The Phantom of the Opera (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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The Phantom of the Opera (Sous-titres fran?ais) [I
Trading tragic romance for Faustian malevolence, the 1989 version of The Phantom of the Opera is a surprisingly good example of '80s horror. It was dismissed as gory trash by most critics (no doubt because Kevin Yagher's gruesome makeup effects are effectively revolting), but horror buffs will be more forgiving of this lush production, which ranks well above average for horror films of its time. Set in Victorian London and shot mostly in Budapest, Hungary (for period architecture), the film reunites director Dwight Little (Halloween 4) with "Freddie Krueger" himself, Robert Englund, who had worked together on the Nightmare on Elm Street-based TV series Freddie's Nightmares. It's a good pairing, as Englund does some of his finest work as the Phantom, seen here as a horribly disfigured composer who patches his scarred and mangled face with stitched-on flesh, and makes a deal with the devil to be immortalized through his music. His muse, as always, is the lovely diva-to-be Christine, and the casting of Jill Schoelen gives the film added cachet among genre fans (who will recognize her from the 1987 cult hit The Stepfather). While bearing little resemblance to Lon Chaney's 1925 classic, this Phantom is actually more loyal to Gaston Leroux's original novel, and therefore deserves as much acknowledgement as any other version of the story. Certainly not a classic, but well worth a look. --Jeff Shannon
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But if we're going to review this film fairly, we're going to have to quit comparing Englund's Phantom to Freddy. They have very little in common other than they're both hamburger-faced, viciously kill people and that they're played by the same actor. But what about the Phantom's one-liners in this film? Well, the Phantom is a bitter misanthrope, so that is where his hateful sarcasm comes from. Freddy's humor comes from the fact that he's gleefully toying with his victims. That said, I think this is a very interesting take on the Phantom legend. The story goes something like this; a young singer auditions for an Opera using a piece of music by an unknown composer, who also happened to be a murderer. She's hit in the head when a stagehand drops a sandbag and in a dream state experiences her past life in the 19th century London Opera. (the setting is changed from Paris to London, possibly to give the Phantom more of a "Jack the Ripper" edge) The familiar story then begins. Christine is tutored by her "Angel", becomes a big star and the Phantom then does anything and kills anyone to ensure her continuing success. The biggest differences in this film (besides its London setting) from the original story are that rather than being a genius born with a horrible deformity, the Phantom is a man who sold his soul to the devil for the immortality of his music. The price happened to be his face. He also gains supernatural powers and immortality for himself, as long as his music remains. (a concept borrowed from The Picture of Dorian Gray and De Palmas Phantom of the Paradise) Also instead of wearing a mask, this Phantom skins his victims, patching up his own face, using crude proto-Plastic Surgery with their scraps. There is no chandelier fall in this film, but it is the first version since 1925 to include the masquerade party, where the Phantom shows up in his Red Death costume. There's plenty of blood and guts in this film as the Phantom slashes his way through his enemies. One great scene has him facing a group of would-be muggers in a dark alley. The imagery is overwhelmingly gothic. Very moody. The phantom's underground sanctum, riddled with candles and a pipe organ is classic. The film did badly, I think mainly because it came in the wake of Webber's extremely popular romantic stage musical. Everyone had their idea of what a Phantom film should be, and this just wasn't it. This Phantom was too evil to pity, and he wasn't very romantic. But when you look at the movie objectively, it's pretty good. Much better than most horror films in the 80's. And next to Freddy, Eric Destler-The Phantom is one of Robert Englunds best performances. He's absolutely wonderful. He makes him a very complex character. On one hand he's a very sensitive, brilliant artist with a kind of nobility to him. On the other hand, he's an almost diabolical character. Evil and power-mad. Englund plays this out very well. As I said there are problems. Some things are never properly explained. How the Phantom retains his reign of terror over the Opera isn't fully explored. How did the Phantom go from being a superstitious "theater tradition" to a legend about a man who sold his soul to the devil for music? How did Christine know the words to the Phantom's music? Why didn't she seem surprised at all when her "Angel" turned out to be a recluse living underground? Anyway, I'm nit-picking. Over all a very enjoyable film and a must see for Robert Englund fans.
Of all the phantom films I have seen in my eleven years of being a Phantom phan (not counting the yet to be released 2004 Phantom movie based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical) this is my favorite movie version of all Phantom movies.
Some may balk at the changes to the story from the original novel, and others may be shocked at the gore and violence; and while this movie does reek of many cliches that many 80's horror films tend to (time travel, the occasional bad costume, and emotionless acting by some characters) there are still enough qualities to make this movie worth seeing.
