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Film / The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

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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. It was produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber and directed by Joel Schumacher. It stars Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum as Christine Daaé, Patrick Wilson as Raoul, Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry, and Minnie Driver as Carlotta Giudicelli.

Like the musical and novel, the film follows promising young ingenue soprano Christine as she is enthralled by a mysterious 'Angel of Music'. Unbeknownst to her, this 'angel' is also the deadly Phantom, a bitter man who resides in the opera house at which she works.

This adaptation provides examples of:

  • Abominable Auditorium: As with the musical, the film features examples of both the first and second type: in the intro, the Opera Populaire has been derelict for many years and is basically just waiting for the wrecking ball while the staff auction off old props for pennies. During the main body of the film, thirty years previously, the Opera is firmly under the thumb of the Phantom.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Gerard Butler's Phantom in the film version is rather less ugly than his stage counterparts, to the point that film critic Richard Roeper quipped "He's the Fashionably-Scarred Stud of the Opera."
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Normally just a harmless prankster, Joseph Buquet is a creepy drunkard in the film, who not only enjoys scaring the staff with his stories of the Ghost, but leers at the women of the opera and even tries to force one to kiss him, causing an angry Madame Giry to put his noose around his neck.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Raoul is a naval officer in the book, but is a cavalry officer in the film and shows off his fencing skills accordingly. He even leaves to get his sword once the Phantom shows up at the masquerade.
  • Adaptational Mundanity: Unlike the musical, it's clear that the Phantom has no special powers. His more supernatural feats are cut altogether, and other things are explained by showing how he does them (such as raising the gates in his lair by using a lever, or messing with Carlotta's throat spray to make her croak).
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • It's explained how Madame Giry came to know and unofficially 'work' for the Phantom; when she was a teenager and he was presumably around ten, she helped him escape from a travelling fair where he was abused and exhibited as a sideshow attraction, and hid him in the opera house.
    • Christine's backstory gets a little more development as well, showing how she came to the opera house as a young girl.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: This movie adds a scene where Raoul and the Phantom have a swordfight in the graveyard where Christine's father is buried. Raoul wins and is about to kill the Phantom... only to let him go when Christine asks him to spare his life, rather than taking him into custody, which was what he wanted to do by this point. In the original musical, there was a confrontation between Raoul and the Phantom in the graveyard, but it never got this violent; the Phantom was implied to be more interested in trying to scare Raoul off than kill him, and Raoul didn't try to capture the Phantom because he knew he'd have a better opportunity later during the performance of Don Juan Triumphant.
  • Age Cut: Raoul, Mdme. Giry, and both The Phantom and Christine.
  • Artistic License – History: In Real Life, Paris in late 1870 was under heavy siege by the Germans, whereas in the film there's nary a hint of the Franco-Prussian War. The real Palais Garnier, which the Opéra Populaire is based on, also hadn't been completed yet. (And, of course, has never been destroyed by a fire.)
  • Big Damn Kiss: Christine and Raoul towards the end of “All I Ask of You”, with a Twirl of Love. Much to the Phantom’s dismay.
    • Christine and The Phantom's kiss seems to go on for about five minutes. Good thing it's beautiful.
  • Call-Back: A small one: in the Phantom's lair at the end, Raoul has blood on his shirt in exactly the same place that the Phantom wounded him at the cemetery, as though the relatively fresh wound had reopened at some point in his struggle to get to Christine.
  • Canon Discontinuity: It would be impossible to make a film adaptation of Love Never Dies without breaking continuity with the movie, since it had established that Christine dies in 1918, with the implication that it was because of the flu pandemic or the war.
  • Casting Gag: Ramin Karimloo, who portrayed Raoul and the Phantom on West End did a cameo appearance as Christine's late father, making him the only actor to play 3 of Christine's loved ones.
  • Cock Fight: Raoul and the Phantom have a sword fight in the graveyard over Christine, replacing a scene in the stage show where the Phantom and Raoul duel verbally over her.
  • Color Motif: Red in the movie musical symbolizing undying love and all consuming obsession.
  • Dark Reprise: "Phantom's Notes II" gets really dark when it was combined with "Why So Silent?", where he's threatening everyone with a sword and revealing himself in person for the first time.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • In the musical, Madame Giry tells Raoul what she knows of the Phantom's past, including that he ended up imprisoned in a cage in a traveling fair. The film goes one step further, showing how she rescued him from said sideshow when they were both very young.
      • The expanded backstory also includes the fact that Erik killed the carnival owner as a young boy—granted, the man was badly abusing him (we see Erik being beaten, and when he gets to the opera house he's covered in bruises) and absolutely had it coming, but he's still driven to murder at a very young age.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: When the Phantom puts Christine to bed, she's wearing stockings. When she wakes up, they're missing. Continuity error or something more?
