Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top 10 Period Drama Villains: #1

~A series of posts in celebration of those tortured anti-heroes and villainous. . . err, villains, whom we love in spite of ourselves!~

~~~~~

I had originally thought to publish this list as one big post, but then I realised that it would be far too long, and would take me days to complete, so I'm writing it as a series of shorter posts instead. I know I have a bad habit of starting series and not finishing them - I promise I'll finish this one! Also, I'm starting at the wrong end of the series - counting down, instead of up. Oh well - I hope you enjoy it anyway!


1. The Phantom/Erik (Gerard Butler) - The Phantom of the Opera. 

Yes, I am going through a second wave of Phantom-obsession. Why do I like this story (and this movie) so much? It's completely overblown and over-the-top. . . and I love every glorious, melodramatic minute of it. It's pretty much the only tragic love story that I actually like.

But about Erik. What is it that makes him such a tragic, sympathetic figure?


*POTO is a "Beauty and the Beast" tale, but The Phantom's and The Beast's stories differ in some significant ways. For instance, the Beast took on his beastly form as a punishment for his selfishness and incapability to see inner beauty in others; whereas the Phantom is punished for the deformity that he was born with ("Why, you ask, was I bound and chained in this cold and dismal place? Not for any mortal sin but the wickedness of my abhorrent face!").


*His hopeless love for Christine.


*Erik's musical genius also makes him a more compelling character, adding a certain "tortured artist" appeal, I suppose.


A word about Gerard Butler as the Phantom - yes, I know he was too young and too good-looking to play Erik (Gerry, a "repulsive carcass"?!). The Phantom is supposed to be physically repulsive - that's kind of the whole point, after all. But other than that, I think Gerard was really very good as Erik, especially considering he only had a half a face to act with, and an awful lot of lip-syncing to do. He conveyed Erik's character in all of its complexities - his simple, almost child-like nature in some scenes, as well as his more violent side. (Lets be honest, who wouldn't totally marry the Phantom if it wasn't for his unfortunate homicidal tendencies! :P).


And this is a little off-topic, but I think I may have found the perfect Phantom - vocally, at least. I like Gerard Butler's voice, but he did struggle at times. As for Michael Crawford. . . I know some people *cough*Alexandra*cough* will kill me (or at least, un-follow me) for saying this, but I don't like his voice that much! Not as the Phantom, anyway! His tenor is too high and whiny - not dark or mysterious enough. Anyway, the perfect Phantom is, in my opinion, Mikael Samuelsson from the Swedish production of POTO. He's got the rough, masculine edge of Gerard's voice, but his voice is MUCH more. . . well, more! Have a listen below (you might want to pause my blog music), or just search for "Phantom of the Opera Swedish cast" on Youtube. I know he's singing in Swedish, but I'm sure all you Phans know the libretto so well that it won't bother you in the least.



Meanwhile, I want to know:

-Who is your favourite Phantom? (In any movie or musical adaptation)?

-Do you feel that Christine made the right choice in the end?

-Who are some of your favourite costume drama villains?

14 comments:

Traxy said...

So glad you like Mikael Samuelsson's Phantom! I saw that production in ... uh ... 1994 maybe? I was only about 11 or so at the time. The Swedish production is the one I've listened to and learned all the songs from, so naturally, it's the one closest to my heart.

After I saw the sequel (that Andrew Lloyd Webber claims isn't a sequel at all, but it definitely is) in March last year, I decided I wanted to re-read Gaston Leroux's book, but still haven't got around to it. Technically, ALW has turned Eric from creepy psychotic stalker into misunderstood romantic hero and Love Never Dies takes that even further. It's not pretty. >_<

Theresa said...

Yeah, I like Gerard Butler's version because I think he fits the role set up by Andrew Lloyd Webber best. The only real repulsive aspect about him is his evilness. I like how as an audience we kind of fall in love with the Phantom, so suffer the same torn feelings that Christine feels.

Ruth said...

Oh wow, Samuelsson's voice is gorgeous! LOVE it!

I need to watch this movie again...it's been far too long. :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I don't really have a favourite Phantom, but I want to weigh in on Christine's choice.

I never saw the Phantom and Christine as great lovers. I think that she was fascinated by him and very moved by his story and his wonderful music . . . but also that she ultimately saw him as a father figure rather than a lover. A few weeks ago, I was discussing the Phantom's passion for Christine with someone who named them in her Top 10 Couples of All Time, and the way she was explaining it made me say, "Oh, that's just like Michael Myers and Laurie Strode in the Halloween movies." (LOL!)

