Special Feature: Les Miserables!

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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby Aslanisthebest » Jan 28, 2013 6:58 pm

*peeks head in thread, aware that she is around great knowledgeables-in-musicals-and-all-things-Les-Mis and quickly confesses her ignorance* ;))

I know the basic story of the novel Les Miserables. (I do not attempt to say it in real life; I have my mom say it for me. ;;) ) My sister read it and explained bits here and there to me. I knew there was a musical on it, but I didn't really know the details. Only a few months ago I learnt that the famous "I Dreamed a Dream" was from there. And then, of course I was aware of the movie. I know of the Liam Neeson movie and the 2012 one, as well as a musical version where a Jonas is Marius? ;)) Anyways, yes, I have a very basic knowledge of Les Mis. Only yesterday, when my sister expressed interest in seeing the new movie when it comes out on DVD, did I look it up on Wikipedia (yeah, I got spoiled, but I knew what most of the characters did before, so I'm not losing sleep over it or anything. ;)) ) and saw the nice summary of some characters and then a contrast of characters in the novel and characters in the musical.

So, my encounters with the story: I have not read the book or seen any versions of the musical or the films based on the musical, except for one or two scenes of the Liam Neeson on (I remember Cosette knitting stockings or something and then Valjean taking her and them jumping over this wall thing and her asking if she could call him "Papa.")
1) How (and when) were you introduced to the story?
My mom had been reading a book that mentioned Les Mis (I think it was Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace?) and was explaining something in the book to me, in which she went on to explain the paraphrased excerpt from Les Mis. That was my first and intial introduction to it, perhaps more than 5 years ago. I somehow assumed the book's climax was Valjean and the priest. Fantine was a huuuuge surprise when I learnt about the story more later on. :)) Then my sister read the book and explained parts of the story to me.
2) Do you prefer the musical or the book? Or are they equal?
Uh, as I have knowledge of none except for what I read on Wikipedia, I think I might like the musical better, because of the way Eponine is portrayed (I had no idea that she was an important and redeemed character, either. I assumed she was just part of the Cinderella-step-sister-duo)? I don't know; I'll have to read the book and see the movie and musical to find out, I guess.
3) Which characters do you like best, and why? Not sure at this point, but I'll say Valjean sounds like the most agreeable.
4) Have you seen the musical? If so, how many times? N/A
5) What did you think of the new movie? (please keep the answer for this one in spoilers... not everyone gets to see it the first day, and wants to have the same experience as you.)
The new movie helped kindle my interest in Les Mis. I initially wasn't interested in it because I thought it was basically a theater-junkie fandom and was an otherwise...well, mediocre classic. The movie itself looks very artistically made and I'm interested in possibly seeing it. I'm usually not an Anne Hathaway fan (I won't go see and movie just because she's in it/don't regularly follow what movie she will be in/don't necessarily consider her a favourite), but her outstanding performance also made me interested the movie.
6) For my fellow theatre people out there... if you could be in the musical, who would you want to play... and why?
Uhh... tech crew. :P

I just heard Anne Hathaway's version of "I Dreamed a Dream" and that, too, makes me want to see the new movie. Her voice is so lovely. Interestingly, she's an actress, and yet her voice sounds more resonant and clear (to me) than really.... many, many singers. ;))
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby johobbit » Jan 30, 2013 11:20 am

1) How (and when) were you introduced to the story?
Through NarniaWebbers :D, although I have heard of it throughout my life. I read it a few years ago now, and was completely captivated. What a tale of mercy, grace, forgiveness, redemption ...

2) Do you prefer the musical or the book? Or are they equal?
I have never seen the musical. However, I tend to go with books, hands down. B-)

3) Which characters do you like best, and why?
The Bishop of Digne (also referred to as Bishop Myriel or Monseigneur Bienvenu), because of his amazing mercy towards Valjean, and how that gracious kindness totally changed the direction of Valjean's life. Also, I am very drawn to little Gavroche. The feistiness and courage in this young lad is inspiring. And his final sacrifice always makes me weep. :(

4) Have you seen the musical? If so, how many times?
N/A

5) What did you think of the new movie?
I was hesitant about seeing the film, partly because I don't particularly enjoy Anne Hathaway's acting, and partly because I didn't want this beloved book to be destroyed in any way. However, my low expectations were completely overwhelmed with appreciation both for Hathaway's portrayal of Fantine and for Tom Hooper's adaptation of Victor Hugo's story. I was also curious how Russell Crowe would do portraying the law-bound Javert, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's not that I don't like Crowe's acting—I do! But this is quite a different genre of movie to what he is usually involved in.

