Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Phantom Menace

My mom, sister and I watched last year's film version of the Phantom of the Opera last night. They had both seen it before and loved it (as did a few other women I know). My reaction? Blah, blah and more blah. Aside from the handsomeness of the cast and the first rate set, costumes and cinematography, this movie stunk. I don't know if it's the movie's fault, or ALW's, or the novel's author (since I've never seen a stage version or read the book), but it was bad. Phantom had the most static, one-dimensional characters I've seen in a while and their lack of development in the film made it difficult for me to be engaged in it.

There was no explanation of motivation in the film. OK, so the Phantom is disfiguired and he's attacking society because society has rejected him. But Madame Giry risked her life saving him when he was a boy and has continued to show a great deal of compassion toward him. Why that didn't change his heart is not explained. And what about her? What does she get out of protecting him all these years? Does she love him? Is it simple charity?

And why is the Phantom obsessed with Christine? Is it a Pygmalion-type thing where he's fallen in love with his own creation? Or is it because he thinks she's so good that she can be the one to "save" him? If that's the case, if he believes she is so good, why does he bother with the "Angel of Music" thing? Why did he choose her to become his muse and not one of the other chorus girls? I guess it was because she was orphaned and therefore easy to prey on, but even that really isn't explained.

And why does she kiss him in the end and why does he accept that as a sign of love rather than pity? Obviously, she felt compassion toward him and called him a pitiable creature or some such thing, but certainly there's some other way to show that other than passionately kissing a man who's killed a number of people and terrorized dozens of others - all in front of her imprisoned fiance. Does she really have affection for him because maybe he's some sort of father figure to her? Does he take her kiss as a sign of real love, because it seems to me it was an act of pity. And if Christine says its the Phantom's soul, not his face, that is truly disfiguired, why does she have to kiss him to prove that his soul can be saved? And if she really wants to save his soul, why does she allow him to escape justice for all the terrible crimes he's committed? Several possibilities are alluded to, but NOTHING IS EXPLAINED!

And on a more practical note, why the heck does he demand 20,000 francs from the opera's owners? He's living in the sewers underneath Paris - he's never going to spend that money. Is it to show his complete control over the opera? Isn't terrorizing it enough?