the phantom of the opera

‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1962) is a beautiful, tense rendition that suffers from a poor final act

One of the major qualities one notices about director Terence Fisher’s Phantom is that it is distinctly English. There is no attempt to produce an English-language version of the famous doomed love story set in its original locale of Paris. Rather, the filmmakers opt to transplant the tragedy to the Opera House, streets and underground of dark and gloomy Victorian London. Shillings are mentioned instead of francs, and the cockney accents can be quite heavy at times (thankfully those speaking are limited predominantly to tertiary characters with minimal screentime). While some may argue that the shift is cosmetic, it accomplishes two things.

‘Phantom of the Opera’ (1943), a visual feast with the great Claude Rains, is hurt by a laborious script

If plot is used well, then screenwriters and directors can tack on as much as they see fit. However, in a great many instances, that is not the case. In the current example, the issue of a plot-heavy movie dragging the end product down is obvious from the first 20 or 30 minutes. It takes in incredible amount of time before Erique Claudin transforms into the titular antagonist. The film is deadest on making him more deserving of the viewer’s empathy than his 1925 counterpart ever was.

‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1925) is a stunning example of early Hollywood at its most lavish

Watching a silent film from the 1920s is a completely different experience than watching a film from any other era. Even when compared to old films from the 1940s and 1930s, one significant difference lingers: there are no talking parts. All dialogue is communicated to the viewer via a series of title cards. The music, sets, costumes and acting thus work all the harder to tell a story.

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