I did have a bit of trouble getting used to almost every line of the movie being sung, but after I saw it a second time, I grew to quite enjoy that medium. And the singing by chorus and individuals was amazing. I appreciated the emotion poured into each performance.

I, too, enjoyed the small nods to the book that Hooper could easily decided to leave out. I'm glad he made that extra effort.

And I am thrilled that this version concluded with Cosette's and Valjean's relationship restored. Also, it was very moving how they showed the Bishop welcoming Valjean into the afterlife. A very nice touch.

Yep, a well-done, moving, poignant, powerful film. Kudos to everyone involved!


stargazer, that video of the 17 Valjeans singing "Do You Hear the People Sing" gives me mega goosebumps!
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby aragorn2 » Feb 03, 2013 2:41 pm

1) How (and when) were you introduced to the story?
I think it was through the 1990's Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush film. Great movie! But I really got interested when I saw the trailer to the musical. And then I went and read the unabridged book which I really enjoyed even though I could do without some of the historical and philosophical ramblings. And around the same time I started listening to the musical which I loved and I'm still listening to it months later.

2) Do you prefer the musical or the book? Or are they equal?
This isn't really a fair question. I like them both for very different reasons.
But if I was forced to choose I'd probably pick the musical

3) Which characters do you like best, and why?
Valjean of course. I also find Javert and Thenardier very intriguing though I can't say I like them :)

4) Have you seen the musical? If so, how many times?
I haven't seen it but I've listened to it multiple times. I really want to though.

5) What did you think of the new movie? (please keep the answer for this one in spoilers... not everyone gets to see it the first day, and wants to have the same experience as you. ;) )
I haven't seen it yet :( but I'm dying to.

6) For my fellow theatre people out there... if you could be in the musical, who would you want to play... and why?
Javert definitely. He's such and interesting character. And Enjorlas, he has all the really epic pieces. :)
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby shastastwin » Feb 04, 2013 8:37 am

I won't answer most of the questions because my experience with Les Mis is limited to my current reading of the book and my previous failed attempt to read it. I made it about one or two books into the first part, "Fantine," last time, and this time I have made it past the infamous Waterloo digression. I didn't think I was going to make it through that section. 8-|

My favorite characters so far are the Bishop Myriel (I've read his section of the book twice now, so he feels very familiar and close) and Jean Valjean. I haven't been introduced to several of the main characters yet, but I will say that the Thenardiers are thoroughly loathsome and I want to see more of Javert and Valjean's interactions.

Since I'm still only a fourth of the way through the book, I'm sure my thoughts will grow and change as I continue. I'm hoping to finish the book sometime this semester. 8-}
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby stargazer » Feb 11, 2013 7:39 pm

I viewed the new movie for the second time today and had a couple of thoughts:

I found myself wondering how easy it might be for someone unfamiliar with the book or musical to follow the story as it is shown here. It takes a little getting used to hearing virtually every line sung.

On the whole I enjoyed this viewing but decided that the "Master of the House" (the Thenardiers' song) was a bit too long.

I looked forward to "Do You Hear the People Sing" however.

I liked the ending more knowing it was coming, especially the idea of Fantine 'absolving' him of his crimes against her (so to speak) and inviting him into Paradise. His meeting the Bishop and then the others at the barricade made for a good ending

The theme of law vs. grace - especially with Russell Crowe's Javert - seemed even more evident to me this time, though I expected it since it's so strongly stated in the book.
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby johobbit » Feb 25, 2013 10:49 am

shastastwin, I'm curious how your reading of the book is going. Bravo for sticking with it! *coughHugo'sdigressionscough* ;) I pulled out my edition, now longing for a re-read. :)

stargazer wrote:On the whole I enjoyed this viewing but decided that the "Master of the House" (the Thenardiers' song) was a bit too long.

Ditto. Very much ditto. ;)) It was a bizarrely fun song, but 1/2 - 3/4 (max) of the length would have worked better, imho.

The theme of law vs. grace - especially with Russell Crowe's Javert - seemed even more evident to me this time, though I expected it since it's so strongly stated in the book.

Yes, indeed. So powerful! One hears of complaints (mainly the critics, methinks) with Crowe's Javert, but I found he fit the part very well.

A brief thought re the music: I appreciate that Hooper, the director, recorded each of the characters' and group's solos live, rather than recording them in a studio afterwards. Again, I have read some grumblings in reviews about this method, but it certainly more evocatively captures the gritty reality of the various situations/emotions, even though it may not be 'perfect' musically.

I would like to see the film one more time before it leaves theatres. This is one movie for which I will be buying the DVD. (I am anticipating this much more than The Hobbit, astounding myself even. ;)))
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby stargazer » Feb 25, 2013 5:13 pm

I did enjoy my repeat viewing, jo, since I knew what to expect and could anticipate seeing favorite parts again.

Yesterday I came across something in a walk down memory lane: Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream" in an early appearance on Britain's Got Talent. The looks on the judges' faces when she starts singing (around 1:15 in the video) are priceless.
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 25, 2013 8:44 pm

I thought it was great that Ann Hathaway won the Oscar for her role in Les Mis. I am sorry that Hugh Jackman missed out, but I am impressed by Ann Hathaway for her chivalrous speech which included him in her victory.

aragorn2 wrote:And then I went and read the unabridged book which I really enjoyed even though I could do without some of the historical and philosophical ramblings.


D'oh! I am merely grateful I avoided having to write an essay in French on those historical and philosophical ramblings. English was hard enough. This is possibly why I missed much of the theme of grace versus the law that others here have drawn attention to so strongly. :D
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby johobbit » Mar 01, 2013 11:00 am

:D 'gazer, yes, indeed.

After listening to both the musical soundtrack and the movie soundtrack, Kimberly/Nellie and I decided we much prefer the latter. It's grittier, every song packed with emotion, and more realistic. The former, 'though very professional, seems too much so, given the fervent passion of that wonderful story.

We hope to see the film once more before it releases on DVD, hopefully this weekend or next. :)


wagga wrote:the theme of grace versus the law

How I love that theme in Les Mis!
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby wild rose » Mar 01, 2013 2:51 pm

I'm wondering if I am the only one who didn't enjoy the movie half as much as I wanted too. I've seen it twice and feel comfortable writing something about it, though I'm afraid it's not very positive. On the whole, it was a good movie, it certainly wasn't bad, but I felt it left much to be desired for and I came out quite unhappy.

A few reasons why I ended up not caring for it

it was filmed in a sort of grotesque style (a style I don't partcularly care for) it seemed to me that a lot of the characters came out looking a little more zombish than real. And that's fine, because that's the way grotesque is supposed to be filmed. But I was hoping for a more historical based movie, with everything looking real, as if we had stepped into a portal that took us back in time. The very bright and contrasting colors were not what I wanted to see, I sort of hoped for a more real life portrayal of the early/mid 19th century, like the 1998 movie did

The singing, except for Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne, the rest of the actors disappointed me in at least one song, and some of them in all of them. No offense, but Russel Crowe is a terrible singer, I wish I had taken earplugs along whenever he would start singing. Hugh Jackman was great, but 'Who Am' I really left me disappointed, I was expecting so much more.

The movie felt very rushed to me, I didn't hardly have time to really get into a scene before they would rush off to the next one and that really made me very indifferent to certain characters that otherwise would have had my full sympathy. I fully expected to cry at the end of the movie, but honestly, it didn't movie me at all, and by the end I started getting a little bored and just wished for them to get the movie done and over with. (as opposed to The Hobbit, where even though it is also very long, at the end I jumped up and yelled aross the whole movie theater 'no, we want more')

The ending scene also disappointed me, we end with a huge barricade with a bunch of people waving the French flag, my older sister turned to me and said with jest, 'oh look, French Heaven, a place with endless revolutions' and honestly I couldn't help agree with her. In the song they sing 'they will live again in freedom in the garden of the lord, they will walk behind the plow share, they will put away the sword' umm....why where is the garden of the Lord? I really wish they had put it in there, by the end you just want to get away from the barricade, away from the revolutions, away from the thought of all that, but instead we just see them all behind a barricade, which make sense of course because of the song sing 'beyond the barricade' but you wish they would have showed the garden, showed that heaven was not really a place of endless barricades and revolutions, but a place of peace and love. I understand why they did what they did, but I was disappointed and I didn't like it.


So, I guess to sum it up, did I like the movie, yes, to a certain extent I did. Did I love it? No. Was I disappointed? Yes, very. Will I buy the DVD? I don't know, maybe, though at the moment I'm not inclind to. This may sound wild, but on the whole, I ended up liking The Hobbit, more than Les Mis, maybe it's because I'm not much of a Tolkien fan while Les Miserables holds a very special place in my heart and I didn't really like the way the movie portrayed it. (If I had to choose between movie or stage musical, I'd go with stage musical, but on the whole, of course nothing will ever beat the book :D) So yeah, I'd give it three stars out of five, there were good, amazing, moving parts, there were parts that I cringed at and there were parts that were lukewarm. Everyone in my family ended up less than satisfied and after much talk and discussion we all agreed that while it being a good movie, it was not a favorite in our family; though I feel a little awkward posting this, as it seems I'm the only one who doesn't like the movie here . I don't mean to critisize, and I am glad for all the people who love the movie and enjoyed it, sadly, I didn't, even though I really tried too. Who knows, maybe with time it will grow on me :)
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby shastastwin » Mar 01, 2013 5:02 pm

johobbit wrote:shastastwin, I'm curious how your reading of the book is going. Bravo for sticking with it! *coughHugo'sdigressionscough* I pulled out my edition, now longing for a re-read.

