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on November 3, 2003
This collector's edition provided my first opportunity to see the original 1925 release version. Wow! I had no idea how badly Universal mutilated the film for the 1929 sound re-issue - the version we're all familiar with! Most of the annoying continuity problems and other flaws I had assumed were caused by all the post-production tinkering Phantom went through before its general release were apparently inflicted on the film at the time of the re-issue. The 1925 version follows the novel more closely, scenes flow together more naturally, the characters' motivations are far more believable - heck, even the unmasking scene works better! Despite the less-than pristine visual quality of the source material, the 1925 version in this collection is by far the superior film.
That said, it was still a treat (in a campy kind of way) hearing the original sound track with the 1929 version, and the extra features are plentiful and worthwhile. The Ultimate Edition belongs in every Chaney/Phantom fan's collection.
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on November 12, 2001
I viewing a copy of "The Phantom of the Opera," I chose the Kino version which had part of the masque colorized. The edition also had the original trailer and an interview with an editor talking about the film. Although I did not find that specific version here, the information I learned helped me to appreciate any edition.
First, this movie does not end like the book. The film was to be extravagant and the entire opera house was built by the studio. Because of this extravagance, the studio felt that the movie should have a more dramatic ending. From the interview, I learned that they filmed many different endings and you will see the one they chose. The chase scene was directed by a director of westerns since he knew how to direct horses. The final scene also has a bit of improv by Lon Chaney which really seems to work.
This leads me to more on Lon Chaney. Even with this make-up on and no dialogue (it is a silent movie), he has no problem is showing you all the emotions that his character goes through. It is not just a monster terrorizing the people of the opera, but is a who really can not help himself. Even the simplest of gestures speaks volumes from Chaney.
Without sound and buried in makeup, Chaney still presents us with a great movie. Even though it is a silent film, you will have no trouble in getting involved in this film.
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on April 8, 2004
I assume that just about anyone reading this review is familiar with Chaney's Phantom of the Opera, so I intend to concentrate on the particular aspects of this release rather than on performances and/or story, since such reviews are the ones I personally find most helpful when doing resesarch.
This print is the version of the film prepared for re-release in 1929 (the film was originally released in 1925). The ballet and opera sequences were reshot and the entire film was re-edited; I believe it's shorter than the original release. This print isn't perfect (this is, after all, a VERY old film), but it's in astonishingly good shape, has been gorgeously remastered by David Shepard, and is a pleasure to watch. It has been remastered to its correct running speed of 20 frames/second, so there's none of the hurky-jerky movement that's often found in public domain issues of silents. The film is tinted according to Universal's original specs, and the Bal Masque sequence appears in its original two-strip Technicolor aspect. The digital stereo score, written by Gabriel Thibaudoux, is entirely appropriate to the film, although one wonders what the original score was like.
An informative essay by Chaney scholar Michael F. Blake is included and there are a few nice extras consisting mainly of shots from the production of the film; the re-release trailer is also included, although it lacks music and doesn't appear to have been remastered.
I'm very pleased with this disk. I can't compare it to the two-disk set released by Milestone because I don't own it yet. I seem to recall reading reviews to the effect that one can't fast forward, pause, or reverse the Milestone set (this would drive me insane)--such isn't the case here. Chapters are easily accessible, and the film opens with the "Lantern Man," which I seem to recall reading isn't the case with the Milestone set. There's no evidence of the "ghosting" mentioned in reviews of the Milestone set; in fact, the print is exceptionally clear with only some of the "underground" scenes prior to the unmasking showing serious evidence of age. The film itself is captivating and it bears mentioning that Chaney's performance is poetry in motion--it's impossible not to watch him, even when he appears only in shadow. I can't imagine anyone's being dissatisfied with this disk--its only drawback is its cheesy snap case. Highest recommendation--my hunch is that it hasn't been superceded by the Milestone release.
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on October 22, 2003
For starters, I agree with all the positive things said about this 2-disc set.
