Phantom of the Opera is an ode to music lovers and musicians sprinkled with a pinch of darkness. At times, it is a first row experience into an actual opera performed by large groups of genuine players on a giant stage. This is a gorgeous movie with elaborate palettes of vibrant colors. Sumptuous, luxurious, dreamy; the set and costume design deserve their respective award.
This isn’t a musical in that the dialogue happens not during but between songs. It is a musical showcase that can be hard to sit through for some viewers. The horror facet only picks up in the second half. There is something incredibly enticing in having a masked figure haunt an opera house. The writers know it. Elaborate sets are used to create a visual maze that the camera makes the most of.
Contrary to the 1925 adaptation of the same novel by Gaston Leroux, this version includes the phantom’s backstory in real time, in the first act. Here, he is more a burn victim than an actual ghost, as the title implies. 1943’s Phantom of the Opera is a painting in motion. It is dialogue-heavy, romanticized and a slow-burn. It is classy, elegant, grandiose, but it isn’t exactly big on action…