Umm... well, I've taken a break from it for a while. I read a short YA book and am currently reading another book, as I haven't been able to convince myself to go back to it. I think once I finish this book, I'll be able to jump back into Les Mis. *fingers crossed* The trouble is, I enjoy the story and the detail Hugo puts in, but the writer and the reader in me both say "You shouldn't be taking this long to tell me this story!"

johobbit wrote:After listening to both the musical soundtrack and the movie soundtrack, Kimberly/Nellie and I decided we much prefer the latter. It's grittier, every song packed with emotion, and more realistic. The former, 'though very professional, seems too much so, given the fervent passion of that wonderful story.


I'll keep that in mind when I get around to picking a soundtrack to listen to. Given how much I enjoyed Anne Hathaway's performance of "I Dreamed a Dream," I'm not surprised the film's soundtrack is phenomenal.
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby johobbit » Mar 01, 2013 6:08 pm

wild rose wrote:though I feel a little awkward posting this, as it seems I'm the only one who doesn't like the movie here .

No need to feel awkward, m'dear rose. :ymhug: I really appreciated your post, and one are in particular that you mentioned I hadn't thought of: it really struck me.

I'll get to that in a minute, but first, that is exactly the way I've been feeling about my thoughts on The Hobbit movie. :)) I am really not fond of much of it, and some people just can't figure out why, so I understand where how you're thinking/feeling. When something is near and dear to your heart, and you have envisioned it a certain way for years, longing for the director to be faithful to the text as much as possible in the translation, and he's not, it is such a disappointment. I only read Les Mis for the first time a few years ago, and whilst it struck me so powerfully in that initial read, I haven't had the multiple reads and years of loving that story to allow a film to disappoint me too much yet. I fully respect where you're coming from.

Yes, the movie did seem rushed. At my first viewing, as scenes would fly by, I would wonder how on earth it got to certain parts already.

The following is what especially hit home for me in your post, rose ...

The ending scene also disappointed me, we end with a huge barricade with a bunch of people waving the French flag, my older sister turned to me and said with jest, 'oh look, French Heaven, a place with endless revolutions' and honestly I couldn't help agree with her. In the song they sing 'they will live again in freedom in the garden of the lord, they will walk behind the plow share, they will put away the sword' umm....why where is the garden of the Lord? I really wish they had put it in there, by the end you just want to get away from the barricade, away from the revolutions, away from the thought of all that, but instead we just see them all behind a barricade, which make sense of course because of the song sing 'beyond the barricade' but you wish they would have showed the garden, showed that heaven was not really a place of endless barricades and revolutions, but a place of peace and love.

Totally makes sense. You have re-worked my perspective there in a good way. The song at the end is very powerful, but why the barricade, which represents revolution and aggression? Thanks for that.

EDIT:
shastastwin, thanks for the update. I know you're not the only one who feels this way. Keep at it when you're able, because the parts that are good are amazing. Those infamous diversions, though, can be quite tedious. :P

Also, there is a Deluxe edition of the movie's music coming out in March \:D/, which will include 22 more tracks, apparently! We are definitely getting that, as some of the key songs are unfortunately left out in the current soundtrack, which is somewhat sparse considering all the music in the film. Object :D
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby stargazer » Mar 02, 2013 8:49 pm

I also appreciate your thoughtful post, wild rose, and agree with a number of your points - especially as regards the 'eternal barricade' of the movie's end. Sure, it may be a victorious barricade (so to speak), one of joy, but it's not the garden the song mentions.
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Mar 02, 2013 9:49 pm

I didn't think there was anything wrong with the barricade at the end. It was where so many of the characters died in the story, the movie etc. In the Last Battle, there was a stable outside which there was a battle, wasn't it?
I thought the barricade was like the Stable, myself. Especially as at one stage it was like the crowded street where the funeral was to be held. And especially when some of the characters who had died turned up.

I agree with Wild Rose about the singing. I never saw either Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman as singers, anyway. How did they end up getting the parts, I wonder? :-o
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby shastastwin » Mar 03, 2013 6:59 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote: I agree with Wild Rose about the singing. I never saw either Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman as singers, anyway. How did they end up getting the parts, I wonder? :-o


Actually, Hugh Jackman has a history of doing stage theater, including musicals. His involvement in a production of Oklahoma! is part of why we know him today (it helped people outside Australia to know and recognize him).

