Monday, July 19, 2010

I am a Phan!

The Phantom of the Opera
Emmy Rossum as Christine Daae, with Gerard Butler as The Phantom

I don't know how I managed to remain all but oblivious to the phenomenon that is The Phantom of the Opera for so long but. . . having watched the 2004 film for the first time yesterday, I am now semi-obsessed! Okay, totally obsessed. . .

This is not going to be a review (my thoughts on the film are currently too scattered - not to mention biassed - for that), but rather an invitation for discussion and for a sharing of opinions! For a full plot summary and review, see Charity's Place.

The Phantom of the Opera
Masquerade!

Wow! What an experience it is! (And how I would have loved to have seen it on the big screen, rather than my laptop screen. . .) The grandeur, the colour, the energy - and most of all, of course, the music. You know there has to be something special about a film when you can't get it out of your mind for one minute, during the hours and days after you first watch it. I can only think of a few other movies that have had quite the same effect on me. . . Pride and Prejudice 2005, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lorna Doone. . .

The Phantom of the Opera

It's dark, it's romantic, and it contains plenty of food for thought, with themes of redemption, compassion, cruelty and forgiveness, obsessive love and selfless love. 

A few thoughts, to get the discussion going:

The Phantom of the Opera

*Gerard Butler as The Phantom (Erik). . . wow! ;-) And I don't care about his vocal powers, or perceived lack thereof. His acting was amazing, and his voice, while not classically trained or technically flawless, was powerful and emotive.

The Phantom of the Opera
Left to right: Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow, and Minnie Driver

*I was surprised to see so many wonderful British actors in this production! Ciaran Hinds in a musical, who would have thunk it. :-) As well as Miranda Richardson, Simon Callow, and others. In fact, I think nearly all of the cast were British (or Irish, in the case of Hinds), with only a couple of exceptions.

*[Warning - spoilers!] I was disappointed at first by the ending. . . I wanted so badly for there to be a happy ending for the Phantom. But after more thought, I suppose the story was resolved in the only possible way after all. And the Phantom, though he doesn't get Christine, does find redemption through his mad obsession giving way, in the final minutes, to selfless love. *End of spoilers*

The Phantom of the Opera
Patrick Wilson as Raoul, with Emmy Rossum as Christine

*Emmy Rossum - can't believe she was only 16-17 when she played Christine! 

*Have you seen the stage production, or read the book? Would you recommend the book? And if so, which translation?

*Your thoughts on the movie?

The Phantom of the Opera

21 comments:

Theresa said...

I don't believe you hadn't seen this before! It's great ay! I love it, and I love the Phantom - until he takes his mask off. :) I'm not such a fan of Raul's hair though!

Ruth said...

The book is a completely different animal from the musical, at least in my mind. The Phantom isn't attractive AT ALL, just so's you know. ;) Give the Broadway cast album a listen, Sarah Brightman is an amazing Christine!

Alexandra said...

Ahhhh. POTO!!!!! My fa-vor-ite musical EVER EVER EVER!!!!

Hmm. Do I really want to get started on the movie? ;-)

Let's just say...that I am so *not* crazy about Gerard's Phantom. ;-) I personally am of the Michael Crawford Phantom Phanatics camp. I feel like Gerard's Phantom wasn't quite the Phantom of the musical. Michael plays him quite a bit different, IMO, than Gerard does. And Gerard was too young...and his deformity was toned down compared to the stage version...

To me the fact that he can't sing was a big issue because, if you read the book, the whole point is that the Phantom has this incredible, angelic, breath-taking-away voice. So when Gerard struggles through the songs...it kind of takes away from it.

With that said, I love everyone else...I like both Christine and Raoul (especially Raoul) much better in the movie than in the film. There were a few changes made to the film from the musical that I wasn't crazy about, and the movie's a bit darker than the stage version. But the costumes are stunning.

That's a very abbrieviated review. ;-) I'll have to write one of my own sometime. I advise giving the Original London Cast a try (although I'm not crazy about Sarah Brightman's Christine), and look up Michael in the stage version...there's several bootlegs on YouTube that, while not that great quality-wise, at least give a glimpse of the man who made the Phantom the huge phenonemon it is today.