    • And it's more like "Did He or Didn't He?"—given Christine's unconscious/entranced state, if they did have sex, this can only be construed as rape. The original script leaves no doubt, as the Phantom is seen getting into bed with the unconscious Christine and the scene fading out as the song ends.
  • Dirty Old Man: Andre and Firmin ogle Meg and Christine when they first arrive, causing Madame Giry to pull them off to the side and make them watch the ballet from a distance.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The Phantom of the show (possibly) has at least some supernatural abilities, while the film is careful to show its audience how he carries out all his tricks and stunts.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: This time around, the Phantom sends the chandelier falling towards the stage once Christine unmasks him.
  • Flanderization: The Phantom has always been something of a Tragic Monster and may sometimes even be a sympathetic figure, but the film (to the point of Villain Decay) tend to exaggerate this aspect while simultaneously making everyone else unlikeable and downplaying the fact that, whatever else Erik may be, he is also a deeply disturbed and homicidal person.
    • The original version of Carlotta was part of a Technician Versus Performer comparison, with Carlotta having a marvelous instrument but no soul in her singing as opposed to the more passionate (if rather more erratic) Christine. This film simplifies that to Carlotta's voice being awful (or at least past its prime), to the point where opera staff are stuffing cotton in their ears when she prepares to sing (thus leading to Informed Flaw, as Margaret Preece's voice is one of the better ones in the film).
  • Framing Device: The movie goes from present-day to past several times.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Christine is in her opera costume when the Phantom takes her to his lair, but after a cut, we see her in a wedding dress. Presumably, he forced her to change into it.
    • In-universe as well: in the rehearsal for Hannibal, the dancers are performing with chains, suggesting that they are captives, in midriff-baring costumes.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: The film concludes with Raoul bringing the Phantom's music box to Christine's grave. Afterwards, he sees the Phantom's trademark red rose there as well, with Christine's ring around it.
  • Hall of Mirrors: A straight version of the trope appears in the film, when Raoul follows the Phantom down a trapdoor after "Why so Silent" and finds himself trapped in a mirror maze.
  • Hotter and Sexier: For starters, the ballerinas have their midriffs completely exposed, Meg's cleavage is prominently featured in her completely different Masquerade costume, and the Phantom himself makes several appearances in an open white shirt.
    • This trope is largely due to the choice to hire younger, prettier actors than are usually cast in the stage show (Gerard Butler especially). Emmy Rossum being only seventeen (having had her 17th birthday just three days before filming started) to Butler's thirty-five makes "Point of No Return" kind of... uncomfortable. However, considering that Christine is actually supposed to be 16-17, and the Phantom is roughly Madame Giry's age, one could argue that this discomfort is actually rather appropriate.
  • Informed Ability: While Emmy Rossum's singing isn't bad by any means, it's hard to imagine her version of Christine taking the Opera world by storm, especially since her voice is pretty quiet for a pre-microphone era.
  • Informed Deformity: While everybody treats the Phantom's disfigurement like it's as hideous as it is on the stage... it just looks like he has a bad rash or something. He certainly doesn't seem ugly enough to have spent much of his childhood in a freak show.
    • IMDb points out that in real 19th-century Europe, people with deformities at least as bad as the Phantom's were actually pretty common, so it's not realistic that his face would elicit that much shock and horror.
  • Informed Flaw: Carlotta is supposedly a talentless case of The Prima Donna; her assistants are shown listening to her singing with earplugs in. She's noted to be blown out of the water by Christine's talent. But in the actual film Carlotta's singing is significantly better than Christine's; even if you take Technician Versus Performer into account, they actually had to alter some songs from the stage version due to Emmy Rossum's inability to sing them properly. Carlotta does scoop a few times in her otherwise skilled performances, and it's called attention to, but Christine does as well, and no one points it out.
  • Insistent Terminology: Gilles André would like to point out that he is in the business of scrap metal, not junk.
  • Large Ham: Minnie Driver's Carlotta steals a lot of her scenes.
  • Male Gaze: During "Music of the Night," the camera treats us to several loving closeups of Christine's, ahem... attributes.
  • Manly Tears: Gerard Butler skillfully looks manly whilst simultaneously crying and wearing a frilly shirt.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Averted. The film makes it very clear that all the stunts he pulls are merely clever tricks, leaving the more supernatural stuff out altogether and explaining other things away by showing the Phantom pulling a lever to raise the gates, or messing with Carlotta's throat spray in order to make her croak.
  • Mooning: A stagehand does this to Carlotta as she storms out of the Opera House.
  • Movie Bonus Song: "No One Would Listen"/"Learn To Be Lonely". The first song is sung by the Phantom in a Deleted Scene, the second over the closing credits (though an instrumental version is also heard over the final scene at the cemetery.
