This is the first musical I can remember watching, and I have to give it credit for getting me interested in musical theater. I’ve never wanted to be on stage myself, but I love watching. I don’t like calling it a musical, though, because it’s more than that. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I could watch it forever. The singing, acting, dancing, story are all on point. This movie is like a part of who I am. It’s a masterpiece.
Sex/nudity: 3/10 (nude statues, a bare butt, kissing, caressing, one song in particular is pretty sensual)
Violence: 5/10 (a main character murders several people, fighting, blood)
While watching 2004’s Phantom of the Opera I had to seriously consider whether this film would be any good if it weren’t for the musical score and the songs. Before we get into this question, what’s this movie about?
In 1870, Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum) is a performer at an opera house and has caught the attention of the building’s most famous resident, The Phantom (Gerard Butler). Through murder, sabotage, and blackmail, the masked man who lives beneath the building is determined to make Christine into a star. Unfortunately for him, Christine’s talent has attracted the attention of her childhood sweetheart, Raoul (Patrick Wilson).
This movie looks and sounds terrific. The sets and costumes create a grandiose scale to the entire production. From the operas within the film to the Phantom’s dark catacombs, it’s a visual feast. The scene where Christine is swept off her feet by the Phantom and brought down to his underground lair is incredible. She is entranced by his mystique and sex appeal to the point it makes the tunnels look like a palace. That first look at the Phantom’s lair embodies everything good about this movie.
It’s hard to say exactly it is what brings this distant adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel down. It’s several accumulating factors. First, the characters. The Phantom is interesting, if only because he’s a talented maniac. The other sides of the love triangle are bland. Several of the side players are two-dimensional cartoons. The best example has to be Christine’s rival, Carlotta (Minnie Driver). She even has the shrill voice and toy poodle hanging around her all the time to hammer in that she’s an intolerable primadonna. There’s no middle ground, which makes it hard to care about what’s happening when there’s no music. Director Joel Schumacher sometimes has the characters speaking in rhyme, sometimes has them talk normally. It distracts you further and makes the outlandish moments feel out of place. When there are action scenes, they’re not well shot and poorly coordinated. You’d think with Gerard Butler and Schumacher, both with big-budget action movies under their belt, this would’ve been better.
Overall 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera is pleasant. It isn’t the definitive telling of the story, unfortunately, which means there’s not much to watch it more than once. With numerous adaptations available either as classic black-and-white (or even silent) films or performed live, you can do better. I won’t dismiss it outright. The visuals and music are that good. In other ways, it leaves much to be desired. (On DVD, December 18, 2014)
In 1990, in the Swan theatre, Sam Mendes’ production
of Troilus and Cressida was very well received, and particular praise was given
to Ciaran Hinds’ performance as ‘a balefully magnificent Achilles’ (Wardle,
1990), ‘a dark, mocking hoodlum in leather, who might be on loan from a Los
Angeles street gang’ (Nightingale, 1990).
Reviewers stressed the chilling,
sinister nature of the portrayal of the character by Hinds: R. V. Holdsworth
(1990) called him a ‘contemptuous psychopath’ and several other reviewers
referred in passing to Patroclus as his ‘lover’ or his ‘boyfriend’ (for
example: Taylor, 1990; de Jongh, 1990).
The relationship between the two men
was clearly depicted as homosexual, including the use of contemporary visual
references such as black leather, but by 1990 there was no gasp of shock. It
was no longer modesty or distaste which relegated the nature of the men’s
relationship to a subclause in a review. It had become an accepted convention
of the play in production.
The review in the Guardian, by Nicholas de Jongh, was
particularly interesting, since it compared the 1990 Achilles with the 1968
version: ‘Ciaran Hinds as the bisexual Achilles, in an astonishing performance
which even surpasses Alan Howard’s once definitive portrayal, prowls suave,
quiet and watchful in black leather and a nasty smile. He exudes all the charm
of a python – except with his boyfriend Patroclus’ (de Jongh, 1990).
run at the Swan in 1990, de Jongh used the term ‘bisexual’ for Achilles, whilst
most other reviewers were concentrating their description of the 250 character
on his threatening, sinister quality. By the time the production transferred to
the Barbican, a year later in the summer of 1991, there had been an enormous
increase in the frequency of the use of the word ‘bisexual’ to describe Ciaran
“No matter what I have, or do in life, there always is this feeling that there is more. I am always searching, always striving for those moments when you do touch greatness, or whatever - when you even disappear for a moment then come out the other side and everyone has come with you and you’ve gone with them. That, in the end, is what acting really is all about for me.”