Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera

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Written by Gaston Leroux and first published in 1909,The Phantom of the Opera is a classic tale of a dramatic romance triangle that is sure to entice you.
     When the story began, it wasn’t very spectacular, and I didn’t really understand everything that was going on, but as I read I began to be enthralled by it. The writing style is wonderful, the characters are well-written, and the storyline is of quality. This is now one of my classic favorites, so much so that I bought a glorious black and red hardback version all for myself! *drools lovingly*
     You would think from the movies, songs, and the musical that this book would have a lot of…ahem, kissing and such. But in fact, the only most explicit thing is a single kiss on the FOREHEAD. However, something you may want to know is that there it a bit of violence. Some hanging, swords and guns, a torture chamber (not exactly what you would think though). A couple profanities are in the book, but not as many as you will find in the film adaptations or even in some of the angry songs sung by the Phantom. I don’t find it to be much to worry about, though.
     I am in no way in the habit of reading Gothic romance novels, but The Phantom of the Opera is really rather different and less cliché than you may expect it to be. It has a wide reader appeal, but most people I know who like it are teenage girls.
     For those teenage girls, beware! The Phantom of the Opera can cause major fangirlism, like: “Erik is so misunderstood you guyses nobody gets him he just need me to hug him forev! OMG Christine is silly if I were her I would have dumped Raoul hes so ugly!” So don’t say I didn’t warn you. But hey, if you’re going to be a fan of something, why not be a fan of an intriguing classic that has stood the test of time?
If you want accuracy, read the book, because so far none of the adaptations that I have seen are quite accurate, and they suffer for each inaccuracy. For heaven’s sake does NO ONE just stick to the book these days? But, I shall not throw them out for their shortcomings, for they can still be rather enjoyable.
    Perhaps the most renowned adaptation is Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical with  Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine. I haven’t seen it, but I know all the songs from it. In my opinion (and you will find that other’s opinions greatly vary here) I think Brightman is good for Christine. She has an innocent and pretty, yet immense voice, and looks right for the part too. However, I am not thrilled with Michael Crawford, he comes across as a bit odd to me and doesn’t have that lovable element. So far my favorite voice for the Phantom that I’ve heard is Antonio Banderas- you can find him singing with Sarah Brightman on YouTube.
     The Phantom of the Opera 2004 movie is, in fact, a musical and seems to pretty much copy Webber's musical. It’s well done, with one of the most AMAZING opening scenes ever, where you see an old chandelier on the ground of an abandoned opera house raising up and transforming along with the rest of the opera house into it’s former beauty. It is a very dramatic and incredible scene, it is worth watching the movie just for that. Some of the other scenes are really wonderful too, but my main annoyance with the film is that they have a flash-back sob story about how the Phantom was kept by a cruel traveling circus as a child or some such nonsense. In the book he WAS part a a circus, but it was not cruel or against his will.
     The Phantom of the Opera 1990 miniseries was all right and I enjoyed it, but ALSO has created an inaccurate past for the Phantom. Not as bad as the circus thing though, I suppose.
     As for the actors that play the roles in all three adaptations I have talked about: everybody always gets the Phantom wrong- it’s like they didn’t read the book and have no idea what he’s supposed to look like. He is supposed to be skeletal with no nose and sunken eyes with a mask covering his entire face, with two holes for his eyes- extremely unattractive. But somehow the movies manage to make him buff and handsome, with the mask barely covering part of his face. Click here to see what he looks like more accurately. Christine is satisfactory, but not particularly perfect. And Raoul is always perfect, haha.
     A popular cover of the main Phantom of the Opera song from Webber’s musical is done by Nightwish (old Nightwish that is, with Tarja as the lead vocalist). It’s not exactly RIGHT like some of the other versions, but I love it. Except of course the guy who sings for the Phantom…. He has long stringy hair and it sounds like he has a sore throat when he sings. But alas, nothing is perfect.
     Conclusion? Read the book. The BOOK. Then, if you like it, go ahead and sing the songs, save the fan-art to your computer, and watch all the film adaptations if it so pleases you as it has me.

Criteria                      1-10
Creative Characters: 7
Excitement: 9
Plot: 10
Interest: 9
Well-Written: 10
Emotional Involvement: 10
Mature Content: 3