(I toned down my Michael obsession for this comment...he's my favorite singer so I'm, um...a bit biased. ;-))

Oh, I also read the book, and while the Phantom is NOTHING like the musical version, I felt like it added new depth to the story. Many of the lyrics are lifted from the story, and it really added a lot. So read it, but be prepared for a very different Phantom.

Alexandra said...

Me again. ;-) I just wanted to share a clip. This is from 1991 in LA when MC played the Phantom...the Final Lair scene. I wasn't a huge Phantom phan until I saw this...it did it for me. ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qtk0MYozbE&feature=player_embedded

Kate said...

I was required to watch the movie in 8th grade for chorus since we did a musical rendition of Phantom. I'm not too much into romances myself, but I LOVED Gerard Butler's and Emmy Rossum's voices, and I thought they complemented each other perfectly. Also the costumes were pretty awesome. But I couldn't get over the fact that Christine was ridiculously naive, the phantom was creepily obsessed, and Raul's haircut was tacky. ;)

Lady Helen Mar said...

Oh, I felt the same way when I watched it!! I could not get it out of my head! The story, the songs, the faces...It was great!
I do not know if it is something I would want my brother (12) to watch because of some of the costumes and stuff but...I really enjoyed it!
Cannot wait to hear more of your thoughts!
Through Christ,
LH

The Editrix said...

Theresa - I'll have Gerard Butler's Phantom, with or without the mask! :P I guess it's impossible to make that man ugly, even with all the disfigurement makeup and prosthetics. :-) And yeah, shame about Raoul's hair. . . reminds me of the Beast, after he's been transformed back into a human. . . (Disney's Beauty and the Beast)

Ruth:

The Phantom isn't attractive AT ALL, just so's you know. ;)

Yes, so I've heard. . . they seem to have really put a different spin on the character of the Phantom in the film, by making him a lot younger than he is in the book and the stage show.

Give the Broadway cast album a listen, Sarah Brightman is an amazing Christine!

I will definitely do that!

The Editrix said...

Alexandra, thanks heaps for sharing your thoughts - and the link! Wow. . . now I really want to listen to the original cast - and read the book. I think I'll forever have a soft spot for the film - because it was my first encounter with the story and characters - but I'd love to see where it all began. Oh, and you're so right - the costumes are amazing!

Kate - I agree, I also thought Gerard's and Emmy's voices blended well.

LOL, that awful haircut again! :-D

Lady Helen - yeah, it's not something I'd watch with my little brothers or sisters, either. If I had sisters closer to my age or older. . . I think it would be a fun film to watch with sisters. :-)

Traxy said...

Welcome to the world of Phantom! :)

The stage production is good - not quite the same as the book, but nice tunes. Of course, you already know them from the film!

The book by Gaston LĂ©roux was almost 15 years ago, but it was good. I read it in Swedish. Want to read it again, but in an English translation. :)

emily elizabeth said...

I've loved this movie ever since I saw it a few years ago! The original novel was really good, too! This movie is absolutely awesome!!! :D

Charity said...

Welcome to the Phandom! Once you love PotO, you never look back.

Like some of your other commentators, I am not a big fan of the movie. It's very pretty to look at, but unfortunately the singing is not up to the standard of the original musical (type in Hugh Panaro Phantom or John Cudia Phantom into YouTube for some REAL musical performances). They also cast Erik... err... the Phantom... completely wrong. He's too big, too buff, and he loses the swordfight. The real Erik never loses. He's also a master magician, so he never entangles with Raoul in the flesh, just mentally.

Even so... if it brought you into the fold, I'm glad. It did that for many people. If you ever have a chance of seeing it live, DO IT. The stage musical blows the film version out of the water. It's tremendous.

Rachel S. said...

Phantom of the Opera's great! I've only seen this movie, but as everyone else says, the stage version must be waaaay better.

Unfortunately, the story itself never really got me excited. The Phantom reminds me too much of Edward Rochester, whom I don't like. Maybe you could convince me of the good "love" messages in the film? I mainly loooove the songs (although Emmy Rossum's voice seems to be more of a mezzo-soprano, so she seems to strain at certain parts of songs) and the costumes and sets.

