The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Reviewer’s rating: ★★★★☆ (5-star is the highest rating)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writers: Joel Schumacher, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gaston Leroux, Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe
Length: 143 minutes
Stars: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Jennifer Ellison
Released Date: December 22, 2004 (US), December 10, 2004 (UK)
Adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical, The Phantom of the Opera, the movie has successfully turned a Broadway musical into a classic hit. One of the most approachable is the cast, who have overcome a series of strict casting tasks.
The movie is in some way quite similar to traditional musicals in rich Broadway style. It features a large number of arias and dance moves, which are set against the old opera house in France in the 18th century.
Derived from the musical by Webber and originally based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, the plot follows a soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as "The Phantom of the Opera". The Phantom lives in the watery labyrinths beneath the Opéra Populaire in Paris and taught Christine singing there. Phantom is deeply in love with her and he tries to do everything he can, including killing people, to make Christine become the main soprano of the opera house. However, Christine isn’t in love with him but with Raoul the Vicomte de Chagny, her childhood sweetheart. The story is then continued with the complicated relationships among the three and the revenge plan of the Phantom to the Opera house.
The movie has a beautiful and thrilling plot. I am rather disappointed with the wooden characters and their lack of emotions. That’s quite a mistake for it to concentrate on the music only. Though there are imperfections on the acting, I can easily follow the musical with its brilliant music and visual effects.
The settings are glamorous. The Phantom of the Opera has been famous for the scene where the huge crystal light falls from the top of the opera house by Phantom’s destruction. The movie has used a beautiful, golden 18th-century-like crystal light to complete the scene. This gives out an amazing and magnificent visual effect to the audience. What’s more, the movie has also used a special visual effect, which is changing the colour of the display from black-and-white to colours, then black-and-white again, to show the decay of the opera house. This emphasizes the prime of the movie, the opera house, and gives strong characteristics to it.
The singing skills of the leading cast and the choir are mature and fabulous. Emmy Rossum as Christine has shown the unique style of the character without adding too much personal elements to it. It’s hard to be done for such a young soprano like her. Gerard Butler as the Phantom, surprisingly, has a clear and beautiful tenor voice which can easily attract audiences’ attention. His solo piece “Music of the Night” has fully shown how tempting his voice is with fine pitch. The choir has also made a great effect on the movie, especially on creating nervous and frightening feeling to the scene. The original soundtrack of the movie is surely worth-buying. I would certainly like to own a recording of it.
The other eye-catchy feature of the movie is its wonderful costume design and makeup. I like the fancy dresses of Christine, especially the one she wears while she is singing “Think of me”. I wish I could have a full collection of her costumes! The makeup of the Phantom’s disfigured face is also lifelike. The scars are so real that they look really scary, though they are covered under the mask most of the time during the movie.
I believe that everyone will love to watch this movie, especially for music lovers. It is a movie that provides entertainment as well as knowledge about modern music. However, since it’s a romantic thriller, anyone expecting laughter from the movie will probably be disappointed.