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Jan. 4, 2005

"The Phantom of the Opera" will haunt for years to come

by Grace Harter, Page Editor and Nora Boedecker, Print Managing Entertainment Editor
The Phantom of the Opera is here - and not just in our minds. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical masterpiece "The Phantom of the Opera" has finally come to the big screen with the same heart-pounding organ music that has haunted the Broadway stage for over a decade. It also comes at less than one tenth the cost of a New York theater ticket.
The film has been nominated for three Golden Globes this year.
The film has been nominated for three Golden Globes this year.

Based on the classic French novel by Gaston Leroux, "The Phantom of the Opera" is at heart a love story. Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum) is an orphan chorus girl who becomes an opera star with the help of a tutor she believes to be the "Angel of Music" her dying father promised to send to her. This tutor, however, is a man who is none other than the famed phantom that haunts the Opera Populaire. A sadly disfigured and disturbed man who lurks in the labyrinths below the theatre, the phantom (Gerard Butler) will stop at nothing to see that his protégé rises to the top. However, when Christine's dreamy childhood sweetheart Raoul (Patrick Wilson) comes back into her life, everything comes crashing down, including the famous chandelier.

The plot is admittedly melodramatic and contains several holes and leaps of faith, but it is not the plot that makes this film so spectacular. The most enthralling aspect of the film is the same thing that has kept Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical running for so long on Broadway - the music. The score, filled with heavy organ music and dramatic solos, is spectacular.

The music is not the only aspect of the film worth noting; "The Phantom of the Opera" is also visually stimulating. The film begins by focusing on an old photograph, and as the camera zooms in, the picture gradually transitions from the grainy, faded look of the earliest movies to sharp black and white scenes. The movie's first scene is in a dilapidated opera house where items from the once-popular theatre are being auctioned off. The last item, the infamous chandelier, physically breaths light and color into the old theatre as it is hauled toward the ceiling for buyers to examine. As the broken chandelier rises, a wind sweeps throughout the theater that transforms the broken seats and dusty stage back into their color and magnificence from the theatre's heyday.

From this point on, the lavish sets are a feast for the eyes. From the phantom's dark and mystical lair to the grandiose opera house itself, director Joel Schumacher leaves no area unembellished. The costumes complement the setting with their rich colors and intricate design. In short, the film looks like a work of art.

There are a few awkward moments in the movie when characters sing to each other dialogue that would be more naturally spoken. Worse, the songs were prerecorded, and the cast sometimes has trouble with lip-syncing.

"The Phantom of the Opera" has a plethora of strong characters and actors who portray their characters well. Rossum is perfect for the role of Christine. Her performance is flawless, as is her voice, which conquers the incredibly challenging vocal range required without ever seeming to strain. Butler is haunting, and strangely attractive as the Phantom himself; he both attracts and repulses the audience by his evil deeds, which are ultimately motivated by love. However, he has recently come under much criticism for his vocal abilities; though his voice may not have the same qualities as many of Broadway's leading men, the rough quality is appropriate for the role of the phantom. Another strong performance was that of Wilson, as the dashingly handsome Raoul. But handsome or not, any woman would be happy to run off into his arms after hearing his gorgeous rendition of the duet "All I Ask of You" with Rossum.

This film is first and foremost a musical, an art form that does not appeal to everyone. At 143 minutes, it is long and a little over the top, even for a musical. However, the passionate music and elaborate dances are sure to delight any musical theater buff. For the rest of the movie-going world, just a word of warning: most of the dialogue is sung. To all those who don't think they can handle that, "Meet the Fockers" is probably playing right down the hall.

The Phantom of the Opera (143 minutes) is rated PG-13 for brief violent images.

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  • concerned (View Email) on January 4, 2005 at 7:46 PM
    its spelled "glamour" not in the way you spelled it in your last paragraph....i like the review but for someone who feels so passionately about the movie, you shouldn't have rushed this piece, edit better SCO
  • wow on January 4, 2005 at 7:58 PM
    veryyyy well written! i will make sure to see it myself! great job nora!
  • lotte on January 4, 2005 at 10:31 PM
    I luv this show!!
  • you're an idiot on January 5, 2005 at 7:55 AM
    concerned is an idiot....see it can be spelled either way, think before you type
  • Senior on January 5, 2005 at 11:03 AM
    I usually don't like musicals or "artistic" type movies, but this movie was exceptional. It was so well done, you have to love it.
  • The Phantom of English 101 on January 5, 2005 at 10:47 PM
    It's spelled "glamour" if you're British. "Glamor" is correct in this country.
  • musicalgeek on January 6, 2005 at 9:23 AM
    i did love the movie, though I thought Rossum really could not act. She had the same wide-eyed, confused look in every scene. I did love her voice though.
  • Akari on January 6, 2005 at 10:15 AM
    An awesome movie, if I do say so myself.
  • Broadway fan on January 6, 2005 at 10:32 AM
    I LOVED this movie. I do have to agree that the music is the best part, but anyone who has an appreciation for film as an art form will love "Phantom." Raule was played by Patrick Wilson, however, not Williams. I have never heard of Patrick Williams. That was an honest mistake, but if anyone wants to find more information about him, you won't have any luck using that name.
  • blah on January 6, 2005 at 10:37 AM
    everyone says "glamour," not just brits. maybe "glamor" is the official spelling, but "glamour" is widely accepted as correct.
  • broadwaygeek on January 6, 2005 at 6:08 PM
    Ahhhh!!!It was AWESOME!!!!!!I'm going to see it again!...and again...and again...
  • Just a little plot hole on January 7, 2005 at 7:36 AM
    Hey, wasn't the original point of this movie for the woman character to see the inner beauty of the Phantom? This was possible in the original because the Phantom was actually deformed, but in this movie it looks as if he's just another hollywood pretty face.
  • phantom dork (View Email) on January 8, 2005 at 4:35 PM
    i have seen the movie, and i thought that your review was quite excellent. being a huge fan of the stage show, i too was quite pleased. but my one nit-pick was that the phantom himself was too "hollywood", and i sort of disagree with you about emmy rossum. i think she's very beautiful and looks like christine, but her singing voice is sort of inadequate. however, it's your opinion, so each to his/her own i suppose. anyway, keep up your washington post quality reviews! =)
  • yay on January 9, 2005 at 12:15 AM
    did anyone else think that patrick wilson looked JUST like a disney prince, except in 3d? he even had a white horse...

