Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Feel it, Hear it..."

I'm watching the movie version of Phantom of the Opera for the first time - I saw the musical three times in LA as teenager and loved it - and I can't help wondering if Schumacher bothered listening to any of the lyrics at all.

Right now, the Phantom and Christine are singing "Music of the Night" in his caves underneath the opera house, and the whole thing is brightly lit. Not harshly, it's all nice and warm and gold with soft shadows that give it texture without making it dark or hard to see. But that means that when the Phantom is singing about darkness stirring the imagination - he's standing in this gold glow, with everything behind him perfectly visible. And instead of the light being cold and white and "unfeeling" when he sings about her turning her face away from the "garish light of day" the light around them is all warm and welcoming. The only thing that's "garish" in the scene is the way his caves are decorated.

To which I can only say wha?

Ah, well. I'm also less enchanted by the story than I used to be. I think it's because rather than seeing the Phantom as merely a tragic villain, I can't help seeing him as a proxy for Weber himself. Not that I know much about him, but based on things like what happened with Evita, I can't help but picture how Weber must view all the women who have played his Christine's and Evita's when I hear the lines "I am the mask you wear/It's me they hear" and the like. (Yes, I know he didn't write the lyrics, but my mind keeps making the association anyway.) Granted, Christine ends up with the only person who argues that her talent is her own, but since the the story starts with him alone, the ending isn't a completely happy one either.

Besides, I love Minnie Driver's acting and I get annoyed with the way Hollywood always manages to write so many parts for new undiscovered ingenues but rarely has anything worthy of it's most talented, established actresses. This time around, I'm finding myself rooting for Carlotta.

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