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HBO's Making of "Behind the Mask"
Article Date: December 9, 2004 | Publication: HBO | Author: HBO (transcript by fieryangel)
JS: What’s great about ‘The Phantom’ is it’s a love story, it’s also a scary story—there’s this sort of gothic horror side to it.
PW: We’ve taken ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Hunchback’ you love finding real love, finding what is true love.
GB: ‘The Phantom’ is such a powerful piece ‘cause a lot of people identify with the pain that’s inside him.
JS: It’s a very sexy, young love story.
ER: Grand piano, and velvet curtains and candles and the whole big thing.
MD: It’s an old story of romance and loss.
ALW: It’s so simple, it’s just a love triangle really.
MR: There’s quite a lot of swashbuckling in it.
JS: It’s Paris, it’s 1870.
CH: There’s always this heightened, gothic, elegant madness going on.
Various others: It’s a fantastic love story.
Conductor guy (MM): It’s magic, ‘once upon a time.’ And if you start ‘once upon a time,’ and you’ve got a story to tell, everyone listens.
JS: Live theater is live theater and there’s no replacement for that. So my job was, well how do we make a film that might be exciting for a film audience.
ALW: And I happened to have seen ‘The Lost Boys,’ which JS directed, and visually, it was—I thought—a very impressive film. And I thought the use of music in it was exceptional.
JS: I said to ALW ‘I would do it on one condition, that the cast was very young.’ Because I felt that this story—there’s an innocence—Christine’s character especially is so innocent that I think that youth would assist it. And ALW said ‘fine, but they all have to do their own singing.
ALW: The fact is, we’ve got a girl who comes from the Metropolitan Opera School, who’s just 17 and has got a fantastic voice, we’ve got PW, who is one of the great natural lyric tenors from the theater, and then we’ve got GB, who’s got a great rock tenor voice. And so from the very word ‘go,’ it was sort of a given that we were not going to go for big stars in the leading roles. We were quite happy to go for names, like MD, for Carlotta.
MD: When Christine comes and takes over, it is such a change from this elaborate, passionate, crazy woman, to this beautiful, young ingénue.
PW: When you first meet Raoul, who’s become the patron of the Opera Populaire. Certainly then, in those times you died young, so when you found someone you loved, you went after it, and you got it.
ER: As her father’s dying, when she’s very young, he promises her that he’s going to send her an angel of music. She took it absolutely literally. Because she was so desperate to find a sign of that, when she first hears the Phantom’s voice she grasps onto it. She wants to believe that’s what it is.
PW: By the time Raoul figures out this is a real guy, then Raoul really wants to get him out of the picture.
ER: Their relationship starts as, obviously, one of great affection and admiration. But as she begins to mature and grow up into more of a young woman, the boundaries of their relationship start to become slightly more ambiguous. But at the same time, she’s fallen in love with her childhood sweetheart, Raoul. So that’s kind of where the triangle starts from.
JS: I think Christine’s relationship with Raoul, I think that’s really her romantic awakening as a teenager. But I think that her pull towards the Phantom is a very sexual, very deep, very soulful union.
GB: ‘The Phantom’ is such a powerful piece because, I think, a lot of people feel that deep down, that if you were to open up to the world that they would find you repulsive and ugly.
JS: Once and audience knows why people are they way they are, they understand who they are.
MR: Mdme Giry is instrumental as to why the Phantom is in the opera house in the first place. She helps him escape and hides him in the bowels of the theater. He’s made his own life since that day.
JS: Phantom, until you really get to know him, he’s really a creature of fear for many people.
GB: He lives in his fantasy, y’know, of what life could be like, and he creates this world that, where things would be perfect for him. So some people say ‘well he’s insane isn’t he.’ No, I think he becomes insane.
MR: The Phantom isn’t evil.
MM: There is this fear that the next accident could kill somebody.
JS: He’s just misunderstood.
PW: ALW has always had this, from ‘Superstar,’ ‘Joseph,’ ‘Evita,’ all these shows that I’ve grown up just adoring, I mean he can write tunes that one, are just very easy to listen to and very melodic, yes, but he knows how to make a melody line that you will remember.
MD: His music is, it is like pop music.
ALW: It is such a primal tale and it has an incredibly strong rock and roll ingredient to it that is not immediately obvious. ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is in actual fact, a rock and roll show masquerading as opera.
AS (exec producer): One of the great things about JS is he loves working with new people, he loves fresh challenges.
ER: He makes everyone want to do the best possible job. I don’t know how he does it, but he makes you want to do the best possible job that can be done—not that you can do—that can be done.
CH: I think probably because he’s been in the business so long, he has eyes for what he can see without having to put people into situations where they have to prove themselves.
GB: He is the Phantom in some ways, y’know. Because the Phantom is about being an artist, he designs sets, make props, costumes, and he can do all of those things, I mean that’s his life.
AS: One of the great things about doing a film is that you can open it up, to the rest of the world. There are, not only countries who could never actually put the stage show on, but there are people who can’t afford a legitimate theater ticket.
JS: Film gives you so much freedom to go places and do things you can’t do on the. In film, there’s an intimacy between the audience and characters.
PW: When you’re on film, you’re able to get so inside—how wonderful is it to be inside this, see the Phantom so close up you see his eyes, and by the end of the movie you’re in love with the guy.
ALW: I think it’s a fantastic movie, I think it stands in it’s own right. It’s a different thing to the stage show, but it’s still got exactly the same essence, and that’s all I could have ever hoped for. If anything, it’s expanded it and given it, perhaps, and even deeper emotional center.
MD: This is my ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ This is how I want it to stay in my mind.
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