    gerard butler was a very cool phantom--his voice definitely wasn't very angelic, but he sounded angry and emotional and i guess that suits the part even better. everybody should go see it!!!
  • Anonymous on January 9, 2005 at 9:29 AM
    Hey guys, great review!
    I saw the movie last night, and I was blown away by the music and cinematography. Does actress Emily Rossum actually sing for the movie, or is she lipsyncing to someone else's voice? I liked Butler's singing voice; as you said, I think its rough quality added to his character.
    Although the movie was a bit cheesey and over-the-top at some points -- as I guess happens when a musical is adapted to film -- I was really moved by the story and its triangles of love.

    Good job!
  • Anonymous on January 9, 2005 at 4:17 PM
    Emmy Rossum does sing all her own stuff. which i think is really impressive!
  • broadway junky on January 10, 2005 at 10:33 AM
    It is impressive that Emmy Rossoum sings all her own stuff, but that is the way it should be. I think it's cheap to have someone else sing for an actess in a musical when there are plenty of great actresses on Broadway right now, who can do both. I thought that Rossum sounded a bit weak, but I was impressed with her acting. I love Patrick Wilson's voice, but I found his charactar a bit wimpy. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the film, and plan to see it multiple times because it is wicked awsome!
  • Sara on January 12, 2005 at 9:57 PM
    I think that Rossum had a weak voice. Raoul and the Phantom had awesome voices. rossum has the look of christine but she had one look or 2 looks during the entire movie and at times it made the movie drag.

  • . on January 29, 2005 at 8:12 PM
    The movie was really terrible. The acting and singing were especially disappointing.
  • Dolphingirl on May 27, 2005 at 12:16 PM
    I just recently saw the movie, and I cannot wait to see it again. I also can't wait to see it on Broadway. Emmy Rossum is perfect as Christine and Gerard Butler was exceptional as the Phantom.
  • VSoprano on June 17, 2005 at 11:04 PM
    I thought that the movie was beautifully put together. All of the acting was pretty much flawless, being that I am a soprano I thought that Emmy did a pretty good job, but she was too soft, the men did alright by me. I watch this movie like everyday...all of it is beautiful.
  • pinksader (View Email) on July 24, 2005 at 4:38 PM
    I loved it and i am so glad that they sing there own songs!!!!!
  • Suzanne (View Email) on August 17, 2005 at 2:19 AM
    Is Emmy Rossum actually a REAL singer or does somebody else sings for her??
  • Jalaina Partida (View Email) on December 27, 2005 at 10:53 PM
    Dear Emmy Rossum & Gerard Butler,
    sorry to be bothering like all the rest of your fans but, this might sound abit strange,but for some reason, people just happen to say that this very movie has somehow made me be attached to it. I believe them , I watch this movie over and over again. Sadly, I even wrote the lyrics on paper and now have every word exactly in my mind. And still i wonder, since Christine dies at the end two tears ago(1917(died)-(phantom alive still)1919), ofcourse at the end you see Christine leaving with Raoul, but does it mean she stayed with him forever? Well, come on, you never know if she felt sorry & still had feelings for the phantom, and could have left Raoul and went with the Phantom!? Please e-mail me back , so i may recieve an answer.
    Jalaina Seline Partida
  • eric (View Email) on March 16, 2006 at 10:05 AM
    doeas some one die in the opera ??????????
  • SterLing Simpson (View Email) on May 8, 2006 at 9:05 PM
    I am so sad i hadnt watched the movie till a month ago. AWESOME
  • Helen Christimarie (View Email) on December 30, 2006 at 5:58 PM
    I saw this movie when it first came out with a friend, and my sister just bought it for me, for Christmas. I love this movie! I love the theater. I just have one question. At the end of the movie does Christine favor the phantom over Rhaoul? I mean even at the end, and the phantom goes to the cemetry to Christine's grave; he puts his music box there and he also sees the engagement ring on the rose with the black ribbon. What does truely symbolize? Please email me back so I can have a definite answer to my mind when I watch the movie again. =) Much Gratitude.
  • Kaila (View Email) on March 23, 2007 at 8:41 AM
    I love Phantom of the Opera it is my favortie musical in the world
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