September 22nd, 2002

Photo - leaves

my god, but silent movies are cool...

in the excitement of moving back to uni, i forgot to do my lowdown on friday night's activities.

last night, i went to see the original "the phantom of the opera" movie at the symphony hall, where it was being played with an original organ accompaniment on the new organ. apart from the fact it's a damn cool movie to begin with, it rocked...

in parts, it was done seriously. then, in others, the organist made you realise how utterly cheesy it is in parts, by playing silly music. specifically, right at the beginning when the opera gets signed over to the new managers, and this wonderful bit where ledoux of the secret police (who is, in fact, the persian in the original novel) is telling raoul to keep his hand up to ward off the punjab lasso...

there was lots of recognisable tunes interspersed which made the whole thing so much funnier:

the opening sequence of the paris opera house (and, by the way, it appears to have been filmed on location apart from the underground lake sets, which were then reused in the claude rains 1945 version and are the only redeeming factor of it), was given a backing of the french national anthem... *grin*

whenever ledoux appears (and before his identity is revealed), we were subjected to the theme of 'the pink panther'. and oddly enough, he did look a lot like peter sellers... (hm. wonder if his name is a play on 'leroux'... cos there's no ledoux in the book...) then, when he reveals himself as "ledoux of the secret police", everyone started laughing even harder...

when carlotta is singing her aria in 'faust' - the famous one that marguerite sings which everyone probably knows when they hear it - instead of playing said aria as he did for christine later, he played "i feel pretty" from 'west side story'. much amusement.

when the phantom/erik takes christine through the mirror for the first time and puts her on his horse, we were presented with "there's a place for us"...

christine and raoul, on the roof, plot to elope to england, whereby we were treated to "rule britannia" :)

when erik goes to see his 'callers' on the other side of the lake, using a pole through which to breathe underwater, (and this was my favourite) we had "under the sea" from 'the little mermaid'. it was lost on most of the audience save for me sniggering my head off and some random woman shrieking up in the circle...

i think there were also several others that i didn't recognise, but which got a laugh as well. what was so cool was the fact that each of the 'modern' songs were then used as a 'theme' for that sequence or character, and it worked really well.

the last time i saw this version was on video a while back, having bought it for some extortionate amount. film-wise, i'd say it was the definitive version. i can't stand the 1945 version because it twists the plot too much; this one, while changing some things, still keeps most of the original novel intact; most other modern versions were done too much as horror and not enough as drama and romance.

and here's something bizarre. lloyd webber, i can tell, took a lot of his inspiration from this version, especially the bal masque sequence (which in this particular version has been dyed in green and red to make it more vibrant). michael crawford, when he still thought he was going to play raoul, based himself on nelson eddy in the 1945 version... weird, huh?

anyway, i'm going off my point, as usual. i was going to say that when i was watching it, i actually noticed a lot more about the characters that i had originally, probably because of the 'big screen' element. (and no, i didn't manage to get through it without my brain referring constantly to sunset AND buffy, thus resulting in my deciding to do a norma/joe scene where she says she was one of the extras, and the buffy/POTO crossover because spike just is the bloody phantom... ye gods...) so. my observations:

erik: lon chaney certainly looks horrific, although more so when first revealed. later, his humanity shines through, as does his dry humour. such is the talent of these silent actors that they can portray this without words other than those on the screen... when he has his mask, you can only see his eyes... and even then you can see the despair and pure adoration for his young protegee. this particular erik, though, isn't the romantic, mysterious erik of lloyd webber's production, nor is he even the desperate, heart-broken, almost petrarchan spurned lover... he's more of a want-take-have erik, even though he explains himself... and they also kill him off at the end, which isn't nice... but that'd be 1920s movie morals for you, i suppose... he's technically the 'baddie' and he's not allowed to repent for his crimes. oh, yes, and there's this wonderfully bizarre moment when christine faints, and his reaction is incredibly camp...

*ahem* moving on...

christine: mary philbin plays the typical simpering, frightened, naive christine daaé of the novel. such were women portrayed. but beyond that, she's conniving and sneaky and the very epitome of victorian girl power :) when erik has raoul and ledoux trapped in his torture chamber without realising it, and they call out, christine pretends not to hear them... just like she pretends not to be doing anything at all when she's really searching for the keys right behind his back... which also makes her an idiot, because he has hearing like a bloody cat, but i digress... there is also a small element of coquettishness that seems only to occur around erik... with raoul she's obedient, pathetic, and frankly annoying... but with erik? well, generally, she's scared stiff. but on the morning when she steals his mask, her curiosity beats her fear (did i mention she's an idiot yet? he says that if she leaves the mask alone she won't be harmed...) and she takes it, and it's almost like they're some bizarre married couple...

or maybe my inner shipper's grasping for anything...

raoul: i've forgotten the actor's name and i can't be bothered to go to the IMDB to find out. i love this portrayal, though. he's just like raoul should be - a fop. he basically does nothing but:
a) stand around and glare randomly at people.
b) simper irritatingly over christine
c) get himself into trouble
d) not listen to any good advice given to him by anyone.
which is precisely how i like my raoul to be. he's not the hero, dammit! apart from the fact that, when trying to save christine, she ends up saving him instead...

ledoux: okay, so there is no ledoux in the original novel because he's the persian. and what's odd is that ledoux looks like he should be the persian (or possibly more arabian than persian, but definitely not french), and the character is, for all intents and purposes, the persian. he knows erik's secrets, he helps raoul find christine and the entrance to the lair, and he sneaks around the opera a lot. weird.

that's pretty much everyone i noticed anything about...

i do remember that the spookiest thing by far had to be the phantom's 'doorbell', which consists of a metal lion knocking its paws on a metal base... which was emulated by someone knocking metal against metal in time with the picture. this made me jump both times it was done if only for the fact that it was echoing around the entire auditorium...

oh, and at the beginning, they had a guy dressed as the phantom wandering around the stage and the front row *grin* i was hoping it was the organist, but... alas, no.

final thought, a la jerry springer: they should make more silent movies. i'm serious. you honestly cannot appreciate the talent of an actor until you've seen a silent movie, where everything is down to gesture and expression and music and the occasional silent line, which doesn't necessarily fit the text onscreen. admittedly, if a silent movie was made today, it wouldn't get very far in the box office... but if anyone could do it, and do it well, i think baz luhrman could. he already pushed the boat out with 'moulin rouge' and its being a musical... he could do a silent movie, and make it damn well trendy :D

and if they're not going to make more, they should show more, like they did here. i would love to see 'nosferatu' under the same conditions, or some of the old chaplins. and okay, so i spent £6.50, essentially, to see a movie. but goddammit, it was worth it.