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27 November 2014
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Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera (2004)
The Phantom Of The Opera
The Phantom Of The Opera

Director Joel Schumacher attempts to transform Andrew Lloyd Webber's globally-renowned musical into a film. it'll never work - or will it?

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By Anjool Malde

It's an admirable challenge to try and shift arguably the finest of British theatre in history from the stage to the silver screen, and one that I was initially pessimistic about. Surely the magic of a musical - the costumes, make-up, lighting, orchestral effects and overall atmosphere, can only be captured on a live stage, and not a two-dimensional projection?

Evidently so. Even though the film begins with effective alternating between two periods, the problem with The Phantom of the Opera is that the bulk of the story is actually set on the stage, making Schumacher's adaptation seem barely different to the stage musical being recorded on camera.

The audience's tolerance levels probably near breaking point near the start as the abhorrent, obnoxious La Carlotta (Minnie Driver) struggles to cope with being ousted by the pure and innocent Christine Daae. Played by teenage newcomer Emmy Rossum, Christine discovers that the Phantom (Gerard Butler), a facially disfigured genius, is 'her spirit and her voice, in one combined' .

From then on the battle for Christine's affection of the Phantom against childhood sweetheart Raoul (Patrick Wilson) takes centre stage. But the need for most lines to be melodramatically sung (or should I say mimed), coupled with Butler's wavering performance and some inconsistently garish music undermines the performance.

Baz Luhrmann's screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet went down a treat because he creatively integrated his own twist. Schumacher on the other hand lacks any ounce of innovation here, relying virtually solely on pre-created script. Furthermore, the screen adaptation of Lloyd Webber's Evita was successful, as presumably would be Cats and Joseph. But trying to 'cinemise' something relying so heavily on using the stage just doesn't work.

However, it cannot be denied that a lot of content is still effectively captured; for example, the emotionally-charged masterpiece duet 'All I Ask of You' by Christine and Raoul, the immense drama as the chandelier crashes, and repeatedly the suspense from the pendulum-like Christine's tough decisions.

I would say ten out of ten for effort, but I'd be lying. However, whilst this clearly doesn't live up to the theatre version, it should be noted that the cinema is a fraction of the price.

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