Sunday, 7 April 2013

And I heard as I've never heard before.

"Lot 666, then ladies and gentlemen: a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera."

In my opinion our favourite movies are not the most critically acclaimed films, or the best movies to have ever been made. They are the films that are most personal to us, ones we have a deep connection with, in essence the films we return to time and time again. I first saw The Phantom of the Opera when I was 12 years old, I had heard the music growing up and always loved it. And when my parents bought the DVD of the 2004 film, I was very curious to finally learn the whole story surrounding the Phantom. Before I start the review properly here is a little background on the history of the Phantom. For those of you who don't know The Phantom of the Opera (or Le Fantôme de l'Opéra to give it, its original title) was written by Gaston Leroux in the early 1900's. It has had a few film adaptations over the years, including the 1925 Lon Chaney version and the 1943 Claude Rains version. But in 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber took the story and turned it into musical, it has now been running for 27 years in the West End and has had over 10,000 performances on broadway, and this is where our story begins.

Christine Daaé is a chorus girl at the Opéra Populaire in Paris, she has been having singing lessons from a mysterious person she only knows as the Angel of Music, which is in fact the Phantom, who lives within the deepest recesses and catacombs of the opera house. One day after the resident Prima Donna Carlotta refuses to sing, Christine is thrown into the limelight and is greeted with much success, whereby she catches the attention of Raoul the Viscount of Chagny, a former childhood sweetheart. Upon the Phantom learning of the exact relationship between Christine and Raoul, a dangerous love triangle begins.There are many main themes within The Phantom of the Opera, love, obsession, fear and desire to name but a few. Underneath all of the layers of sub-plot it's essentially the story of a man who just wants to be loved and treated like a 'normal' human being, and for the world to accept his appearance. Gerard Butler's performance was superb, his portrayal of the Phantom was just enthralling he could go from murderous rage to incredible vulnerability in seconds. He possesses both menace and hypnotic charm behind that iconic mask of his, and it's easy to see why Christine is seduced by the Phantom. Emmy Rossum brings a lot of the heart and warmth to the story, with her innocence and purity playing Christine. Seeing her deal with an internal struggle, to come to terms with the man and idol who gave her stardom and her voice must be trapped, and she is the only one who can do it, is just heart wrenching.

The settings throughout the movie are just sumptuous, and truly captures the lavish and spectacular opera scene in 1870.The soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera is some of my favourite music of all time, the score is mesmerizing and complex, it never fails to give me goosebumps. Whenever I hear the opening instrumental first few bars of 'The Phantom of the Opera' the hairs on the back of my neck always stand up.

My favourite song in The Phantom of the Opera is, The Point Of No Return. This is the song where the Phantom does truly confess his love and passion for Christine, however you can tell at that point Christine does choose the Phantom, even though just before she was conflicted as to what choice to make. You can see it in her eyes and body language, she's given in to her desires, the moment Christine sees him her mind is made up. She forgets she's in front of an audience she's completely consumed by him, she loves the danger and mystery he represents. And when they finally meet on top of the bridge all the chemistry and lust between them just explodes, their relationship is some what similar to a passionate gothic romance. And the Phantom copying Raoul's song from earlier, 'say you'll share with me, one love one lifetime.' Is both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

Christine has always been the Phantom's protégé, but over the years she turns into his whole world, without her it would collapse, so when the very real danger of Raoul appears, he resorts to anything to keep Christine. Throughout the movie there are two main types of song, the innocent, sweet, light, fairytale romance of Raoul & Christine and the dark, sensuous and passionate relationship the Phantom and Christine share. Granted there are other songs, however most of these are overshadowed by the raw emotion the main 3 characters convey.

The final scene in the Phantom's lair is hard to watch, the Phantom forces Christine to choose between Raoul the love of her life dying, or choosing him the fallen idol Christine once thought she knew. Yet even after all the emotional turmoil and danger the Phantom has put her through, Christine still shows kindness and compassion, she even wears the engagement ring that he gave her. And this in turn gives the Phantom that moment of love he has always desired even though it was fleeting. Seeing Christine give the Phantom back his engagement ring whilst he says he loves her, is truly one of the saddest scenes I have ever seen.

At the end of the movie when we see Christine Daaé's grave there is a rose with a black ribbon tied around it with an engagement ring attached to it, this implies that the Phantom is still alive somewhere, and will always love and adore Christine.

Overall The Phantom of the Opera is a story about unrequited love, betrayal, love, obsession and passion. It's an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and will always be my favourite musical of all time.


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