PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
One of the most famous, and gruesome, love stories of all time, wherein a disfigured lunatic menaces the Paris Opera House and creates, and then forces his affections upon, its star singer.
Is it good movie?
Before there was the Andrew Llyod Weber musical, and the subsequent Joel Shumacher suckfest film version, there was the 1925 Rupert Julian adaptation of Gaston Lerouxís 1910 novel Phantom of the Opera. In it, a hideously-visaged musical genius resides in the tunnels and torture chambers below the Paris Opera House (Google ďThe CommuneĒ), and takes a particular interest in Christine, whom he tutors from behind a mirror, and strong-arms the house owners into letting take the lead in their current production of Faust. Now he just needs to get rid of that pesky Raoul so he can have Christine all to himself.
Iím not a film purist, and have to admit having a difficult time enjoying a silent film. However, I have to be impressed with the scope of this early cinematic effort. The set design is marvelous, and closely mirrors the actual Paris Opera House, as I understand. Also, while most of the actors in the film are pretty much set dressing as well, Lon Chaney is astounding. His self-applied makeup, secrets which he took to the grave, by the way, rival anything concocted by SFX professionals today. Also, the climax of the film is honestly disturbing.
This Blu-Ray release is astounding in its own right. If you are a fan of the film, look no further: every single bit of information you could want is here. It contains all three versions of the film, each with a different edit and score. The original 1925 cut is close to two hours long, but the print is dogged to say the least. The 1929 release has new scenes which necessitated a new 93-minute edit, and also contains a few two-color Technicolor scenes and a few sound scenes. It also has the best score of the three. Finally, there is another 1929 release which is only 88 minutes long, for some reason. Itís basically like having three films on one disc. Talk about bang for your buck.
Video / Audio
Video: There are three prints of the film displayed here, all with varying degrees of quality, but all are excellent given that the source material for all three are close to 100-years old. Youíll have to check the Special Features section for more info.
Audio: Similarly, there are actually four different scores, depending on which version of the film you watch. While the same cannot be said for the film, all are presented here crisp and clear.
There are three versions of the film presented:
Original 1925 Version: This is a 6-millimeter source copy, and it looks it. For the actual purists out there, here you go. It is accompanied by a Frederick Douglas score, which is entirely on piano. 1.37:1 aspect ratio.
1929 Reissue Version: This is a version of the film that was re-released with some color footage and a few sound scenes, taking advantage of the new technology at the time. Some new scenes were shot, and other scenes had to be recut to accommodate them. The film clocks in about 30-minutes lighter, and is accompanied by a Gabriel Thibaudeau score, which is my particular favorite of the three. It also has a very informative and interesting commentary by Dr. Jon Mirsalis. 1.2:1 aspect ratio.
1929 Reissue Version: Yes, this is another 1929 reissue. Why, I am not sure. It clocks in even shorter than the other 1929 version, and has two optional scores: one by the Alloy Orchestra, and an organ score by Gaylord Carter. 1.2:1 aspect ratio.
Interview with Gabriel Thibaudeau: This is an interview culled from a mid-80ís PBS entertainment show.
In addition to the above, there is also a theatrical trailer, a still gallery, a script, and a reproduction of the theatrical souvenir program.
As I said in the review, pretty much every GD piece of information you could ever want about this film.
While I canít say I enjoy watching silent films, this one in particular is a very important piece, and boasts an amazing performance by Lon Chaney. It also utilizes the Blu-Ray format to squeeze on every single bit of info you could want about the film. Pick this one up, and youíll have a compendium of Phantom of the Opera.