Reminds me, I ought to do a favorite musicals series or list sometime. PoTO would definitely be near the top of the list.

Rachel S. said...

Btw, even though you've only just seen it, do you have a favorite Phantom song? (I know--we love all of them, but your #1 song!) Mine is "All I Ask of You." My little brother and I are always singing the main "Phantom of the Opera" song. He sings the Phantom part and I do Christine (obviously!), and we keep doing the high trilling part until we can't sing any higher! (Of course, this is terrible for our vocal cords, but who can help it?)

Rebecca Jane said...

hmmm. My opinion.

I think one of the biggest faults of the movie is this:
As has been said in previous comments...the Phantom is portrayed incorrectly in the film. For hollywood reasons. It's really popular right now to like...the dark side...the evil side etc. by making it *look* innocent.

The phantom is supposed to be a grotesque, evilish, murdering, creeper, stalker, person. But portrayed in the movie/musical...he's quite handsome except for a bit of scarring easily covered with a mask. He's mysterious and intriguing. And he's also got the whole sympathy thing going for him. cough. cry baby. ahem.

I have seen stage, film, read the book, even saw some of the silent movie. And I truly love the movie (as long as you keep in perspective: Phantom = evil). Seriously. It's in my top ten.

The book. Hmmm. So different than the musical. Raoul is a pitiful youngster who can barely take care of himself, much less even potentially overtake the phantom. Christine. poor dear. She's so easily swayed. And confused. etc. And the phantom...evil.

Haha... overall...such an interesting story. I wish the musical was a bit more like the original story, but I know musicals (and movies for that matter) usually aren't. So I'm cool with that. But if you're really interested in the story...do read the book and get the whole picture of the characters, setting, etc :)

~Rebecca

The Editrix said...

Thanks for the welcome, Traxy and Charity!

Charity, I agree about the swordfight - it just seemed wrong. . . especially having Erik lose. :-/ Didn't seem right.

And I will definitely see it on the stage if I ever have the chance!

Rachel - basically I was referring to the scene near the end - after Christine kisses Erik/The Phantom, and he lets both Christine and Raoul go in safety.

That's so sweet - and funny! - you and your brother singing the POTO songs. :-D I haven't made my mind up at this stage as to which song is my favouite, but the one that's been running through my head all the time over the last day or two is Music of the Night. Oh, and I also agree with you about Emmy Rossum's voice, too - it was lovely, but it did seem shrill on some of the higher notes.

Rebecca - you're right, there does seem to have been a tendency in Hollywood in recent years to explore the "good" side of villains - and I guess the "dark" side of heroes, too. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, as long as the waters don't become muddied, and there are still basic boundaries and morals - evil is evil and good is good, though humans hearts contain a mixture of the two.

You do have a case, though - perhaps there is reason for concern when the "baddies" are made to be more sympathetic and likeable than the "goodies" - as was the case here, I thought!

Like I said above, I do intend to read the book, but. . . if the Phantom is 100% creepy and stalker-ish, and Raoul isn't as likeable as he is the film, and Christine is naive and confused. . . is there anyone to really root for in the book, LOL?

Marian said...

I read the book, and my favourite character was "the Persian". Unfortunately, he's not in the musical or the film!

The Editrix said...

^Really? Another reason for me to read the book. ;-)

Hope Marie said...

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Rachel S. said...

Oh, yes. The Phantom (or Erik, if you like) does do that--at the end, which is important, of course. But I guess I could never really get over how he murders that one guy during a performance. I should just watch the movie again! You and Alexandra are both posting Broadway musical posts, and it's getting me in the "musicals" mood! lol!

Alexandra said...

I've been following the conversation on this post with interest--once you go past the point of no return to Phantom phanism, there's no going back! ;-)

I'm glad you enjoyed the link! And I hope you didn't think that I was bashing the film...the film clip of All I Ask of You via YouTube was my first exposure to POTO, so even though I'm not crazy about it, it still was the means of making me the phan that I am. So. ;-)

And Music of the Night is my favorite POTO song. Just for the record. (The MC version. ;-))

The Editrix said...

Thanks heaps, Alexandra. :-)