  • Mythology Gag: The bit with the horse alludes to a similar scene in the novel and something that was intended for the musical had the mechanics worked.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: You have Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson with an American accent (although it's barely noticeable when they're singing), Simon Callow, Ciaran Hinds and Jennifer Ellison with an English accent, Gerard Butler with an English accent though he sometimes has a case of Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping during his singing, making his Scottish accent show off, Minnie Driver with an Italian accent since, after all, she's Carlotta, aaaand... Miranda Richardson with a French accent. The mix of American and English accents could be acceptable since we are after all in France, but the fact that Madame Giry seems to be the only person with a French accent breaks it all.
  • Not My Driver: The Phantom knocks out and replaces Christine's carriage man so that he can take her to the cemetery and try to abduct her again
  • Number of the Beast: The chandelier is item number 666 at the auction.
  • The Peeping Tom: During the opening sequence, Joseph Buquet can be seen spying on the dancers as they get dressed.
  • Product Placement: The "hero" version of the chandelier was sponsored by Swarovski Crystals. There's a scene with a Swarovski store window, which depicts the Swarovski swan logo. However, the logo at the time would have been a flower.
  • Progressively Prettier: The various movie adaptations provide the image for this trope. Lon Chaney has a freakishly deformed skull-head. Claude Rains has one side of his face badly scarred. Gerard Butler looks like he fell asleep in a tanning booth with the right side of his face up.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: The Phantom smashes two mirrors after Christine leaves him for good. When he reaches the third one, he destroys it to reveal an escape route.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Emmy Rossum playing Christine.
  • Road Trip Across the Street: The Phantom places Christine on the back of a horse and uses it to carry her the length of a short corridor before abandoning it again.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the movie, when Carlotta is on the verge of walking out (for the first time) and the new managers appeal to Lefevre on how to convince her to remain, his response, right down to tone and inflection, is very familiar from another ALW production: "Grovel--grovel, grovel!"
    • This could be unintentional but behind the conductor during "Think of Me", there's a woman dressed almost exactly like Cinderella in her ballgown.
  • Snow Means Love: As Raoul and Christine embrace on the Opera House Roof, it conveniently starts to snow.
  • Social Climber: André and Firmin. Before they took over the Opera House they made their business in "scrap metal" and bought the Opera primarily as a way to springboard into high society.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A dissonance not of mood but of fact: The lyrics of "Masquerade" are all about how colorful the costumes are (almost to the point of Sensory Abuse) but aside from Christine's pink dress and Erik's Red Death costume everyone's wearing black, white, and gold (here's the same segment in the 25th Anniversary concert for comparison).
    • This is the same director who is best known for the campiest and most colorful entries in a franchise that leans toward dark and gritty and he restrains himself at the least appropriate time!
  • Splash of Color: How the film segues from present to past, Christine and the Phantom's costumes in "Masquerade", and in the final scene, when Raoul spots one of the Phantom's trademark red roses on Christine's grave.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The mob that chases after Erik at the end of the film.
  • The Tragic Rose: The Phantom gives these to Christine throughout the movie, capping it off by laying his final one on her tombstone.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Raoul leaves the Opera House just after Christine does, yet arrives at the cemetery well after she does, despite clearly riding his horse at a fast pace.
  • Voodoo Shark: During "The Point of No Return", the Phantom's mask barely conceals more than his eyes and no deformity whatsoever is seen - even over the parts of his face which, when exposed later, are deformed. The filmmakers attempted to Hand Wave this by showing some makeup on the Phantom's dressing table. However, this raises an obvious question: if the Phantom can make himself look normal with makeup, why doesn't he do it more so that he can live a normal life?
  • Whole Costume Reference:
    • Emmy Rossum's costume in "Think Of Me" is practically an exact copy of that worn by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) in the famous portrait by Franz Winterhalter, right down to the hairstyle and the diamond stars in it. It doesn't hurt that Rossum is a dead ringer for the empress to begin with.
    • The Phantom's "Red Death" outfit in also appears to have been based on one of Napoleon Bonaparte's uniforms (though with a skull mask and a longer cloak added).
  • Wife Husbandry: Unfortunately this comes across more than a little in the film, where the Phantom watches over Christine from when she arrived at the opera house when she was a very young girl, and makes his move when she's still only sixteen. Plus, she originally thinks her 'Angel of Music' is her father, or at least his ghost. He's basically grooming her.


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The Phantom of the Opera

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 Fantome de l'Opera by Gaston Leroux. It was produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber and directed by Joel Schumacher. It stars Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum as Christine Daae, Patrick Wilson as Raoul, Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry, and Minnie Driver as Carlotta Giudicelli.

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