"Les Misérables" is a 19th century period piece. The film adaptation was being directed by Tom Hooper, who recently won the Academy Award for "The King's Speech" but had never made a musical. And he wanted his actors to sing each of their songs live, in a method that had been tried only sparingly in film musicals. So much could go wrong.
Yet these were irresistible challenges for both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, who star in the film as protagonist Jean Valjean, and tragic heroine Fantine.