Finally, I think it says something that the most famous love song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's entire repertoire is a duet with Christine and Raoul. I remember a critic pointing out that during the first acts of the musical, Christine sings other people's music (the Phantom's or Raoul's) and only finds her own themes and melodies in the end--so All I Ask of You isn't the equal exchange it sounds like when sung out of context. But it's still the one that gets couples embracing in the theatre! I'm totally Team Raoul!

beast'sbelle said...

Wow, "The Music of the Night" sounds so beautiful in Swedish! :) I really liked Samuelsson's voice, except I like a smoother tone on the high notes (probably because I lived and breathed the original cast recording with Michael Crawford when I was younger, during my POTO obsession stage). :} While I'm not one of those die-hards who thinks Michael Crawford is the ONLY Phantom, I do like his interpretation. I also like Ramin Karmiloo (I think that's how you spell his name). He's most well-known for the deplorable Phantom sequel ("Love Never Dies"), which I refuse to listen to all the way through. But, if you have a chance to look up "Till I Hear You Sing" on Youtube, that is one good song that came out of the musical, and Ramin does it splendidly.

I have to say I prefered the stage version to the movie. Although it was fun to see the story I used to love so well adapted for the screen, the things I didn't appreciate were:
1. Gerard Butler's voice (I actually cringed when he hit the high notes!). I have nothing against his acting, but I was NOT impressed with his singing.
2. Added grittiness. I think seeing the raucous backstage life and actually witnessing the Phantom murder his victims spoiled some of the enjoyment for me. I had a very "rose-colored" impression of the stage that was not portrayed in the movie. Also, in the stage version, you never see the Phantom's murders. Not only does this add to his mysteriousness, but you find yourself thinking "Maybe he didn't do it!" I don't know, seeing the ugliness of his face as he strangled Bucket just made me vote for Raoul more!
3. Added sensuality. I know that POTO is a sensual story, but they took things to the extreme in the movie. I was actually a bit embarrassed by "Music of the Night" and I fast-forwarded most of "Past the Point of No Return". Granted, I wasn't married when I saw the stage version, so I probably missed a lot. To me, though, the Phantom was deformed, angry, murderous and lustful. In the movie, I saw no reason why Christine would even be tempted to fall for him. I loved Raoul's character more and more.

Which leads me to: Yes!! Christine definitely made the right choice! In the movie, you really see the contrast of the Phantom's passionate, lustful, jealous love to Raoul's tender, protective, selfless love. I know that the Phantom ultimately sacrificed his own happiness at the end, which is pretty cool...but overall, I'm totally for Team Raoul! :)

Brooke said...

Hi Elise! I absolutely love your blog and your opinions. Please check out my book blog...

http://reviewsfromareader.blogspot.com

Thanks.

Brooke

Alexandra said...

Hahaha! Weeeelll....I gueesssss I'll keep following you. :-D

I don't hate GB...I just don't like his singing. :-D He's a fantastic actor and if he had a better voice, I might tolerate his Phantom more.

I do agree with Beast's Belle on her comments about the stage vs. the film...it's my biggest problems with it.

And the Swedish guy has a lovely, lovely voice.

Ok, in the end, Christine definitely did the right thing. As much as we may sympathise with the Phantom and his moment of self sacrifice at the end (sniff), we can't pretend that her love alone would really change anything. He'd probably still be obsessive and possessive, and she probably would never be able to really be "herself" the way that she was with Raoul. Sooooooo even though I've always been Team Phantom, I do feel very strongly that yes, she did the right thing.

The Editrix said...

I agree with Alexandra - whilst I am on Team Phantom (well, obviously, from the premise of this post!), I do feel that Christine made the right choice - really, the only sane choice that she could have made.

Beast's Belle and Alexandra, I also agree about the level of sensuality in the movie. Whilst it was kept within PG-bounds, I still wish they would have toned it down a little.

Beast's Belle, I have no intention of EVER seeing or listening to Love Never Dies, but I will look up that one song on YT!

Added grittiness. I think seeing the raucous backstage life and actually witnessing the Phantom murder his victims spoiled some of the enjoyment for me. I had a very "rose-colored" impression of the stage that was not portrayed in the movie. Also, in the stage version, you never see the Phantom's murders. Not only does this add to his mysteriousness, but you find yourself thinking "Maybe he didn't do it!"

That's an interesting point! I've never had the opportunity to see the stage show, but hopefully I will one day.

Enbrethiliel:

I never saw the Phantom and Christine as great lovers.

I've never read the book, but from what I understand, that was never Gaston Leroux's intention, either - for better or for worse, it was Andrew Lloyd Webber who changed POTO from a Gothic horror story into a romance.

