At the Opera of Paris, a mysterious phantom threatens a famous lyric singer, Carlotta and thus forces her to give up her role (Marguerite in Faust) for unknown Christine Daae. Christine meets this phantom (a masked man) in the catacombs, where he lives. What's his goal ? What's his secret ? Written by
The pathos of Lon Chaney gave the Phantom its dimension...
Lon Chaney was the first of the long line of Phantoms and the one against whom all his successors had to be measured
The story, despite all its alternatives, is the familiar one of the musician avoiding the world because of his disfigurement and retreating to a hideout beneath the Opera House, from where he emerges to terrorize singers and audience alike
He kidnaps a young girl singer perhaps to teach her to become a great star; certainly because, in his grotesque and pathetic way, he loves her and carries her off to a boudoir he has prepared far underground
There was melodrama in plenty: in the first version, for example, two would-be rescuers found themselves trapped in an uncomfortable mirrored room the Phantom had prepared, where they first got a heat treatment and then were flooded
But, beyond all the heightened effects, it was the pathos of the Phantom underscoring his lonely menace which gave the character a dimension, and the isolation of the captor and his captive, imprisoned to a literal underworld, which gave the suspense of the whole film its power
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