Gerald Butler as The Phantom & Emmy Rossum as Christine Daae
It’s a little unfair to discuss this movie against the book as it’s a movie version of the famous musical version of the book. It’s one degree off from anything related to the book, so instead let’s just discuss the movie for what it is, a lovely little mess.
On the whole it’s visually a pretty movie but it made a lot of bad technical and casting choices that make not a good adaptation of the musical adaptation of the book. Let’s just start with the big one, the Phantom. They got very little right about his character. First off the decide to skew younger with casting Gerald Butler and gave him a rock edge. Second the deformity is really minimal. I get that one idea they had is humanize aspect of the musical. Like all the Phantom’s tricks and genius illusions are explainable but in making his deformity which kept him apart and unloved by society no more than a bad sunburn and a slight droop in his eye is childish. Also compared to other singers of the Phantom, Butler doesn’t measure up. So we have a good looking Phantom who can’t sing and the is the major converse of his character.
As far as Emmy Rossum as Christine, I’m not a fan of how she sung the role but as far as looking innocent and doe-eyed she was fine. I do wish they and gotten someone else though but considering the casting on the Phantom especially when Ramin Karimloo (favorite Phantom) was cast in the movie as Christine’s father.
More than the questionable casting this movie despite it’s prettiness make some weird choices. For instance the Marquerade scene is all monochromatic despite the songs saying their are colors everywhere and Christine’s not in costume. Why is her Opera costume Empress Sissi and not like the other costumes prior? I could go on and on and on. Those are little things that take a person out the movie especially when you’re supposed to lots in feels.
The emotions that lost in this movie version are partly being the filmmaker made everything more subtle because it’s a movie. The subtly how the emotions present makes it harder to connect so it really just become boring and with the odd choice and weird casting it become a mess albeit a shallow pretty mess.
Lon Chaney as Erik, the Phantom and Mary Philbin as Christine Daae
Despite what some people think, the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera is not the first film version. There was an earlier one that now lost. This version was also reissused in 1929.
Of all the movie versions of Phantom this one is the most culturally ingrained and till Webber’s musical is one of the more seminal versions of Leroux book. It was a landmark film not only for the Universal Monster genre but sets and make-up. Like in The Hunchback of Notre Dame two years earlier, Lon Chaney did his own make-up and it was a real set-up from Quasimodo. People were terrified of Chaney’s Erik. But also the look and mood of the movie is great.
As far as the movie goes as adaptation of the novel it follows short, especially of how it COULD have been. Number one, the characters are all pretty darn simplistic. Erik just comes off as crazy; albeit with dramatic crazy in love but it doesn’t go as deep as in the book. He doesn’t even get the redemption that makes him a bittersweet figure.
Raoul is also different. He is not the whining stalker he is in the novel but more dashing and the typical lead of the time. He is also played by Norman Kerry who played Phoebus in the 1923 version. Mary Philbin’s Christine is one point but again she not a wish-washy as she is the book.
For the most part, scene per scene, beat by beat the movie plays out close to the book while streamline things that is TILL the ending. In this movie Christine agrees to marry Erik and instead of him dying a alone of a broken-hearted, he grabs Christine and is chased and killed by a mob. Which is ridiculous. Chaney didn’t care for this ending but it tested better with audiences. The original ending that was shot, is more faithful, with Erik’s redemption of letting Christine go and dying at his organ. They also shot the scene where Erik plays the violin at the graveyard. So the movie could have been more like the book. Though the chase does go by Notre Dame.
All in all, the 1925 isn’t a bad movie and is a fairly good version of book. But I would say watch it more for this movie’s importance and not for the story and the characters.
Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera with Mary Philbin as Christine Daae
Finally a deformed dude from movie(s) that I’m familiar with. Prior to Hunchback I was big into the Phantom of Opera so I have seen a lot of the movie/ musical version of this.
Phantom of the Opera comes from book written by Gaston Leroux from 1909 and was made into several popular movies namely the 1925 version starting former Quasimodo, Lon Chaney and 1943 version starting Claude Rains, though it was the 1986 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that made it a Household name.
The basic plot of Phantom is a deformed musical and all around genius, a.k.a Erik, lives under a Paris opera house where he falls in love with an aspiring opera diva, Christine Daae. Erik is obsessed Christine and kills though who get in his way. Unlike our pal Frollo, Erik is in love with Christine to fair degree. In a way Erik is a combo of Quasimodo and Frollo. He’s tragic and dreams of beauty and love but he is crazy.
Erik’s appearance and back story changes from version to version. In the book he looks like a corpse with a skull head and gray skin. The book was the basis for Chaney’s make-up. In the 1943 version, he was burnt with acid. The Webber musical used a half make so the performer could singer easier. The deformity therefore only affect one side of his face. Typically the deformity has a hug lip, exposed areas and doesn’t look very nice. The 2004 version just looked like a bad sunburn.
Well the brings us to the end and it’s time to re-read Phantom, I better get reading.