Incidentally, I had a professor who saw this production, and he said it was a bit strange, given Jackman's image in Hollywood films, to see him doing all those song-and-dance numbers. ;))
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Re: Special Feature: Les Miserables!

Postby Princess Anna » Mar 03, 2013 2:22 pm

Note: I apologise in advance for the length of this post, and the amount of emoticons in it. Ok, proceed!

wrose, no worries! Everyone has a right to their own opinions... especially when it comes to well-loved stories! :ymhug:

waggawerewolf27 wrote: I agree with Wild Rose about the singing. I never saw either Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman as singers, anyway. How did they end up getting the parts, I wonder? :-o

Smalls wrote: Actually, Hugh Jackman has a history of doing stage theater, including musicals. His involvement in a production of Oklahoma! is part of why we know him today (it helped people outside Australia to know and recognize him).

Yeah, in fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all, if Hugh Jackman had done theatre before entering film acting! (think he did, actually) As for Oklahoma! I saw him in that when PBS showed it once, years ago. I remember thinking "Wolverine can sing? SWEET!". =))

I'm not saying he's the best singer I ever heard, but he's definitely talented. I mean, the guy has won several theatre awards, including the Tony Award... the highest theatre award you can get! I don't think he'd have gotten that if he wasn't qualified, so I have no problem with him being cast as Valjean. :)

Not sure what Mr. Crowe's background is though. I'd have to do some digging.
...........
Ok, I guess it's my turn now:

1) How (and when) were you introduced to the story?

Gosh, I forget. Though probably the musical? Or a song or two from it before that? I wish I could answer this for you all, but my mind is blanking. :(

2) Do you prefer the musical or the book? Or are they equal?

From what I've read of the book, I'd say that I would like them equally. But I'd have to read the whole book to be sure. ;)

3) Which characters do you like best, and why?

a) Jean Valjean- It's his story, and I love seeing the power of God in his life.
b) Gavroche- The kid is hilarious, and has a good heart.

I think I like most (or all) of them on some level, for various reasons. But those are my top two, for sure!

4) Have you seen the musical? If so, how many times?

I know I asked about the musical, but I'm going to add in the regular movies too. (my question, I can add to it if I like! =)) ) So, let's see...

Films/Concerts
1) the Liam Neeson one... at least once or twice.
2) an old one, that I never got to finish. I think it was from the 50's?
3) parts of the 25th Anniversary Concert on youtube
4) the 10th Anniversary Concert... lost count how many times :p

Live Performances
1) The Muny- twice... a couple days apart. The first time, I went with friends and the barricade didn't turn. I forget who took me/how I got there the second time, but, I do know the barricade turned that time! This might have been in 2007?
2) My old high school- it was the spring musical in 2010, and a really good friend of mine was Valjean. (I have since watched it again at least twice on dvd)
3) A high school in a nearby town- sometime recent... like, 2011 or 2012. And let me tell you... they had one of the best Gavroche's and best Eponine's I've ever seen! (counting live, and seeing tons of youtube videos)

I think that's all? I forget. ;)) 8-|

5) What did you think of the new movie?

Um, I haven't seen it since December 29th, and I only saw it the once. Can I wait til I've seen it again before I answer? :-s All I know, is that I was immensely happy on the way home, so much so that my sister yelling the whole way home didn't phase me... rather, it amused me! :))

6) For my fellow theatre people out there... if you could be in the musical, who would you want to play... and why?

As much as I love the girls parts, I think all the best parts in this show are for the boys. I mean... Enjolras, Javert, even Marius! But in all seriousness, the ones I'd most want to get in the heads of... to be... would be my fave characters, Valjean and Gavroche.

-I mean, Valjean has some amazing songs and moments, it'd be fun to explore his life's story. The range of emotions he goes through is incredible!

-As funny as it is, though, I think I'd have the most fun with Gavroche. I mean, awesome lyrics, hilarious attitude, quick wit and mind... and he even has a huge depth to him, though his cockiness hides it well.

I don't think it would ever happen, but it'd sure be funny (and fun!) Besides, girls have played boys parts before... Peter Pan anyone? ;) (not to mention, at the playhouse... I've seen a woman play Tobias in Sweeny Todd, and a friend of mine in her late teens/early twenties being Colin in Secret Garden. and the production at my old high school? Gavroche was played by a girl)

Ok, that's enough from me. But I'll probably be back!
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