A Review of the Movie Version of “The Phantom of the Opera” Essay

A Review of the Movie Version of “The Phantom of the Opera”

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            The 2004 movie version of “The Phantom of the Opera”, was based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. The film was directed by Joel Shucmacher, who was able to give justice to the adaptation of the said novel. The director basically worked hand in hand with world renowned composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber in the personification of the novel. This in turn, was also turned by the latter into a world-renowned play.

            “The Phantom of the Opera” was a story about an intellectual gifted and musical genius, who lived a life of hiding under the labyrinths of the Opera Populaire in Paris. His disfigured face made him hate life, which in turn, left him scaring and killing people in the opera house. The phantom, known as Erik, has been enchanted with the singing voice of Chrisine Daae, and secretly taught her so as to improve her voice further. To win her heart, Erik plotted on making Christine a star in the opera house. He sent letters to the management threatening them if they did not give Christine the lead part.

            Soon after, Christine was given the lead role in one of the performances. She was well received by the audience, and was able to capture the attention of her childhood lover, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny. The Phantom soon becomes jealous of the emotion that was heightened by the two lovers, and soon enchants Christine to his lair.

            Knowing that Christine cannot escape the madness set upon by the Phantom, Raoul proposed that both of them should run away. Unknown to them, the Phantom was nearby, and listening to the plans the lovers had. The Phantom becomes enraged and was destined to separate the two lovers. He makes another opera performance, this time proposing that Christine should be in the title role. During the play, the Phantom had plotted for him to take Christine to his lair, with high hopes that the lady would learn to love him despite his horrific features. Christine soon unmasked the phantom, to see his true identity. All ran away upon seeing the hideous appearance that the phantom had, except for Christine. She looked at him with much pity, and felt for the first time that the Phantom was lonely. She decided to go with him to the lair to learn more about the gentleman.

            The Phantom succeeds with his plan, that left Raoul trapped in a torture room. He soon finds his way and stood face to face with the phantom. Both were fighting for the love and attention of the lovely lady, Christine. The phantom soon locks Raoul in a prison, and threatened to kill him if Christine would not choose to love him. The pitiful lady was left with no choice, and decided to choose the latter over her beloved Raoul. In the end, the phantom decided to let them go and be together. The movie ended with both Raoul and the Phantom visiting Christine’s grave, both gentlemen still in love with the same lady.

            The performances of the actors were impressive. Emily Rossum, who portrayed Christine Daae’s role was a revelation. Her singing voice, accompanied by her innocent features fit the role perfectly. She was able to personify the role and play it effectively. Viewers of the film would be able to marvel in her the series of emotions that the play wanted its viewers to perceive.

            Opposite Christine Daae’s role was that of the phantom’s. From all of the characters in the story, that of the Phantom was the hardest to portray. Gerard Butler, who portrayed the role of the Phantom, was another revelation. The phantom was perceived as someone with a dark and mysterious life, who lived fully of anger and hatred for those around him. Gerard Butler’s eyes were the key to his effective performance. His scenes in the film often showed his eyes, and he was able to leave a certain mystery about his character through the way he looked. Another factor to be taken into consideration was his powerful voice. Emotions of the phantom could be felt by the viewers as he sang the dialouges in the film.

             The music in the film was an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s compositions. Some of the lines that were sung in the play were now spoken by the characters. I believe that this was a very bold move for the director; this modification helped make the film more interesting to see. Another alteration done was the chandelier scene. In the play version, Act One ended with the chandelier crashing. In the film version, the chandelier scene was moved to the climax of the movie, showing the chains fall down from the ceiling. This was an evident alteration made for effects, for it will be difficult for the production staff to actually give much detail in the crashing chandelier given the little time to change scenes.

            In addition to this, the appearance of the phantom was also modified. In the movie version, prosthetics were used to make the phantom’s appearance look more natural. I guess this was done to make the viewers feel that the phantom is not different from us after all. Some scenes were also added for effects, such as the numerous sword fights and the exaggerated locations in the film. One of these was the phantom’s lair. As Raoul looks down  the flight of stairs he has taken, he sees that the lair was deeper than how he had envisioned it to be. This gives the viewers a perception that the phantom is living in his “own little world”, far from that of reality.

            There was also a visible comparison between the endings of the two versions. In the   play version, the scene ends with both Christine and Raoul leaving the lair in a boat, with the phantom covering himself with a cape. The film version, on the other hand, ended with Raoul visiting Christine’s grave, seeing the phantom’s signature rose placed on the side of her grave.  Both versions still leave us with questions as to what happened to the Phantom after that faithful night, when only his masked was found in the lair.

            Another factor to be considered was the costumes. There was no denying that the film had actually spent a huge amount of money for the costumes. The garments worn by the actors in the film would give us an insight of how life was in the 1800’s. Similar to the play version, the costumes were fabulous. The only thing that separated the two was the fact that the film version was able to go into much detail because close-up shots were possible with the use of cameras.

            The setting for the movie was also something to be taken into consideration. Due to the extensive research that was given in this version, viewers were taken back to the life people had during the 1800’s. The different locations explicitly described in the novel were brought to life, adding more color and effect to the movie.

            Last but not the least was the music. Since the film version of “The Phantom of the Opera” was based on a musical, most of the dialogues were sung. The incorporation of music, especially in the pivotal parts of the story was astounding. These added more effect to the scenes, making audiences feel the emotions that were being felt by the characters for a particular scene. The scoring was done to fit the voice of the actors, including the dramatic personifications of the scenes.

            As I remember the film version, I cannot help but be left in awe at such masterpiece.  The movie was able to showcase true talent and a story that anyone could relate to some time in their lives. Out of ten masks, I give this an astounding ten.

References

Hitchcock, P., Webber, A.P. (Producers) & Shumacher, J. (Director). (2004). The phantom of       the opera [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

(2004). The show: The story. The phantom of the opera. Retrieved April 25, 2008 from             http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/poto/show/the_show_history.php

(2004). The phantom of the opera. Retrieved April 24, 2008 from             http://phantomthemovie.warnerbros.com/index2.html

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