Comments: Review: Phantom of the Opera

All I can say is, go to the library and get the book, by Gaston Leroux. Get the book on tape to listen to while you knit, or whatever. It answers most of your questions (the armed police not nabbing him while he's on stage for seven minutes didn't happen in the musical or the book so I can't help you there). The musical, at least, gave very VERY little insight into who the Phantom was or why he was there or what kind of spell he cast over Christine (hint: her father had a lot to do with it) but it's all in the book. As well as a lot of other things, and a character who is so totally worth knowing and who, in typical condensing style, had his role merged into that of another character for the musical, la Mr. Harrison and Rachel Lynde in the Kevin Sullivan AoA.

Sorry, I heart the Phantom and would take him over Raoul ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Except for that murder thing. And maybe he was a titch obsessive, too. But still.

I am conflicted about wanting to see the movie. I love the stage musical, in a totally different way from how I love the book, but I'm afraid if they mangle the musical I will throw things. And in a public theater that's generally a no-no.

Posted by Rachel at January 29, 2005 04:05 AM

P.S. Not the ABRIDGED book on tape if one exists. Perish the thought. But you knew I meant that, right? Our library had the unabridged version.

Posted by Rachel at January 29, 2005 04:06 AM

I also recommend reading "Phantom" by Susan Kay. It portrays the Phantom in a MUCH more romantic light, and is, I think, the best version of the story and fits in very well with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Posted by Liza at January 31, 2005 10:26 AM

More stuff 'cause I was listening to the soundtrack this morning...

Take into account several things first... Christine is pretty much a soft-minded twit. She's in love with pretty much everything that moves. That said, she DID have a very close relationship with her father, presumably because her mother died and he raised her alone. He was a famous violinist, so she grew up loving music. Raoul is an instant-love thing because he spent much of her childhood with her, and she probably had quite a crush on him back then, too. He reminds her of a happier time when she was loved and comfortable, so she is naturally drawn to him. And let's not forget... he's uber-handsome and uber-rich, too. Remember this is a time period where women Christine's age weren't alone much; usually they live with their families and then are married off pretty young. So she's probably LONELY on top of everything, and here's this rich, handsome childhood crush suddenly back in her life again. OF COURSE she's gonna go ga-ga on him instantly.

The movie hinted at it, but I'll also point out that her attraction to the Phantom is based on the fact that ever since she arrived at the opera house as a child, he'd been speaking to her. He learned early on that her favorite story, told by her father, was of the "Angel of Music" who would protect her and teach her to sing. The Phantom, being the sly devil he was, latched onto that and BECAME her "angel of music" and essentially made her believe the fantasy tale was truth. And Christine, being the lonely soft-minded twit, began to believe that not only was this beatiful voice her guardian angel sent by her father, but that it WAS her father, speaking to her from beyond the grave. She spent her teenage years being taught by this disembodied voice how to sing, how to appreciate music, and being told over and over how wonderful and marvolous and beautiful and desirable she was. And when suddenly this seductive disembodied voice suddenly APPEARS, in human male form, she is understandably intrigued/enthralled, as well as frightened.

The Phantom, we are told, is a genius (and you get more of his background from those books, how he came to be in the opera house, where he learned architecture and art etc. and just how and why he can live down there the way he does) and the stories hint at his abilities with "magic" and hypnosis as well. Sure, he's put a bit of a shine on Christine; the movie hints at THAT when we see Madame Giri moving down the same corridor behind the mirror that Christine and the Phantom just traversed... what we saw as beautifully lit by magically moving arms holding torches, we now see as dingy and grey and filled with rats. What we see is the way Christine is seeing things... partially because she wants very much to believe in the Phantom's beauty (he's her Angel, after all) and partially because the Phantom WANTS her to see these things.

Okay, the Phantom on the stage thing is something you sorta take for granted. Operas can get away with stuff that plays and movies can't, and Phantom *IS* after all, an "opera within an opera". Old-style operas are filled with characters pretending to be other characters, and the audience can ALWAYS tell who is who, which is why it makes it so funny (or dramatic, depending on the story) because we know and accept that the other characters on stage DON'T know what we know. However, I'll also admit that the way Raoul and the police were looking upset when the Phantom was on stage kinda blows this plot point out of the water... in the stage show, they're not supposed to know it's the Phantom. I'm not sure what the director of the movie was trying to do, or if he just missed this little twist altogether. What it looked like to me, was Raoul and the police weren't expecting the Phantom to show up ON STAGE, and were at a loss as to what to do. Which is kinda dumb, because DUH, you rush him and get him and who cares about ruining the show? So that is one point where I understand people getting confused, because I was a bit confused as well.

I hope some of this helps you out a little. I did think the movie version was EXTREMELY well done, even if there were a few points I would have made better, had I been directing it. :-)

Posted by Liza at February 2, 2005 09:48 AM