“When Tomorrow Comes”: Mythical History as Utopian Entertainment in Les Misérables

I once observed a customer open a copy of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in a Starbucks. Without a word being exchanged, the store’s baristas began whistling “The Song of Angry Men” made famous by Tom Hooper’s 2012 film adaptation (Universal Studios). The lyrics ask, “beyond the barricade / is there a world you long to see?” and express hope for “a life about to start /When tomorrow comes!” Initially written for by Herbert Kretzmer for a stage musical (Sheahen, “Barricade”), these words recall Richard Dyer’s theory that film musicals succeed (when they do) by creating “utopia.” (20). This utopia differs … Continue reading “When Tomorrow Comes”: Mythical History as Utopian Entertainment in Les Misérables