The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind The Mask
Featurette-The Music Of The Phantom Of The Opera
Trailer-Four Promotions Of The Original Show
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (86:44)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Joel Schumacher|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|RPI||$39.95||Music||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Last year, the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenally successful stage musical, The Phantom of the Opera, became the most expensive independent film ever made. Dismissed by most critics as being merely a "feature-length gothic rock video", Webber's kitschy theatrical spectacle was now a kitschy theatrical movie, with a mix of melodrama, horror, romance, mystery, and melody.
The story for the musical was based on the famous novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera, which was first published in France in 1910. Understandably, Mills and Boon published an English version of Leroux's novel the following year. While being a best-seller, the novel was heavily criticised for being “too populist”. The plot is built around a long-standing rumour at the Grand Paris Opera House of the existence of a phantom who attended performances, by taking up residence in Box 5 of the opera house. In the novel, Viscount Raoul de Chagny visits a young chorus girl, Christine, after her debut performance as a stand-in. Romance ensues between them, but panic grips the greedy management, as letters arrive from the Opera Ghost, demanding that his box be left vacant. The management ignore the letters, and Christine is kidnapped at a fancy dress party. Heroic Raoul enters the dark depths of the Paris Opera House to search for her.
Currently the second longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera has played to over 100 million people in 22 countries, in 113 cities around the world since its first performance. The New York production alone has entertained over 10 million people since its opening in 1988, and it is still going strong.
Phantom ran for a few years in Australia and as a university student I worked as a casual on the Sydney production. As an usher, I watched over 200 performances of Phantom. It was with this intimate knowledge, curiosity, and a sense of nostalgia, that I watched the screen adaptation of the musical.
The adaptation is quite faithful, but there are a few notable changes, such as the addition of a new song and some new music. I did, however, find the adaptation to be quite humourless. A lot of the laughs from the stage production are missing.
In terms of the musical itself, sadly the style of songs depart greatly from the earlier, edgier, Lloyd Webber, and his cynical, intelligent lyricist Tim Rice. Unfortunately, there's nothing as witty or as sharp as found in Jesus Christ Superstar. Rather, we get treated to empty, greeting-card lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, and Lloyd Webber's treacly, pop tunes, which sound like they were written for Celine Dion.
The movie's leads, Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, are not given much to do with their characters, but the 16-year-old Rossum still shines with a vulnerability and sweetness missing from some of the stage Christines. As pretty-boy, Raoul, Patrick Wilson, makes the most of his Ken-doll role. Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson, and Simon Callow also all breathe life into the movie with their colorful supporting character roles
The film's outstanding features, however, are the sumptuous sets and lavish costumes. The filmmakers have paid great attention to detail, and the art and set direction are sublime. While lacking heart, this movie remains a beautiful and sensual spectacle. Sadly, however, it lacks the impact and magic of seeing it performed live.
The video quality is very good, and this big-screen, lavish spectacle demands to be watched with a projector.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.38:1, 16x9 Enhanced.
The sharpness of the image is good throughout. For example, consider the detail of the elaborate uniform at 86:30. There are, however, some intentionally grainy and blurry sequences (flashbacks). The black level is excellent. The shadow detail is poor in the darker scenes, such as in the Phantom's lair at 33:17.
The colour is excellent, which is important for this film.
There are no problems with MPEG artefacts.
Film-To-Video Artefacts appears in the form of aliasing, such as the shimmer on the building at 0:48, and the stairs at 52:40.
Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are mostly small. Some edge enhancement is occasionally noticeable, but I never found it distracting.
English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present on the DVD, which include the song lyrics, and they are accurate.
This is a dual-layer disc, with the layer change at 86:44.
There is only one audio option on the disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).
The dialogue quality and audio sync are good. This is notable as the majority of this movie would have looped dialogue/singing.
The musical score is of course provided by Lloyd Webber, and as I note above, sadly the songs and music lack the grit and cyncism of Lloyd Webber's earlier collaboration with Tim Rice. One bright note is the clever parody of opera here and there.
The surround presence is quite front heavy, but the rears are used throughout to carry the score, and to provide ambience, such as the audience's applause at 56:34. There is a solid LFE track in accompaniment, with a good example being the deep rumble of drums at 73:32.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a few genuine extras, which will please fans of the musical. Unless stated otherwise, all extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 Enhanced, with Dolby Digital Stereo Surround audio. Yes! This is how extras should be presented!
Animated with audio.
Behind The Mask (15:14)
A look behind the scenes at the production. We see some of the before and after CGI work, and some of the lavish set design and construction. This extra includes interviews with the Producers, Director, and Lloyd Webber himself.
The Music Of The Phantom Of The Opera (17:45)
A musicologists discusses the music in reference to some other musicals and Lloyd Webber's style.
Four Promotions Of The Original Show
These are four 'music videos', seemingly made before the original musical was finished. They feature Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman:
The Phantom of the Opera is to be released on DVD in Region 1 in May 2005.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
I would call it even, but personally I'd favour our superior PAL image. Especially if you plan to watch this with a projector.
The Phantom of the Opera is enjoyable melodrama, but it lacks the impact of a live, stage performance.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is also very good.
The extras are genuine.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|