The Phantom of the Opera is a 2004 British film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. The film is directed by Joel Schumacher, with it also produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber. It stars Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum as Christine Daaé, as well as Patrick Wilson as Raoul, Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry, and Minnie Driver as Carlotta Giudicelli. (Running Time: 143 minutes)(Rated PG-13 for brief violent images)
I really wish I had seen the Broadway version of the Phantom before the movie. I would wager my love for the music would have skyrocketed faster than with the movie soundtrack. I had never had any contact with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals until I saw this movie adaption–which is rather good! Just up front: I love the music, it is very hard to touch something this powerful.
There had been speculated rumors of a movie adaption of The Phantom of the Opera for years, but Webber did little confirming. There were several attempts in the 1990s, but with no success. Eventually director Joel Schumacher joined with Webber and they agreed by hook or by crook they would make a movie-musical.
The cast is lined with some familiar faces, but with the two leads being relatively unfamiliar. Emmy Rossum was only sixteen/seventeen when the film was made, but has an absolute stellar singing voice. Perfect Christine! And Gerard Butler, who apparently never had any professional voice coaching or lessons prior to this film, did a hugely satisfying part with The Phantom. He has an outstanding voice! Definitely a lucky find for Schumacher and Webber.
Naturally, the music drives the film. The story is nothing outlandishly new or original, but the visuals aid the songs and the actors. Since I am not a Schumacher fan, I am grateful that his flamboyant style did not get in the way of this picture–and when it did, it seemed appropriate enough. The images had to have some flare and pop on the screen, much like the stage would be set. The mood was consistent and did not distract, so I give a respectful salute to the filmmakers for that.
One fault I have with the film is the choppy editing. Okay, so it is not that obvious, and I look too hard for it–but there are a couple of shots I would have extended/shortened, switched, and or reversed. It is not the editor’s fault, I am just sharing my personal thoughts on the matter. There are only a couple of instances throughout the film. Barely noticeable.
The film was made with a healthy budget of $70, and took in over $154 million over the 2004 Holidays and the New Year. Not bad at all! And when the awards season came around, it was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Song, “Learn to be Lonely” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart.
Oh, a good 4 out of 7 stars. It is a darn good musical, and is a loyal adaption, from what I hear and read, so you may want to pick it out and put it in the ol’ DVD player when you are feeling “The Music of the Night”.