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Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera '

Movie Info

RATING:

PG-13 for brief violent images

RELEASE:

Dec. 22, 2004

GENRE:

Drama, Musical/Performing Arts, Suspense/Horror

STARRING:

Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson

DIRECTOR:

Joel Schumacher

WRITER/PRODUCER:

Andrew Lloyd Webber

BASED ON THE NOVEL BY:

Gaston Leroux

DISTRIBUTOR:

Warner Bros.

 

Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.

MOVIE REVIEW

The Phantom of the Opera

MovieGuide Magazine

CBN.com The Phantom of the Opera is the story of a disfigured, angry man who lives beneath a Paris opera house and terrorizes its cast and crew so that his student, a young woman named Christine, can have a chance to sing the lead part. The Phantom gets his way, but the acclaim that Christine receives from her singing brings the attention of Raoul, a rich, desirable young Vicomte. Their budding relationship pains the Phantom, who himself is in love with Christine.

As Christine and Raoul grow closer, the Phantom becomes increasingly bold in his strikes against the opera house. Christine must figure out who she can trust, but it might not matter if the Phantom succeeds in abducting her into his underground lair.

The Phantom of the Opera retains much of the bravado, spectacle and gorgeous, haunting melodies of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular Broadway show. Set in the late nineteenth century, the movie benefits from spectacular sets and costumes. Visually, the movie succeeds boldly. The acting, however, leaves something to be desired. Christine is a singing doll who stares wide-eyed through most of her scenes, and the Phantom engages in overacting that would make even a soap opera star blush.

Whether or not you like this movie will depend to a large degree on whether you already like the source material, or enjoy musical theater. Fans will most likely be pleased by this adaptation (though some may think the cast is too young and inexperienced). All of the famous elements from the play are present, and the spectacle is as grand as the Broadway show.

Gerard Butler in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera 'If you are not a fan of Broadway shows, however, you may be stupefied and wonder what the fuss is all about. You may think that the songs are too melodramatic. Or, you may think that the famous story of the Phantom of the Opera (a former circus freak who abducts a woman and, on a gondola, takes her to his Babylonian lair underneath an opera house) is just too bizarre.

It is important to note, however, that the basic story in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s libretto is a Christian allegory. Christine is a symbolic Christian character who, in the movie’s emotional climax, shows compassion, sympathy and kindness to the twisted Phantom. It is also her willingness to sacrifice herself that ultimately gets the Phantom to relent from his final deadly plan.

Regrettably, this Christian allegory is diluted because of antinomian elements and strong Romantic elements, in the sense popularized by French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. In Webber’s version of Gaston Leroux’s novel, society is cruel and pushes the Phantom to its fringes, so he must live underground. Individuals, such as Christine and the Phantom, are theoretically good and have to work to conquer the harsh structure of their social environment. The disturbing underbelly of this Romantic philosophy is exposed, however, when the Phantom becomes embittered toward the society that has ostracized him and begins lashing out in evil ways. Eventually, however, Christine’s display of undeserved kindness, or grace, changes the Phantom’s behavior at the very end.

Judged on its own merits, away from its iconic status on Broadway and in popular culture, this movie adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera is too melodramatic and bizarre to find a wide audience. Many film tricks intended to impress a Broadway-bred audience seem as if they were ripped from 1990s music videos. Furthermore, after the glitz of the opera house has worn off, the second half of the movie becomes muddled and boring at times. (This is also true of the original score, which also experiences a dramatic and musical lull before the last act.)

Phantom is for Broadway devotees, fans of the original opera, and perhaps some teenagers who have not yet been exposed to musical theater. The movie version also contains brief violent scenes.

Please address your comments to:

Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Warner Bros., Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
Website: www.movies.warnerbros.com


NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.

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