I had almost forgotten that I promised to talk about Love Never Dies in my discussion of the 2004 Phantom of the Opera film. Maybe I had blocked it out of my memory. Regardless, folks who are sick of hearing me complain about Gerard Butler’s Phantom can be happy that there is something I dislike even more. Continue reading
Archive for Phantom of the Opera
Apologies to all the Gerard Butler fangirls who love this film because of its dreamy title character, but if I could describe this film in one word, it would be suuuuuuuuuuuck.
I have conflicting feelings about the 1989 Phantom of the Opera movie. On the one hand, if you divorce the movie from its source material, it’s not a terrible film. On the other hand, I really don’t think the Phantom should ever, ever be a slasher film.
While I despise what Andrew Lloyd Webber did through his interference in the 2004 Phantom of the Opera movie and the absolute abomination that is Love Never Dies, I have to admit that the 1986 musical is pretty good. It has its flaws, but it has enough high points to put it right up there with the best of the Phantom adaptations. Most of the musical’s success comes from a very talented cast and the fact that it is the first real adaptation of the love story at the core of Gaston Leroux’s novel.
The 1962 adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera is everything the 1943 film was but more so. It has strong acting, with the Phantom played by Herbert Lom, plays up the disfigurement of the Phantom more, and has the unfortunate tendency to overemphasize the Phantom as a charming and sympathetic character. It matches what the 1943 film did well (except for the extra spoke in the love triangle, which I thought was a really good addition to the mythos), but keeps from being the ideal adaptation by repeating the previous film’s flaw of making the Phantom too much of a good guy.
What do Claude Rains, Lon Chaney, and Michael Crawford all have in common? They each starred as the titular antagonist in adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera which, while excellent on their own, missed key pieces of the puzzle that keep me from considering them to be on the same level as the original novel. The 1943 adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, which we are going to talk about today, happens to go one step further in that, while solid on its own, I believe that it actually did some long-term damage to the franchise that carried over into subsequent adaptations.
For most people, the 1925 adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera is the first time Gaston Leroux’s novel reached the big screen. Technically, this isn’t the case, as there was a Russian film based on the novel released in 1916. Whether that was any good, only the people who saw it over a century ago know; no copies of the film remain. So for our discussion of The Phantom of the Opera and its many adaptations, we have to skip over the first one and go right to the 1925 silent film starring Lon Chaney – which isn’t too bad a deal, since the silent film is pretty darned good.