Unfortunately, there a couple of things about the discs that just spoiled the whole experience for me and may do so with you.
First, there is a "motion blur" or "ghosting" artifact that runs throughout the 1929/30 restoration. It looks similar to what a transfer from PAL video format to NTSC video format looks like only more exaggerated (images appear to be overlapped or double--sometimes triple--exposed). During the unmasking, Chaney's face is unnecessarily blurred, even when using freeze frame and stepping through the scene frame by frame.
Milestone has acknowledged the "ghosting", attributing it to adjusting the frame rate of the film during transfer from video master to video master. Incidentally, the original video master was in PAL format and was converted to NTSC for US, but Milestone claims PAL to NTSC was not the cause. Since they performed the additional restoration/picture cleaning on the overly "ghosted" transfer, it became a trade-off as to whether to present the cleaned up version or the "unghosted" version. Why such extensive restoration was done to a video master with excessive motion blur is beyond me.
For some folks, this will be a minor thing. For others, it will be very distracting and cast a dark cloud over what looks like to be the cleanest 'print' of this movie in existence. I will be keeping the other Image DVD edition with the David Shepherd restoration.
Secondly, for the special features, the pause, fast forward, and reverse functions have been disabled. This can be a bit of a nuisance. For example, there is a 21 minute "restored version" of the films' original premiere utilizing stills and expository text. This I was excited about. However, unless you are a speed reader, you won't be able to read everything in one viewing. You can't pause it, or "rewind" to read what you missed. It is like trying to enjoy a book (both text and pictures) with someone else turning the pages for you. If you miss something, you have to start over from page one and go through again.
Again, some of you won't care about the motion blur one iota. Others will feel as I do: This disc should've been a contender but instead, it feels like a missed opportunity.
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on October 15, 2003
This 2 disc-set of milestone by far not only the best edition for the phantom of the opera,but also the finest restoration I have ever seen in my life for a movie. First,the 1929 version-Allow me to say it's tinting is great,the sharpness of the picture is by far the best I've ever seen,the orchestral score by carl davis makes you thrilled enough,and,of course-the 1929 soundtrack,makes this movie much more alive then ever.I admire the phantom's shdow voice quite much.the opera sequences are perfect,among everything else.I am so relieved now that I could finally hear the 1929 surviving soundtrack,he really is worth all the set.And as for the movie,allow me to say,best silent horror movie ever made,from the very reason that it's a horror film that also persents the hero not only as an eager beast,thanks to Lon Chnaey,the god of horror films ever,who knew how to bring life and soul to erik.
The 1925 version,allow me to say,shocked me.It was so fabolous!
There were such a wroth-watching scenes that it's a shame they were removed in 1929.This version,however,is closet to the book,has more plot,and looks much more intresting.Every phantom fan must have the 1925 original version.that is to say.
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on December 20, 2002
There's a couple reviews on here that slam Image Entertainment for its DVD presentation of this Lon Chaney classic, particularly a harsh review entitled "I hate this Image DVD." I believe the reviewers who gave it a thumbs down must actually be the producers of inferior DVD/VHSeditions because the special collector's version I now own is spectacuar. Allow me to rebut the negative criticisms.1. I like the tints. Ths IS the way the movie was originally exhibited and it certainly enhances the film.2. The Thibaudoux score doesn't stop at all like some reviewers would make you believe. It is continuous throughtout the film and most deinitely increases the suspense. It's a wonderful composition and works great with the movie.3. One reviewer complained that the black bars on each side of the screen makes him feel like he's watching the movie through a saloon door. Not the case for me. After the first minute, I didn't even realize the bars were there. Just like when I watch a widescreen movie, the black bars in this case don't bother me at all. At least I know I'm seeing the complete image.4. The action flows smoothly and DOES NOT "ooze" aross the screen like molasses in January. I think they person who said that ought to stick with Keystone Kops flicks if that's what he or she is looking for.Overall, I enjoyed this DVD presentation of Phantom tremendously and highly recommend it. The Image version is, by far, the best on the market.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 18, 2015
This is for the new(2015) Kino two disc edition of the Phantom of the Opera.Kino of course issues nothing but quality releases and should be commended for another fine job here with the Phantom.