Englund positively shines in his performance. I have heard many people simply pass this off as another "Freddy-esque" movie because of the makeup, but the similarities between Englund's most notorious screen character and the Phantom stops there. Englund's Phantom is enigmatic and horrifying, delightfully sarcastic and brooding, sweet at one moment and the murderously violent the next - in this he captures the heart of the original Phantom from Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel, despite what others might say. It is also the only film to date (at the time of this review) with the ever famous graveyard scene.
Englund's makeup also deserves props - this is the only version so far that has given any attempt to make the Phantom noseless as he was intended to be in the novel.
Misha Segal's score lends a haunting tone that weaves throughout the film, and mixed with the dramatic settings - the elaborate stage, the Phantom's lair strewn thick with candles - makes this film a definite must-see for anyone who loves Phantom or appreciates dark eye candy.
While some of the film is laughable and unbelievable, the viewer must admit that even the terrifyingly unrealistic parts are, at the very least, creative. Turkish bathhouses and white towels will never look quite the same after seeing this movie.
This movie starts out in modern (1989) New York. Theater student Christine Day (Jill Schoelen) meets her friend Meg (Molly Shannon) at the library because she's found a 'new' music piece that is sure to win Christine the lead in a musical she's auditioning for. As Christine reads the music, it starts to bleed, an omen of what's to happen. At the audition the next day, just as she finishes the piece, a sand bag falls, nearly hitting her, and crashing into a mirror behind her. Suddenly, she is transported back into 19th century England, where she is an understudy to the London Opera's star Diva, Carlotta, who is jealous of Christine's talent. She also doesn't remember being from the future. Christine remains unphased by Carlotta and the fallen sand bag (which also happened in this time period). She is anxious to meet her music coach, the mysterious "Angel of Music" (Robert Englund) that she believes was sent by her father. The "Angel" is really Erik Dessler, a disfigured playwrite who sold his soul to the devil, Faust style. He has fallen in love with her, and is very protective of her. He begins to kill anyone who is in the way of Christine's career. First, he kills Joseph, a stage hand who dropped the sand bag that nearly killed Christine. Then there is the opera critic who gives her a bad review because the owner of the Opera has bribed him. His next victim is Carlotta, during the masquerade ball. Finally, Christine and her fiance Raoul get wise to the fact that her "Angel" is really a psycho, and take the police to the catacombs under the opera house to search for and arrest The Phantom. This culminates in a scene in which Christine "kills" the phantom by trying to destroy his music, and then "disappears" herself, only to find herself back in the present, thinkintg the whole thing a nightmare induced by the fallen sand bag. She is given the lead roll by the producer himself, who invites her out to dinner. When they stop at his apartment, the producer goes to "change", leaving Christine alone. The producer realizes that his face is falling apart and he needs a new one. Christine sees his studio and goes to see what he is working on. The music that comes from the computer turns out to be a completed version of The Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant! When her reappears, all pretenses are dropped. Erik had returned for Christine, as she had promissed (in her past life) to be his bride. In horror, she rips his face off, and takes all his music. On the street, she rips is all up and throws it into the gutter, where she can hear The Phantom screaming in agony, and we think that he is finally dead.
The most haunting image in this film is probably the final scene, just after Christine has destroyed The Phantom's music. As she's walking down an alley past a violinist, he starts to play "Don Juan Triumphant", and we're left to wonder if the Phantom is really dead, and if Christine is to be haunted for all time by him.
This is a fantastic movie. It's one of the few horror films, made after the black-and-white days, that has ever succeeded in actually scaring me. It's a definate must-see for any "Phantom" fans. It's also probably the only film to portray The Phantom exclusively as a villan. Robert Englund is amazing as the Phantom, both as a cowering musician and then as a menacing murderer.
I give this movie 5 stars.
As for Christine rejecting the 'Phantom'? In this version, I think it's just to add to the effect. But it all goes back to that saying that ultimately you WILL give the devil his due. Basis of a lot of saying, such as, "If you want to dance, you'll have to pay the piper." ...And so much more....
Just watch it, and see the Phantom's own regret (terrifically played,) that he sold his soul to the devil for eternal existence of his music - at this price of love... Yes, he is eternal and alive - to regret it, having fallen in love with Christine.
For those Vampire lovers? Just watch the way the 'Phantom' moves and makes his decisions on tho live, and who dies, and when... There's just a bare touch of that in there too...