'Phantom' offers haunting, beautiful music to complement classic story

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 21, 2005 | Publication: The Exponent Online | Author: Timothy O’Connor
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4 Stars out 5

"The Phantom of the Opera" is one of the best musical-to-movie adaptations ever. It successfully retains the feel of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous work while becoming instantly more accessible to those who have never seen it on stage.

"The Phantom of the Opera" is about rising opera star Christine and her mysterious phantom tutor, who terrorizes the opera house to further his protege’s career. After her breakout performance Christine is reunited with her childhood sweetheart, Raoul, and they begin to rekindle their love. Before long the Phantom brings the young student to his lair beneath the opera house, where he tells her of his plans to marry her. Christine soon finds herself torn between Raoul’s love and the vengeful Phantom.

"The Phantom of the Opera" is no stranger to film and several versions of the classic story have been made into movies. The audience’s familiarity with the story is one of the reasons why Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece translates so well to the silver screen. The recognizable music is haunting and easily the highlight of the film. Whether it is the mellow seductiveness of "The Music of the Night" or the despair of "The Point of No Return," the music perfectly conveys each character’s emotion throughout the film.

The actors do an excellent job of portraying their characters. It is fitting that the 18-year-old Emmy Rossum should play Christine. Rossum does a great job of showing both Christine’s innocence and her curious sexuality. The audience feels a strong connection to her character throughout the film, and we sympathize with her situation.

The audience pities the Phantom, played by Gerald Butler, because of his torturous childhood and mangled face. We feel his sorrow and pain through Butler’s portrayal, and understand why this musical genius knows only vengeance and longs for love.

Despite the story’s solid translation from musical to film, "Phantom of the Opera" doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities the film medium allows. Most of this is due to terrible camera work. Scenes rarely pan out to give the audience a grander idea of the setting and the action. Instead, director Joel Schumacher opts to use an overabundance of close-ups. As a result, much of the cinematography feels a bit too much like a music video.

Though not as good as the musical it is derived from, "The Phantom of the Opera" stands on the strength of its powerful music, haunting story and young actors. It serves as a fitting tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work and fans of the classic musical will surely be pleased.