The story is by now a well known one.The Paris Opera House sits over the multi-layered catacombs of passages long closed,but with their own sinister histories.The House itself is being sold to new owners who,after sale,hear of its' possible association with a phantom ghost that frequents its floors.The opera's main contralto has received lettered threats from this phantom not to sing in its upcoming show,but to let a new up and comer do so,Christine Daee'. She does so, to much acclaim and rebukes her boyfriends pleas to marry him,telling him she must stay true to her art.However what he does not realize is that she has been getting help from a mysterious cloaked figure behind the scenes,and it is he that has propelled her career to the heights it is now.
The Phantom one day decides it is time that Christine meet him in person,and he does so by telling her to walk into her dressing room mirror.Once through she finds herself in the catacombs and facing a cloaked but masked figure.She is repelled by his visage but he pleads with her not to judge her by his appearance but by his love for her and her career.He takes her far below the Opera House to his lair.There he keeps her, warning her not to touch his mask.When she wakes the next day she finds him playing the organ.She listens but cannot control her urge to see what is under the mask.When she lifts it he stands and turns.She is horrified,falls to the floor and can barely speak.After much pleading the Phantom eventually relents and allows her to return to the Opera House above.But he warns that she must never see her boyfriend again.
Once back above Christine sends for her boyfriend and asks him to rescue her from the Phantom's grip.During a grand ball at the Opera House the Phantom appears dressed in a bright red cape and wearing the mask of death.He spies the two together and leaves.Later on the Opera roof the two talk and agree to leave after that night's performance.However the Phantom is above listening and will kibosh the plan.
Acting proactively,he snatches her during the performance after people's attention are focused on the huge chandelier which has fallen into the stunned crowd below(his doing of course).He takes her back down to his lair and fends off attempts by would be rescuers.One of them is her boyfriend,whom she saves by agreeing to stay with the Phantom forever.However a frenzied mob also in pursuit of the girl and her captor rush his lair and he is forced to flee with Christine in a carriage above.During his getaway Christine is thrown free and the carriage goes but a little further until a wheel comes loose and the Phantom is at the mercy of the crowd.He at first keeps them at bay with a clutched hand,feigning that he has an explosive in it.When he reveals an empty hand,laughing madly,the crowd pounces on him,works him over and throws his apparently lifeless body into the Seine river.
It is certainly a compelling story.The acting however can appear to be a bit too melodramatic at times and tends to interfere with the mood.Chaney,as always,is the center the movie pivots on and he is marvelous to behold.His costume changes and facial effects are astonishing even today,as was his acting.Just simple hand gestures signified so much when Chaney was in control.
This new two disc set includes really THREE versions of the Phantom.The 1929 re-release in a 20-fps or 24 fps,format.For me the 20 fps mimicked a more natural movement by all concerned ,so I found it the more pleasing of the two.It also includes the original 1925 version which really is the ONE to watch, as the re-release was edited slightly differently than the original, with the original much more explanatory with its characters and their relationship to each other.Remember though , the famous Technicolour sequence can only be found in the 1929 release.
All the prints can at times be"rough"looking,so one must consider their ages when viewing these films.
Extras include excerpts from the 1930 Sound Version(sound on disc,with only part of the film extant),the original trailer,the original screenplay,an interview with the composer of the new music track and two travelogue films from 1925 Paris.
All in all a wonderful re-release by Kino of the original Phantom of the Opera.As the market stands right now,THIS is the version to own.There just are not any better versions of this film anywhere,and there probably will not be for years to come.Highly recommended.
