PG-13 for brief violent images
Dec. 22, 2004
Drama, Musical/Performing Arts, Suspense/Horror
Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick
Wilson, Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson
Andrew Lloyd Webber
BASED ON THE NOVEL BY:
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The Phantom of the Opera
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.
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
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
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
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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
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