Have any of you ever seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway? Know the songs? Well, here’s how The Phantom of the Opera all started. It was a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux in 1910. The president of Universal Studios, Carl Laemmie, was given by the author a copy of his book and he read it all in one night and bought the film rights. For those of you who don’t know, The Phantom of the Opera is about a phantom with a deformed face who falls in love with an Opera singer and goes through murderous lengths to make her his.
Before I saw this silent film version, I was more used to the musical version where they romanticize the relationship between The Phantom and Christine. Where it’s not exactly black and white and you can sympathize with The Phantom when you find out more about his backstory and why his face looks the way it looks. This version, however, shows how The Phantom is psychotically obsessed with Christine and causes mayhem and harm to those she loves so that he’s in her possession. All Christine can think about is escaping him. We see how evil The Phantom is in how he plays sadistic tricks on Christine and doesn’t care who he hurts or what Christine even wants. Do you believe The Phantom to be a pure villain or just an anti-hero? Should she have chosen Raoul?
Believe it or not, the first time that Christine unmasks The Phantom, no one knew what Lon Chaney’s make-up would look like. Not just the ones on set but no newspapers or pictures were sent to the public about what The Phantom would look like for the audience to be shocked when seeing it. Lon Chaney, who plays The Phantom, did the make-up himself using fish skin, a wire-and-rubber device, cotton, collodin, greasepaint, and glue. Some people even fainted at the premiere! Do you think you would have if you were there? You can tell that since the 1925 version saw The Phantom as a villain, it would only make sense to have him look like a skeleton– so scary that one glimpse of him would disturb you. I will admit that it’s a shame the film was silent because I would have liked to have heard the music from the Opera House but if that’s the case, I can just listen to the musical soundtrack. The sets of The Phantom’s lair looked very impressive and haunting. I recommend seeing this film if you like films of obsession and horror elements.
Watch the silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera and respond with your thoughts. I also recommend looking towards Amazon Prime for better quality: