Phantom of the Opera

July 30, 2010
These past couple of weeks, I've been hearing a LOT about a certain show currently being performed at the Fox in Atlanta. It seems like half of the people I know are flocking in droves to see...The Phantom of the Opera, on the final stop of its tour. Teenagers I didn't think could care less about any musical, the unlikely parents of friends, guys that have never before been to any theatre, plus of course those that you'd expect...they're all headed to one place.

And for weeks I've been almost jealous. Almost. But not quite. I'll tell you why.

I enjoy music, and I've had a tendency to turn to a lime shade of green when observing those with enormous talent, whether it be with their voice, or on a particular instrument. Even when I was a little girl I've enjoyed performing on stage, ever since I played the part of a singing sheep in the church Christmas play and my headband with ears fell off (traumatizing, let me say that you have no idea). But I've never been delusional enough to believe that I have any talent. Because I really don't. I’m not a horrible actress, and I’m a decent singer, but not extraordinary by any measure.

When I hang out with those people that are totally into the singing-acting-dancing-any-combination-of-the-three kind of thing, I'm almost insecure enough to feel left out, but not envious enough to let it ruin my own enjoyment of their abilities. I can do other things. But, lacking the talent to actually perform beautiful songs, I've never really...been quite as inclined to learn them or get emotionally involved with the musicals that they come from.

My friends Micah, Camille, and Nicholas have been talking about The Phantom of the Opera for about as long as I've known the three collectively. On occasion I have even heard the three singing selections, or discussing something Phantom-related while I listened. Micah and Camille especially seem to like this movie, soundtrack, book...anything at all related to the theatrical performance. Without putting much thought into it, or becoming too interested, I decided to find out more about this seeming phenomenon. I read part of the book, and looked the movie up on Wikipedia. Christine, the deformed man, opera, sounds cool, who really cares, right?

Well, tonight I watched the movie for the first time.

I definitely do not have a large enough vocabulary to describe my reactions...I think that one way I could attempt to explain it, would be as in the wonderful book, Because of Winn Dixie, by using the example of a Litmus Lozenge. This candy, for you that don't know, is a treat that is created to manipulate your mind through your tongue, for it's a little wrapped lozenge that tastes both sweet and sad at the same time. That's one way to describe the Phantom of the Opera.

Like I mentioned before, I already knew the basic plot, but only so much. I spent most of the movie with that horrible choked up feeling, like you want to cry your eyes out because of the agony of it all, but can't. Perhaps I’m just a silly girl, with a dramatic reaction, but that’s how I am. Events effect me from the pit of my stomach to the depths of my heart. There’s nothing that can determine my attitude more (besides a personal experience) than a movie or book. I felt personally all of Erik’s (the Phantom) reactions, his heartbreak, his despair, and even his anger. The worst thing is that I fear I may have a split personality. Well, split emotions anyways.

I never want to be one of those "EHMAGOSHILOVETWILIGHTSOFREAKINGMUCH" types of girls. I'm nowhere near that. But I did read all four books, and liked them. One thing I could never understand though, was Bella's indecision regarding the vampire Edward, and the werewolf Jacob (let's not even discuss what the two are like in movies. gag). For me there was no contest, only a clearly superior Cullen. Yes, that's my opinion, and I'm not going to argue with you, because I'm so definitely not "Team Edward".

I've memorized almost all of The Princess Bride. That movie is “epic”. For me, and everyone else, there was never any contest between Westley and Prince Humperdinck. One is “epically” awesome in and of himself, the other is a pompous fool, and the villain no less. Really, they're never even considered rivals!

Just to make my point even clearer, let me bring up one of my favorite TV dramas in the whole entire world. Gilmore Girls. Rory has always attracted a lot of...male attention, but I've always been ten thousand percent positive about who I liked, who I didn't, who was right for her, who needed to take a hike up a mountain and never come back. I'm sorry, but Dean was always a jerk and loser, a small town hick with barely a day dream for his future. Sensitive, poetic, bad city boy Jess beat him out by approximately a thousand miles in every direction. It’s too bad that Rory was a little slow to pick up on that.

As you see, I am not terribly indecisive when it comes to knowing who I favor in romantic situations. As an additional confession, I also tend to be mentally rather harsh on the females who cannot choose. Bella is stupid. Rory (I do love her though, bless her heart!) was often nothing more than a tease. Buttercup was...well, Buttercup. No further comments.

I love The Phantom, or the Opera Ghost, or whatever you want to call him. I do like the misunderstood villain types, and my heart positively breaks when I hear of a promising life twisted darkly by abuse or terrible tragic events. I've been on his side from the beginning. Yeah, he murdered a few people. So what? My family likes to make a big deal out of this, but I don’t. Putting the whole issue of morality on the side, I understand what drove him to it. He could be violent and rough, but you just need to get over it, everyone has faults, and any flaws found in this man should be understandable. My family disappointed me. They hated the Phantom, and were Team Raoul 100%. I wish I could have just taken the opposing view and defended my dark, passionate genius of a hero, but no.

What keeps me from being completely in Erik’s court? Raoul. I must say, that he’s a lot better in the movie than in the book. In the first few chapters of the original Phantom of the Opera, I found the Compte de Chagny to be a little bit…annoying. In this movie, however, he’s rather romantic and endearing. For the first time I'm completely torn. Raoul deserves Christine more than anyone else. Plus he adores her with that unselfish I'll-give-my-life-for-yours way that makes most Prince Charmings so popular. Erik, on the other hand, is more like, "Come over to the dark side." I'm just a major sucker for those childhood sweetheart things. So I guess Raoul sounds perfect. He's wonderful. He and Christine are seemingly made for each other. But, so...where does that leave The Phantom?

That, I guess, is what has made this a selling story. I know I'm not the only one in the world to feel these things, but in a sword fight it's rather confusing to hear yourself cheer when Raoul is stabbed, while simultaneously hoping that he can retaliate quickly. Cry for the Phantom when Raoul kisses Christine; weep for the Compte de Chagny when his love is whisked away from him. And yet, I think that I lean much further to the side of the Phantom, because though the sweet relationship that Christine and Raoul remembered from their childhood days has been renewed to be sweet and fresh, Erik loves Christine with a passion! Some might say it’s simply because he’s insane, but I prefer to think of him as a tortured musical genius. Like Madame Giry said, he’s a master architect, musician, writer, and so much more. Yet because of his face he has been denied any opportunity in life at all. This is the real tragedy. Although personally, I think those that are super-super Briliiant are usually just one step away from madness anyways

I would say that it’s almost a miracle that this abused, mistreated creature of a man can love Christine at all. Whatever kind of messed up unhealthy relationship they may have had, with the life that he had lived, it’s remarkable that he didn’t hate the world and everyone in it. It’s funny (not haha, but in a weird way), as much as I wanted Erik to "win" Christine, I’m glad the story ended the way it did. The ending made the movie perfect.

Overall? This was the most wonderfully tragic, horribly revealing, heartbreakingly beautiful story I've ever known. Am I a little dramatic? Maybe. Am I exaggerating my emotions a wee bit? Not at all. :)

End Note: I know I didn’t say anything about the music, so I will now. The scores sent the mood of the entire movie, and every song that I heard was either exiting or lovely, romantic, and, like I said about the movie, heartbreakingly beautiful and wonderfully tragic.

Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

rainonroses said...
Aug. 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm
I LOVED this review! I am totally on your side. I feel the exact same thing when I watch phantom of the opera. I've seen it so many times, but yet whenever Christine sees the phantom in the swinging mirror and takes his hand and he leads her down the glowing candle lit corridor, I get chills all over. Not to mention when the chandelier goes up at the very beginning and suddenly the organ music bursts forth and all the dust is blown away and we're sucked back into the past. I can honestly say tha... (more »)
singing4ever said...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm
OMG!!! You are my twin or something. I agree with absolutely everything you said 9even about Twilight). You are a wonderful writer, I was completely into this review. Wonderful!!! I'm going to read some other work of yours.
runtaylorrun said...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm
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