Bit of backstory necessary for this, back in the 70s Ken Hill fashioned a Phantom Of The Opera musical completely unrelated to what we know today as the musical Phantom, and two creators saw the Ken Hill play, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Arthur Kopit, who in tandem with Maury Yeston were creating a Phantom story of their own with a lot more emphasis on romance instead of horror. But Lord Andy and Cameron Mackintosh got to the finish first and even though the Yeston and Kopit stage play was backed by Broadway and ready to go, they all jumped ship to the Lloyd Webber musical forcing the duo to shelve the project until the 90s. The Charles Dance mini-series is essentially the play just without most of the musical numbers. And the Yeston and Kopit musical has been performed all over the world with a highly succesful iteration in Japan with an all female troupe, so it's not complete bad news for them. But back to the main reason we're here. The movie is a good sit clocking in at 3 hours and honestly if they just stuck to the book I really think we would have had a definitive version here, cause obviously they don't need to rush the story with a good runtime like that, they actually film at the legit Opera Populaire, and for a while at the beginning it seems to follow the sequence of events for the book. But hey, the musical wasn't really trying to be faithful to the book so whatever it's okay. It's pretty typical for the vast majority of the movie in terms of plot, a young lady named Christine is brought to the Opera House with patronage of the Count De Chagny, as new managers move in, and both come to be aware seperately of a strange presence at the opera. Christine gets singing lessons, mishaps occur at the performances of prima donna Carlotta, Raoul or rather Philipe in this version takes an interest in Christine, and the Phantom eventually abducts her. It doesn't deviate much from the source except in one major respect, we get backstory on Erik's parents. And of course they have to fiddle about with Christine so she looks like Erik's mom, I'll never understand that as long as I live! Why? Just leave it, leave it, stop touching it, if it ain't broke don't damn well fix it! Back to the review. The recent ex-manager of the opera is Erik's father, which some people have issue with but honestly I don't mind it, sure he's not as isolated or takes great matters in his hands cause he has help from above but I feel how the story goes and the performances involved make it work nicely. Talking of which, this is a very good cast. I know Charles Dance has a big reputation these days and I'm thrilled he does, but to me he'll always be Erik first and foremost. Very different from past incarnations, much more soft spoken and gentlemanly rather than outright murdering monster. And I have to give the movie major credit for not showing the Phantom's face, controversial perhaps but I like that it's just left to your imagination and it works in a different way. Plus I greatly enjoy how you can tell he has feelings for Christine and while he showers her with compliments and enjoys her company he doesn't really know how to say or voice his deep love for her. Teri Polo as Christine I loved just as much as Charles, she has this very humble, innocent, sweet persona and it's difficult not to smile when she's on screen, and brownie points for getting a blonde Christine like in the book which is rarer than having Meg or Caesar the horse in an adaptation. This might be the first Burt Lancaster movie I've seen and he has a good presence weaving the mystery of the opera ghost, the relationship between Gerard and Erik is not only unique but heartfelt at times, and I like how he has a prominent role throughout. Ian Richardson and Andrea Ferreol make a solid duo as the opera manager Choleti and Carlotta, they're used for comic relief well but not overused, Carlotta's actually pretty devious in this and any version of this character is fun to watch even if her egotistical personality makes her very unlikeable. And Adam Storke as Philipe, no disrespect to the man at all for this, but I really don't like this version of Raoul. This is quintessential floppy hair fop Raoul and I don't truthfully buy the romance but I barely ever do, I mean he acts perfectly fine but it's the character I take issue with. I was so over it by the end man, I just don't like the ending cause it puts me in a bummer mood but at the exact same time that goes to show good storytelling and effective drama if it can take you to those emotional places. I highly recommend looking this movie up on Youtube cause there was some severe film preservation going on and even more so specifically Phantom film preservation, they have both parts in upscaled 1080p and it looked great even on my laptop. Seeing the Paris Opera House in such clarity, with all the costumes and props, was so cool and enjoyable. It's undoubtedly a movie that's a matter of taste to people, some adore it and say it's one of the best, other say it isn't for them, but where do I stand? Well once more, this version I have heard about for 15 years now and finally seeing it was nice. I think it's a very good version and has lots to enjoy, but I can understand some of the feedback on things like the runtime, the Phantom's characterization, more emphasis on romance and less on the music, but those things didn't faze me badly. There's something for everyone in this phandom. You want straight up bloody horror here's the Robert Englund version, you want classic cinema and a faithful adaptation go wild with the Chaney version, you want high emotion melodrama with a fantastic score the musical is most certainly the way, and if you want absolutely fucking nothing what so goddamn ever to do with the source material unfortunately the Dario Argento version exists. I'd recommend this for phans who want a more human story with Erik and Christine, who like romance movies and emotional drama, or just wanting to see yet another version previously unexplored, because it is worth it. And from what I've seen the stage show isn't half bad either, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it all live, and on the tier list of Phantom musicals I think it sits at 2nd place which in the grand scheme of things is a mighty good place to be. So take it for what it's worth. 3 stars, 8/10! And God above are we just digging into it tomorrow, oh yes it is time to talk....Love Never Dies.
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