Bringing the magic of the Phantom of the Opera to the big screen was a difficult task for anyone, but director Joel Schumacher took on the challenge. Phantom is London’s second-longest running musical, after Les Miserables, as it has continuously been on stage since 1986. Phantom’s creator Andrew Lloyd Webber was on hand to make sure that this adaptation of his work was perfect, from the music down to the very last candlestick in Phantom’s creepy underground lair. If you’ve not seen the stage show, then this film is a good way to start your descent into the crazy, obsessed fandom.
So who was chosen to fill these mighty shoes? Playing the title role was Scottish actor Gerard Butler, who you may have seen in films like 300 and P.S. I Love You. It came as a surprise to many that he could sing so sweetly, but Butler wasn’t Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first choice for the role. Actually, it was Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, i.e. Zorro/Puss in Boots. Banderas had always wanted to play the role, and had been taking special singing lessons for it. However, a clash of schedules with another film he was working on meant he was unable to fulfil this dream, so Butler stepped in. Playing Christine was young soprano Emmy Rossum, who was only about 17 or 18 at the time. This was actually ideal, considering the character of Christine was only about that age too. Much of the cast included classic British actors, such as Miranda Richardson and Simon Callow.
Each character had their own unique singing style, but of course Christine and the Phantom had the most distinctive. There is actually little conversation in the film, because much of it is actually part of a song, for instance in the scene “Notes” where the characters read/sing aloud their letters from Phantom.
The set is possibly one of the most spectacular sets in film history. In the stage show, everything is modelled on the Paris Opera House. The film has so many different sets – from graveyards, to grand theatres, to creepy submerged lakes and the Phantom’s lair. There must have been some seriously complicated pyrotechnics (fire technology) for it to appear like the candles lit straight after coming out of the water. How they managed to create an entire submerged river and lake is also a complete mystery.
There are a few noticeable differences to the stage show, though. Firstly, the chandelier falls at a different point – closer to the end in the film, for more dramatic effect. The film is also shorter than the stage show, as it cuts out a few scenes. It’s still pretty long though. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a new song for the film, but it was cut out of the final edit. You can watch it on special features, though, and it makes the character of Phantom more sympathetic. Lastly, the film is different to the stage show in terms of costume. In some scenes, the distinctive style of the theatre is lost, to make it more authentic and film-friendly. It’s a shame, but if you haven’t already seen the stage show, it won’t seem like that much of a big deal. Give it a go.
Image from: http://moviepilot.com/posts/2014/11/06/wait-they-re-making-two-phantom-of-the-opera-tv-series-2411392?lt_source=external,manual