Giselle emerged head
first from a manhole in the middle of Times Square is featured, because Queen Narissa does not want
to give up her crown and let Giselle takes it. Conversely, set against the backdrop of the 19th-century
pre-revolutionary France, “Les Miserables” tells an enthralling story of broken dreams,
unreciprocated love and endless testament to the survival of human spirit. The movie was shot almost
entirely in England, though it is set in France.
Moreover, another noteworthy difference between the two films is the characteristics of
the protagonists. Giselle in “Enchanted” displays similar personalities to an archetypal Disney
princess, who is carefree, naïve and is always dreaming of falling in love with her Prince Charming.
Her naivety tends to drive Robert up the wall. She hardly feels angry or frustrated, as she has been
living in a magical animated world. Nonetheless, Giselle’s perspectives on life begin to change
through her experiences on Earth, with Robert’s help, to expose her to a complicated world than she
had ever experienced in Andalasia. Contrariwise, Jean Valjean, the main character in “Les
Miserables” is totally the opposite of the elegant Giselle. Inspector Javert releases Valjean on parole
after being imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing bread and making numerous attempts to escape
imprisonment. A bishop from a church nearby took Valjean in after seeing him out on the streets.
Valjean, however, was apprehended after being caught stealing the church’s silver. The bis hop, when
confronting the police, claimed that the silvers were gifted from him to Valjean, in an attempt to
educate him on starting a new life. Hence, Valjean decides to break parole and start a new life as a
factory owner and mayor of a town in Paris. He is kind-hearted as he adopts Fantine’s daughter
named Cosette as he has promised to look after her before she died. Valjean is also known for his
generosity because he often gives alms to the poor.
In addition, both movies possess different endings as Enchanted has a typical happily-ever-
after ending whereas Les Miserable has a beautifully touching ending to which everyone aspire.
For Enchanted, Robert breaks evil Narissa’s spells by kissing Gise lle and successfully waking her up.
The angry Narissa turns into a huge dragon and runs up the building with Robert in hand but Giselle
managed to save him, ending in a romantic embrace. In Les Miserables, the movie ends when
Valjean dies after he went through a lot and it gives me a huge sad-happy swing. Valjean leaves
before Marius and Cosette’s marriage to ensure their safety and happiness. He is close to death when
Marius and Cosette found him in a local convent and they bid him farewell. He hands Cosette a letter
containing revelations of his past before passing on.
In supposition, Enchanted and Les Miserables differ vastly in every way possible. A
historical drama contrasted to a lively comedy musical. Les Miserables, if not obvious yet, means the
poor ones or the wretched ones. The suffering endured during the French Revolution is very much
accentuated in the film. Enchanted, though being targeted to kids, has elements beleaguered to the
mature public eye. The film highlighted the fact that we are fearful of what we do not comprehend, as
shown with Giselle trying to cope with her new world throughout the entire movie. Consequently, as
many differing points there are between these two films, similarities do exist; The struggle of
humanity trying to revolutionize a broken world, but are fearful to do so as they do not quite grasp
and comprehend the consequences towards doing so.
Musical Film. (2014). Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved September 18, 2014, from
Enchanted. (2007). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from
Lima, K. (Director). (2007). Enchanted [Film]. Walt Disney Pictures.
Hooper, T. (Director). (2012). Les Miserables [Film]. Universal Studios.