Phantom of the Paradise (Umbrella) (1974)

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Released 17-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Main Menu Audio-2:54
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Tommy, Star Struck, Rock 'N' Roll High School, The Rutles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 87:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Brian De Palma
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Paul Williams
William Finley
Jessica Harper
George Memmoli
Gerrit Graham
Archie Hahn
Jeffrey Comanor
Harold Oblong
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Paul Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Phantom Of The Paradise was conceived in the era of classic rock operas and musicals. The seventies saw the emergence of many filmed versions of these rock operas and musicals which were originally written for the stage. Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, The Rocky Horror Show and Tommy are just a few in a wide and varied collection.

    Although Phantom Of The Paradise is still a relatively early work of writer/director Brian De Palma, it is actually the fifteenth film in his extensive filmography as a director and probably only the second of his films to be more widely recognized by a mainstream audience, the first being the controversial Sisters, made the year before in 1973.

    De Palma pays homage to many other films and stories in his screenplay, with the greatest influence obviously coming from the classic Gaston Leroux  story of The Phantom Of The Opera .The whole premise of the film brings the basic storyline of this timeless tale into a modern and evil world of extreme capitalism. Phantom Of The Paradise is familiar, yet still very original and is also rich in humour of a very dark nature.

    The Phantom in this story is Winslow Leach (William Finley). He has just completed the composition of his greatest musical work, a rock cantata based on the legend of Faust.

    Evil music tyrant and head of Death Records, Swan (Paul Williams), hears the cantata and wants to use the music to open his new rock palace, The Paradise. One of Swan's henchmen, Arnold Philbin (George Memmoli), convinces Winslow to hand over the music, under the promise of amazing fame and fortune. However, this is a promise that Swan never plans to keep.

    Winslow meets a young and hopeful singer, Phoenix (Jessica Harper). She has aspirations of getting a part in the chorus of the production at The Paradise. He is greatly impressed with her voice and her interpretation of his work and insists that only she can sing his masterwork. But when Winslow tries to get some recognition and remuneration for the use of his music, Swan has him beaten and then has him framed for drug possession.

    Winslow is jailed for a crime he did not commit and, to rub salt into the wound, has all his teeth removed under a so-called dental health program run by the evil Swan Foundation.

    Enraged by his situation, Winslow escapes from jail and breaks into the Death Records building. He is chased by guards and falls into a record press while trying to destroy pressings of his music. He subsequently receives horrific burns to his face and permanent damage to his voice.

    Later, the disfigured form of Winslow mysteriously appears at The Paradise, where he acquires a cape and mask and becomes the Phantom Of The Paradise. He sets about wreaking havoc in his desire for retribution, and in particular his desperate need to remove Beef (Gerrit Graham) from the lead role of the production and replace him with his beloved, Phoenix.

    After a series of deliberate accidents caused by the phantom, he finally meets with Swan face to face. The evil tyrant makes a deal with Winslow that he will interpret the cantata just as Winslow had intended and to also put Phoenix in the lead role of the production. However, Winslow is about to discover that a deal made with the devil is full of fine print.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     I believe the video transfer is faithful to the source material.

     Phantom Of The Paradise is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The film exhibits a slight softness overall, which is consistent with the original film. Occasional mild grain is also noticeable, but is not problematic. Blacks were generally very good, with no evidence of any low-level noise. Shadows displayed very good detail.

    This film relies heavily on its strong use of colour and thankfully this transfer doesn't disappoint. Although the colours have that distinct seventies look, they are suitably vibrant and very well balanced. I found no evidence of oversaturation throughout the film.

    I found no MPEG artefacts in this transfer. There were no significant negative issues with film-to-video artefacts and film artefacts were negligible.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, single layered disc, so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is a good stereo re-mix of the original mono audio track.

    There is one audio track available on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was generally good, apart from a split screen segment of two simultaneous scenes that appears at 26:30. I found dialogue in that scene a little confusing, however this was not a direct problem of the audio transfer. Some of the lip-syncing of the songs in the film is less than perfect, but again, this is not a transfer issue. Apart from that minor issue, audio sync was generally very good.

    The musical score by Paul Williams is obviously a crucial element to the film. Paul's credentials in writing music are impeccable, with scores of his songs recorded by an impressive list of iconic singers. Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and The Carpenters are just a tiny sample of the artists who have recorded his songs over the years. Paul is a multi-award winning composer, as well as an actor, with many film and television credits to his name. While his Oscar nominated score for Phantom Of The Paradise is an excellent one, there is nothing that is immediately grabbing in the music. Instead, this is a score that becomes more endearing with each viewing of the film and is worthy of its high cult status.

    The surround encoding in the audio track spread all the music across the channels. The occasional direct effect was also noticed. In particular, the split screen scenes at 26:31 had the ticking clock with explosion, and some rumbling thunder at 67:23 worked well also.

    The subwoofer was kept very active throughout the film, providing excellent enhancement to bass elements of the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This edition of Phantom Of The Paradise is lacking any real form of extras.

Menu

    The menu is static, 16x9 enhanced, very basic in design and features Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s) audio, which is surround-encoded.

Theatrical Trailer

Phantom Of The Paradise (2:49)

    This so-called trailer is nothing more than a series of small grabs from the film, edited in a way to resemble a trailer.

Umbrella Trailers   

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version of Phantom Of The Paradise appears to be very close in specification to this all region local version.

    The R1 version differs with the inclusion of a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio track, English and Spanish subtitles and of course, the R1 version is an NTSC transfer.

    Unless the French audio or English and Spanish subtitles are an important issue, I would stick with the local version, because of the simple matter of convenience.

Summary

    Phantom Of The Paradise is an earlier film in the career of Brian De Palma .While the film certainly won't appeal to everyone, it does deserve its considerable cult status. The film is a clever social satire, with occasional stunning visuals and an interesting music score by Paul Williams. The homage paid to many other films should keep film buffs on their toes.

    The transfers are both very good.

    The extras are negligible.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Friday, January 13, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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