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on September 30, 2003
Although marred by static direction and stilted acting, the 1925 silent film THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is known primarily for the memorable contribution by Lon Chaney as an actor and makeup artist. His moving portrayal of the disfigured escaped convict who haunts Paris Opera House is perhaps the sole reason to watch this film. And his talent as a makeup artist helped create one of the most indelible images in film history: the skull-like head of the phantom that conveys sadness, anger, and horror at the same time. This Region-1-only 2-disc DVD set from The Milestone Company includes two versions of this classic film: the 1925 version that was premiered in New York, and the 1929 re-edited silent version that is most often seen today. The DVD also contains excellent supplements that give us a good overview of the film's rather remarkable history.
The rarely seen 1925 New York premiere version included on this DVD is untinted, runs 107 minutes, and was transferred from the only surviving 16mm reduction print. Its video quality is understandably poor; sharpness and clarity are never satisfactory, and blemishes abound. There are some notable differences between this version and the shorter, 93-min, 1929 re-edited version. In the 1925 version, actors are introduced via their own title cards. There is no "Carlotta's mother" character. Carlotta is played by Virginia Pearson in both the opera and the dramatic scenes. The chandelier sequence is edited more competently and thus played out a little more effectively. There are more scenes in Christine's dressing room, so adequate suspense is built up before she meets the phantom. There is also one crucial scene in a garden that explains why Christine is so enamored to the mysterious voice she hears. In my opinion, the 1925 version is the superior version; it seems more complete and satisfying narratively than the edited 1929 version.
The 1929 edited silent version included on this DVD was transferred from a restored, re-tinted print made by the renowned film restoration company Photoplay Productions. This is the best-looking version of PHANTOM to date. It also looks much sharper and cleaner than the 1997 Image DVD. Both DVDs offer the speed-corrected 1929 version, but the '97 Image DVD opens with a shot of a man holding a lantern walking past the camera, while the Milestone DVD, curiously, omits this so-called "lantern man" shot and opens at the opera house. On both DVDs, the "Bal Masque" scene is shown in two-strip Technicolor, with the color on the Milestone disc looking a little more realistic. Also, in order to duplicate the original film as much as possible, some of the color scenes on the Milestone disc were actually digitally colored (such as the phantom's red cape at the roof of the opera house), because there is no existing color footage for them. On the '97 Image DVD, no digital coloring was used.
There was a "talkie" version of PHANTOM made in 1929, but unfortunately the print of that version was lost. The dialogs and sound effects recorded for that version, however, survived. To give the viewer a taste of the sound version, the Milestone DVD offers something interesting to accompany the 1929 silent version: a soundtrack composed of fragments of existing recordings of the sound version pieced together to fit the silent version as much as possible. The result is still far from being a "talkie" track. It has plenty of sound effects and spoken dialogs, but it has almost no synchronized talking. Inter-titles are still present (because this is still the silent version). There is, however, one opera sequence where the singing of actress Mary Fabian (who did her own singing) is perfectly synchronized with the picture, which is a wonder to watch. The DVD also includes audio-only supplements of recorded dialogs, which give us further glimpses of the talkie version -- and of its rather incompetent voice acting.
Also accompanying the 1929 version is a superb audio commentary by PHANTOM expert Scott MacQueen. He provides a wealth of information about the production history, the backgrounds of the cast and crew, the various versions of the film, the use of color, and the use of sound. He deplores the incompetence of director Rupert Julian, and emphasizes that the true auteurs of the film were Chaney and set designer Ben Carré. He points out that contemporary reviews indicate that the 1925 version contains Technicolor sequences in not only the Bal Masque scene, but also the opera sequences and the auditorium scenes (the extensive use of color must have been quite a spectacle for a silent film back then). He recounts in great details (while speaking at a pretty fast pace) how the various versions of PHANTOM survived over the years -- the existing 1925 version originated from the so-called "Show-at-home" 16mm versions which Universal made for private collectors in the 1930s, while the surviving 1929 version was obtained by a Jim Card at Universal in the 1950s, and the Technicolor sequences was obtained from a 1930 dye transfer copy by restorationist David Shepherd.
