By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –
Gaston Leroux wrote one of the most beloved French novels of all time. Andrew Lloyd Webber adapted that novel into one of the greatest Broadway musicals the world has ever known. The film version of that famous stage show was… okay (for the most part). Even though The Phantom of the Opera is a classic, the 2004 musical film could have done better. It might have the glamour of 19th century France, but it ultimately is a somewhat mediocre Broadway film adaptation.
Since this is both a musical and a period drama, the overall design of the film is “phantastic” (pun intended). This film definitely deserved its Academy Award nominations in the “Best Art Direction” and “Best Cinematography” even though The Aviator swept the craft categories during that same year. The Paris Opera House was recreated with a meticulous attention to detail that is simply too hard to ignore. Even the catacombs beneath the Opera House were hauntingly beautiful. The cinematography has a bit on an enchanting quality to it because it makes audiences feel like Christine Daaé when she was under the Phantom’s hypnotic spell. Indeed, audiences should be prepared to lose a connection with reality for quite some time as they listen to “The Angel of Music” while succumbing to the power of “The Music of the Night.”
Even though this film is very lavish, such beauty is very superficial. One of the main problems is the cast. As a producer of this film, Andrew Lloyd Webber told the director Joel Schumacher that the stars must be unknown. That might not have been the best move when it comes to filmmaking because this film had a somewhat lukewarm box office performance during the 2004 holiday season. Casting the unknown actors Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson might have been the downfall for this film simply because general audiences did not know who they were. Anne Hathaway almost landed the leading role, but she was under contract with Disney for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Maybe well-known actors could have saved this film from turmoil both artistically and financially.
The Phantom of the Opera was made during the beginning of Hollywood’s return to the movie musical in the early 2000s. Moulin Rouge! (2001) was a sensational Best Picture nominee, and Chicago (2002) was a triumphant Best Picture winner. Unfortunately, The Phantom of the Opera underperformed even though it is based on one of the most beloved Broadway musicals of all time. This film might have been a misstep in Hollywood’s attempt to bring back the musical, but it will always remain a (somewhat) pleasant experience for audiences willing to be seduced by the titular “Phantom of the Opera.”
The Phantom of the Opera (2004) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Christine Daae refers to “The Phantom of the Opera” as “The Angel of Music”
Take a Drink: every time the Phantom does anything devious
Take a Drink: every time the film switches back and forth between time periods (which include black-and-white to color transitions as well)
Drink a Shot: for every mask (including the Phantom’s mask and the ones during the “Masquerade” sequence)