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Cinematic "Phantom of the Opera" adds rich visuals to stage show's music

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews
Article Date: January 5, 2005 | Publication: 14850 Cinema | Author: Stephanie Pakrul
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Ithaca, 5 January 05 -- I write this review from the angle of a dedicated "Phantom of the Opera" fan (or Phan, as we tend to be called). Even though I've seen the stage musical 39 times, did my senior English project on the story, and am generally a wee bit obsessed with the whole thing, I will attempt to be unbiased.


Musically, the movie version of "The Phantom of the Opera," open now in select theatres and opening more broadly on January 21st, is true to the original stage production. Aside from a few minor lyrical changes, and some additional instrumental music, it is very similar. Visually, though, the show couldn't be more different. The sets and costumes are breathtaking; it's clear that no expense was spared in bringing rich detail to every corner. I was swept away by the beauty of it all.

Since the movie was first announced, I've eagerly followed the casting of "The Phantom of the Opera." Upon first seeing Emmy Rossum (Christine Daae), I knew that she was visually perfect for Christine. Finally, a young, naive girl instead of an overly made-up 30 year-old. Emmy sings well and has the innocent quality in her voice that her character calls for. Just a few rough spots in her phrasing and lip-syncing detract from the film's quality.

In lowering Christine's age, they had to make the Phantom (Gerard Butler) much younger as well, a bit of a blow for the character's father-like qualities and supposed worldly experience. Their voices are both quite good, and I found myself growing to like Gerard's rockish Phantom. I find his casting choice a bit odd given the nearly limitless possibilities.

Patrick Wilson as Raoul was an excellent casting choice. His voice is magnificent and he plays the upstanding pretty-boy so well. Raoul's role is emphasized more in this movie version than in the stage show, really drawing out the "love triangle" among the three main characters.

Some odd back-story additions (such as Mme. Giry's involvement with rescuing Erik, and Christine being raised at the Opera House) irked me. For example, they now claim that Erik has lived at the Opera House nearly all of his life. How does this lend itself to his mastery of architecture, history, magic, music, and so on?

Bring a spare pair of underwear for "Music of the Night" and "Point of No Return." I was blown away by the sensuality of these pieces. Minnie Driver as the over-the-top diva Carlotta nearly steals the show. She's hilarious, especially paired with the butt-kissing managers.

Bottom line: Not the be-all and end-all of Phantom productions, but simply beautiful.

 


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