I am, by no reasonable means of consideration, to be considered a “fan” of The Phantom of the Opera. That is, I am not fanatic about it. I have not even looked up the book, let alone read it. I have seen the stage performance only once, at Gammage, and while I liked it, I did not become enamoured with it or attempt to see it again. I didn’t even buy the soundtrack or look up the lyrics.
Yet when I saw the first trailer for this movie version of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s play, I became very interested in watching it. So tonight, the first night it has been publicly available to watch, I went to see it on the biggest screen in Arizona (outside of an IMAX) with the best sound system, the Cine Capri, with my two sisters.
I think age and experience and … where one is in one’s life can greatly impact what one sees in a work of such complexities. And this viewing of it was significantly different to me today than it was on stage years ago; there are elements of the story I understand differently, characters I see in new lights, the whole plot and the various motivations seem especially interesting to me. It was a whole new experience.
Which had little to do with its transition to film; had I seen it again on the stage at this stage in my life, I would very likely have seen the same things unfold before me. Which DOES say a lot about the film; it is, as far as I could tell – from my memory and the sounds of an audience that was clearly largely fanatics – a good adaptation of the stage play. There are some dramatic elements, the chandelier especially, that are completely different in the theatre than they are on the screen, but there was also a lot more visible on the faces of the performers than I can see from the audience of a stage performance – well, at least with the seats I can afford.
So… would I recommend this film? Probably. Know it is a musical, a period piece, a complex, dramatic story, and that at times several characters will sing totally different lyrics over each other, preventing any from being heard clearly. Actually, I had a heck of a time with a lot of the lyrics, but I think that has to do with my own hearing loss and tinitis more than a failure of the film. Frankly, a deaf person could follow this movie pretty easily; it is extensively visual. The visuals are stunning. With the exception of a few moments of bad lip syncing here and there, the performances were outstanding.
If you already like Phantom, I think you’ll like this version. If you like dramatic, decadent musicals, I think you’ll like this film. If you like period pieces with complex interwoven dramas and unreconcilable love, I think you’ll like Phantom. If all that I’ve said gives you the idea you wouldn’t like Phantom, don’t go watch it.
And there you go. I should be in bed.