To add even more value to an already superb package, the Milestone DVD also includes still-frame reconstructions of the Los Angeles and San Francisco premiere versions of PHANTOM. These were the very first public showings of the film. The Los Angeles version ended not with a chase scene as in later versions, but with the phantom dying alone at his piano.
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on July 15, 2001
First off, this is one of my favorite movies. Years ago, the Blackhawk Films videotape was the first prerecorded tape I ever purchased. I also own two different LaserDiscs of this movie, and I now have the DVD.
Out of all of the movie versions, this one remains the closest to the original 1911 novel. In 1943, they changed things so that Enrique (Erik) gets disfigured by acid. In 1962, the love story between The Phantom and Christine isn't there. In 1982, all of the names were changed for a made for TV movie. In the 80s, there was also an OK animated, made-for-video version. And so on... There are 9 movie versions I know about. I've seen 8 of them. The 9th is a Mexican version that seems to be lost.
Most video releases are of the 1929 reissue of the movie. They added more musical segments, and I think they added a few bits of dialogue too. There appears to be no version of this with the sound in place. The man with the lantern walking around in the beginning is supposed to be giving a little prologue speech. That's why there are no printed titles for him. I don't think this affects the ability to understand the movie.
Now here's what annoyed me about this release. This DVD was released by Image using Blackhawk Films' print. My Image/Blackhawk Films LaserDisc included both the 1929 version (with the Gaylord Carter organ score) and a silent copy of the true 1925 movie on a second disc. The 1925 version doesn't have the man with the lantern at the beginning, and there is a garden scene with Raoul and Christine. It's also a little longer. The 1925 print exists and was used by this same pair of companies. I don't understand why they didn't use that. New music was used for this DVD so they could have just written it for the 1925 version. However, I feel that the 1925 version doesn't get used because it only seems to exist in 16mm. The 1929 edition still exists in 35mm so the image for the DVD can be better. ...but the 1925 edition could have been an "Extra" on the DVD like it was for the LaserDisc.
Except for the lack of the true 1925 version, I still find this to be a great DVD and would recommend it.
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on September 22, 2003
... THE ULTIMATE EDITION 2 DISC SET (Image/Milestone): WOW! I remember watching the restored Metropolis and wondered when someone would ever restore Phantom and Nosferatu as beautifully. Well, they're coming close. This isn't quite the restoration job of Metropolis, but damn, it's gotta be the absolute best that's available. As far as the three DVD's reviewed here, this by far is the best in clarity and dare I say, it's a gorgeous restoration worthy of the most jaded film buff's archive (all that's missing is MAGICIMAGE's Filmbook on the film as a companion piece). The film is tinted throughout, with the addition of the Handschiegl color process during the Apollo scene which I'd never seen before being a nice touch. Steve MacQueen's commentary provided some great insight into the movie's background. The optional score from the 1930 sound release was a welcome bonus track, being reedited to fit this "remix" of a film. Thusly, was the best viewing of this movie that I've ever had. The original 1925 version of the film is on disc two and is a bit murky, along the lines of the usual worn out print, but hell, you take what you can get and in this case I'll take it, having never seen THIS version of Phantom before. On my copy, despite the overall clarity of the restored movie ('29), I still noticed those trailing/blurred action lines thingies when a character was moving quickly. It may be a defect in my disc it may not, but everything else in the scenes (and this occured throught), stayed pretty clear, save for the fast movement. Someone told me that was part of the restoration, which I thought odd, but who knows,I don't see it occuring in the other copies. Hmmm. Outside of that, this is quite the package. If you are serious about having this classic in your film library, this is the best bet. Until someone manages to come up with ALL of the versions, New York, LA, SF Reissue etc all together, then this truly has got to be the ULTIMATE EDITION!
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