Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

I'm back from my beach vacation.  Even though we only live 35 minutes from a beach, our work schedules make it impossible to go, but we made time for our 5th wedding anniversary.  So I'm back to writing and today's film is The Phantom of the Opera.  In today's standards, it's not scary, but it is a good classic version of the story and there is no annoying singing.
I was wondering how they were going to portray an opera because it's a silent film.  It would be no good to watch Christine, who is supposed to be an amazing soprano, if we couldn't hear her.  So I was very surprised to actually hear her!  I know the audio didn't match the video perfectly, but that was before they had that kind of technology.  They did the best they could with what they had and it works.  Also, the music in this film is far better than most silent films I've seen.
So, the Phantom is infatuated with Christine and wants to make her a star.  So he threatens the owners of the theatre with a curse if they let Carlotta sing instead of her.  She isn't afraid of ghosts and sings anyway.  The Phantom responds by causing the giant chandelier to crash down!  That thing is so ginormous.  He could have easily killed several people and he doesn't even care. 
Lon Chaney did his "Phantom" makeup himself.  He used shading to make his face look more skull-like. His nose was held back by hooks in the nose connected to a string.  It was the only way to give the illusion of having no nose and it made his actual nose bleed during filming!  But he did it anyway! He was such a boss.  When his mask is off, his ears are taped back, but whenever he's wearing the mask, his ears are clearly not taped back.

I always wondered why the Phantom was so butt ugly.  Watching different versions of the film didn't help because they give him a different story.  This film is closest to the novel, which I totally read and not the sparknotes.  The Phantom looks that way because he was born that way.  It's some kind of birth deformity, but it doesn't match anything in reality.

I was also surprised by the use of color in this film.  The most use of color was during the masquerade ball.  Sure, it's scattered, but I can tell they tried.  I like it when black & white films are tinted, such as the green for the basement, because it adds interest.  My co-film critic also enjoyed this aspect.  She's a nonverbal autistic girl and tries hard to find something to focus on, and with black & white films this is very hard.  The tinted scenes break up the monotony for her.  She also really liked Lon Chaney, because he is expressive with his hands.  I told her that this is because his parents also could not speak and used their hands.  She has since then used much more sign language to convey what she wants rather than screeching.  I am very happy about this.

Overall, both of us enjoyed watching this film and this is one of the better adaptations we have seen.  I will give it a 7/10.


  1. Congratulations on your anniversary and for raising such an astute movie fan.

  2. Nice review Lindsey! I liked this one two. Lon Chaneys face is awesome and the masquerade is indeed a nice touch. Only, I thought the "heroes" hunting the phantom were immensely stupid.