Movie Wednesday: The Phantom of the Opera
by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum
Christine Daaé is an orphaned chorus girl living in the ballet dormitories of the Opera Populaire. After a mishap in rehearsal, the reigning prima donna storms out, declaring that she will not perform that night, and Christine is called upon to replace the temperamental diva amidst anxiety that the accident was the work of “the opera ghost.” The performance is an outstanding success for Christine, who has been taking voice lessons from a mysterious “Angel of Music.” Afterwards she is reunited with her childhood sweetheart and the new patron of the opera house, the handsome Raoul, but before Raoul can take Christine for a romantic outing, she is spirited away by the Angel of Music. Down beneath the opera house, Christine must confront the identity of the man behind her masked angel as she begins to suspect that the phantom haunting the Opera Populaire may not be so spectral after all.
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The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical based on the novel by Gaston Leroux (originally serialized from 1909 to 1910), opened on the West End in 1986. One of the most successful works of musical theatre to this day, and the longest running Broadway show, it was adapted into a film in 2004, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson as the ill-fated love triangle at the center of this extravagent Gothic Romance.
Famously, Lloyd Webber first entertained the idea of turning Leroux’s novel into a musical one afternoon when he happened to pick up the book at a shop to read. Although Lloyd Webber felt that the classic novel, which has inspired countless adaptations and derivative works, was a “confused” book, he also thought that it could be turned into a successful musical if the story were refocused into a high romance.
The stage musical opened to critical acclaim and became a phenomenon almost overnight. Talk of adapting the stage show to screen began in the late ’80s when the production went to Broadway, but did not come to fruition until the early ’00s.
With lavish sets and costumes meant to create a sense of “heightened reality,” with Lloyd Webber’s iconic score played on a 105 piece orchestra, the 2004 film is a feast for the senses. But at its core the story still remains one that asks the audience to ponder deep questions such as the line between intense love and obsession, as well as social prejudice against those who are different.
- Do you think the Phantom loves Christine or is he simply unhealthily obsessed? Explain your answer.
- At the end of the story, Christine returns the Phantom’s ring and departs with Raoul. Do you think Christine made the right choice? How would the story change if she made a different decision?
- Christine is an orphan and feels the loss of her father strongly. Do you think her lack of parental figures makes her particularly vulnerable to the Phantom’s manipulations? Explain your answer
- Due to his deformity, the Phantom has faced extreme social prejudice and abuse which has caused him to become violent. He blames his deformity for Christine being unable to love him, but Christine says that the “true distortion” is in his soul. What do you think the story may be trying to say about social stigmas and the impact they can have on a person?
- What is your favorite song in the musical and why?
25th Anniversary production of the stage musical starring Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, and Hadley Fraser.
Official Phantom of the Opera YouTube channel – Behind the scenes of the stage productions, trailers, and more