Finally, I think it says something that the most famous love song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's entire repertoire is a duet with Christine and Raoul. I remember a critic pointing out that during the first acts of the musical, Christine sings other people's music (the Phantom's or Raoul's) and only finds her own themes and melodies in the end--so All I Ask of You isn't the equal exchange it sounds like when sung out of context.

That's another really interesting point, and something that I'd never thought of before!

Wow, Team Raoul is a small but vocal minority! :-D Good to see.

Theresa:

Yeah, I like Gerard Butler's version because I think he fits the role set up by Andrew Lloyd Webber best. The only real repulsive aspect about him is his evilness. I like how as an audience we kind of fall in love with the Phantom, so suffer the same torn feelings that Christine feels.

Exactly!

Traxy - yay, nice to find another Samuelsson fan! :D

Brooke, thanks for that - I'm off to check out your blog right now!

Thank you EVERYONE for your comments!

OldFashionedCharm said...

Elise, I haven't seen you around lately, this series of posts is going to be very interesting!
I always felt so sorry for the Phantom, but on the other hand I think Christine definitely made the right choice in choosing Raoul. Also there's the truth that everyone is responsible for their own actions despite how they were brought up or their circumstances. There's a lot of good Erik could have done even behind the scenes as he lived (like a superhero type).
I do love POTO though and really want to go see it on Broadway some day. Mikael Samuelsson's voice is amazing, perfect for the part!

~Miss Laurie
Old-Fashioned Charm

Charity said...

My favorite Phantom -- John Cudia. Saw him live, he made me cry in the second half, the only Phantom ever to actually accomplish that. Runner up, Hugh Panaro, who sounds incredibly like Michael Crawford. I deny that Gerard and his "bad sunburn" Erik actually exist. (I actually own the movie, and watch it now and again, but the soundtrack is... unfortunate.)

Did Christine make the right choice? Yup. The pathetic little twit is unworthy of Erik. ;) Although... Raoul is kind of a moron if you really think about it. (Constantly telling her the Phantom did not exist, planning how to capture him while walking in the opera house, etc.)

Favorite villains? Phantom, Dracula, Carver Doone, Professor Moriarty, Lex Luthor, etc.

Jennoelle said...

The Phantom is such a complex character, and even though you just KNOW Christine couldn't end up with him and that Raoul is so much better, you can't help but love and pity him.
Gerald Butler did a good job, yes, but I agree that he doesn't have the best voice in the world. But OHMYDEARSWEETGOODNESS have you ever heard of Ramin Karimloo? His voice, talent, passion...he amazes me. He is currently originating the Phantom's role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's (DUMB) sequal Love Never Dies, and even though the musical has a pathetic pretense, Ramin is beyond incredible.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47dUc4iMAvQ Go watch that video. Or rather, listen to it, because the video itself is rather strange. It's Ramin as the Phantom singing about Christine, and you just would not believe the amazingness of this guy's voice.
Sorry to ramble. I adore Phantom of the Opera so I can't much help it. :)

Lilly said...

I'm Swedish and I was a bit scared of the though of hearing a POTO song in my native language as I'm very international and always have everything in English. But I must say, the Swedish version of The Music of the Night is amazing. The translation of the lyrics is perfect, as well as the voice.

Anonymous said...

I think that Gerard Butler was great at portraying the character of the Phantom and put a lot of emotion into it. And his voice was absolutely perfect as well he was so powerfull and dreamy, also his voice was rough at times which was also perfect for the character of the Phantom.. and other times it was beautiful and sweet.

As for our star miss Christine Daae, in the end she made the Wrong choice I feel that she had much stronger feelings toward Erik and while she left with Raoul on the boat all I think in my head is "no what are you doing you love him and he loves you! Don't turn your back on him and leave him!" But if I was in her shoes I would choose Erik in a HEARTBEAT! Not because I feel sorry for him, though I sort of do, but mostly because he has so much passion and love and I feel we would be so much alike..So overall I feel she should have chosen the Phantom at the end they both would have been so happy.. and well Raoul heck he could find a girl to take her place he has the looks and everything ( and money)

Phantom of the Opera is the greatest movie ever! I don't watch it once without crying because of the intense and emotional music along with the plot and characters! Here comes a river!,
Liz

Anonymous said...

Elise, I appriciate it that you didn't completely give all around rude remarks about Gerard and you did see some good ways he fit the character. Lots of people give all around rude remarks without considering anything well that he put into it and I never want to read it.. So thank you I enjoyed be able to read all of yours! :)
Liz