Monday, December 20, 2004

The Phantom strikes again

Phantom Posted by Hello
A confession, I have never seen the original stage play of the Phantom of the Opera but I’ve been an ardent fan after hearing the powerful music Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote especially such tunes as “Angel of Music” and “Remember Me”. If his other works are to go by, the Phantom of the Opera is one of his better productions. It’s no doubt the play is a good one and the story is of time immortal. But how does the movie rank?

The story follows religiously to the play by Sir Andrew with an interlude of the Paris Theatre being auctioned off after its heydays and two people were present. The auctioning starts and thus an item of memory caused both to bid and the man in the wheelchair won to own a music box in the shape of a monkey. This cues back to the old days with the hustle and bustle of theatre life, the stage ruled by the Prima donna, Carlotta (Minnie Driver). Two new owners has secured the purchase and when suddenly Carlotta threatens to walk out, they found Christine (Emmy Rossum) to fill in and thus a new star is born.

Raoul (Partick Rossum), is the viscount and has met Christine in his past and once he heard her sing, fell in love with her. Yet another being lies behind the shadows, the secret tutor of Christine, her Angel of Music. He lords over the theatre and threatens harm to those that does not let him have his way and his passion with Christine borders obsession and soon proves fatal for those that gets in his way. When Christine breaks away from him to love Raoul, tragedy and a vendetta starts to ferment between this trinity and soon confrontation sets in the stage of the Paris theatre. In the end, redemption, love and eternal longing.

The first words that come into mind when watching the movie are opulence and decadence. The scenery and props will be one of the best of any film you will see. From the moment you walk into that theatre in Paris, greeted by the towering gold statuette with hundreds of lighted candles to the grand opera hall and the giant chandelier hanging in the centrepiece, you’ll be amazed. Every scene you trudge, you’ll view a visual jackhammer, from the sewers under the theatre where the mysterious phantom calls his abode to the desolate eerie graveyard of Christine’s departed father. If the Phantom of the Opera does not win the best picture (which I’m sure it stands a good chance for nomination), I’m sure it’ll at least secure the awards for best costume, best cinematography and best choreography.

The music will be familiar to anyone who has heard the soundtrack from the play, a departure from his last film adaptation of Evita, dialogue is present in part here to connect parts of the movie not covered in the play, other are rewrites of familiar melodies present in the play. The audience will look forward to reliving old favourites here; from Remember me, Angel of music, I remember, Past the point of no return, Prima Donna, Masquerade and Wishing that you were somehow here again. These songs are timeless and will set to enthral you once more on the screen. Most of the film will be in song but at times cut into normal dialogue.

The acting is good but not overwhelming, Gerard Butler as the Phantom has done well to convey the phantom’s duality of nature; his fear of his own disfigurement and the yearning of his love for Christie; of his pain suffered and the pain he causes, to the compassion and love he later expresses. Among the casts, he and Patrick Rossum (who plays Raoul) lived up to their characters while most of the rest either play very little part except as bit actors or just not good enough to bring the character about. Raoul just exudes the aura of the hero and gentleman as he battle for the love of Christie. Christie (played by Emmy Rossum) has a good voice and most of the songs of her character she has managed to convey through powerfully but most of the act she acts fragile and scared and even in moments of strength she couldn’t perform to the level necessary to convey that, especially the scene where she unmasks the phantom. Carlotta (Millie Driver) injects great character for being a tight assed bitch of a spoilt senior actress that needs to be pandered and fussed over for the show to go on.

Overall a very good watch, not everyone will like it I’ll admit especially those that find plays to be boring and not worth their time. For those not able to go to a theatre to watch the play, this will prove quite a watch as the cinematography is made to seem as if the movie itself is being staged on a play setting. You’ll love the scenery, feel the richness of the story, sympathise, hate and pity the phantom and get yourself immersed in the world of Parisian theatre. A timeless love story and the discovery of self, of the battle between being accepted despite your appearance and of the corruption of the heart. A bit disjointed at times when there is a lull in the singing and dialogue fills the void but flow isn’t too badly affected. Watch for the ending.

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