The Phantom of the Opera
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Phantom of the Opera can be found here.

Is this an opera?

No. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Charles Hart is a musical set in an opera house. Note that it is probably closer to a operetta given the ratio of singing to speaking.

The Phantom is known for strangling his victims with his famed "Punjab Lasso" (noose). By keeping your hand at the level of your eyes, you create a space between the noose and your neck, allowing you to escape and render the rope useless.

Raoul and either Meg or Madame Giry. It's a flashforward.

Everyone in the movie does their own singing, except for Minnie Driver as Carlotta, who was dubbed by Margaret Preece; she had previously played the role on stage in London. Driver does sing the song "Learn to Be Lonely" during the end credits.

In this version, "This face which earned a mother's fear and loathing" is a birth defect, as in the original Leroux novel. Other adaptations have used other reasons (burns and acid, for example).

That was a judgement call on the part of the production team. From the Q&A with Joel Schumacher on the official website: "Even though the make-up in the stage show is grotesque, and very much a copy of the Lon Chaney make-up, I felt the audience is smarter than a lot of obvious prosthetics. The Phantom is very disfigured and the right side of his face is quite tragic. Christine, however, always looks past that and views him with compassion as she sings, 'This haunted face holds no horror for me now / It's in your soul that the true distortion lies.' I did not want to bring you 'Freddy Krueger Goes to the Opera!'"

From a costume designer in the Notes section of the official movie website: "Like the design of the Phantom's costume and mask, his underlying physical deformity had to be rendered convincingly, without alienating the audience in the process. We didn't want his disfigurement to be horribly grotesque. It was about trying to find the real person behind the mask. We want the audience to see his attractiveness, his anger and his vulnerability." Shircore, an Oscar winner in 1999 for her work on Elizabeth, based her design for the Phantom's disfigurement on a medical condition, underscoring the character's background as a misunderstood former sideshow freak. A life cast was made of Butler's face, from which gelatin prosthetics were created and then applied during a four hour process.

However, fans have pointed out that in that time period, far worse deformities would have been seen every day on the street, ranging from skin diseases to combat-related injuries to birth defects. In the show, Christine sings of the Phantom, "Distorted, deformed, it was hardly a face," which some feel should have been rewritten or excised given the decision to minimize the Phantom's deformities. Scholars of circus and sideshow history have pointed out that such a relatively mild condition would in no way have qualified someone as a circus freak.

The Phantom has access to many costumes, wigs, make up, and prosthetics, which can be seen in his lair. The dark and slicked-back hair was a wig; you can see the Phantom adjusting it before 'Don Juan Triumphant'. What you see after the Phantom's "un-masking" is what he really looks like, without any prosthetics, wigs, make up, or a mask to cover his deformities.

There is only one ring, the ring Raoul gave to Christine. According to the scene description in the script during the final lair scene - "He holds up the ring he tore from her neck." So yes, it is in fact the ring Raoul gave Christine which the Phantom then took from her during the Masquarade scene.

Joel Schumacher wanted to reduce the age of the characters for increased audience appeal. Crawford and Brightman were to appear in the film 15 years ago; as the character of Christine in the novel is 16 years old, Sarah Brightman is now too old for the part. Schumacher reduced the ages of the characters still further. There is a secondary reason to this, too. Crawford and Brightman were originally meant to be in the film when it was first written, however, due to time restraints, personal matters and other projects that Webber had to contribute himself to, the film was placed on hold until it was at a time where Crawford and Brightman were either no longer interested or too busy to dedicate themselves to the film.

According to the scene desription in the script - "She calmly puts the ring on her finger and kisses him full on the lips. The Phantom is stunned. Then, she leans toward him and embraces him again. But this time the kiss is long and deep. A lover's kiss. As it ends, they look straight into each others' eyes. The Phantom is crying, devastated. He has never known human love. Christine's gesture - her sacrifice and at the same time commitment - are too much for this tragic man to bear."

In the original Leroux novel, and in most adaptations of the story, the Phantom's name is Erik. However, in the stage musical and this movie he is simply known as The Phantom.

The music box was something the Phantom made for himself (suggested from the toy he had at the gypsy freak show). It played for Christine when she woke up in the Phantom's lair, and it played for the Phantom after he let Christine go.

What does OG mean?

Opera Ghost. The title is used more commonly in Leroux's novel. In the theatre the ghost is the person who pays the wages. "When will the ghost walk?" means "When will we be paid?".

What does PTO mean?

PTO could be an acronym for "Phantom of The Opera" that the Phantom sometimes uses in his notes, or it could stand for "Please Turn Over".

How old is Christine?

In the movie, Christine was born in 1854 and died in 1917. The events of the story take place in 1870, making Christine 16.

They deliberately put the mask on that side for the poster/cover to make the layout work better. Some could argue that perhaps they were looking into a mirror and thus had a reversed reflection.

Pandora plays an intriguing role in Greek mythology. According to the most well known legend, she was the first woman, created by Zeus, the ruler of the gods. Zeus was assisted in his task by other Greek deities, including Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, who used her powers to bestow upon Pandora grace and loveliness; Hermes, messenger of the gods, gave Pandora persuasion; and Apollo, god of music and the arts, favored the woman with musical skill. Because of the gifts of the gods, Pandora was very attractive - her name even means "all gifts". However, Pandora had a flaw. She was curious. When she encountered a jar that belonged to Epimetheus, she could not resist learning about its mysterious contents, and so she therefore opened it. This jar contained all of the evils, which were then released into the world. The only thing that remained in the jar was hope. She, as the first woman, created after man, is sometimes compared to Eve in Hebrew myth. (Source). Thus, Christine is the 'Pandora' of the story because, in her curiosity, she unmasked the Phantom, releasing his underlying anger.

"Don Juan Triumphant"

Don Juan Tenorio is the subject of a morality play "El Burlador De Sevilla" by Tirso De Molina (1571?-1648), written to illustrate the mistake of too much faith. In the original play, Don Juan thinks he can do as he pleases, with plenty of time to repent and be forgiven before his death. This is a fatal miscalculation. Don Juan has made more than a thousand sexual conquests, but while preparing to seduce Doa Ana, he is discovered by her father, the Commander, who challenges him to a duel. Don Juan kills the Commander and escapes. Don Juan later passes the tomb of Ana's father, graced by a statue of that dead commander. The statue speaks, warning Don Juan that he will be punished for his wickedness. The statue offers his hand and Don Juan, fearless to the last, takes it. The statue takes Juan's hand in an unbreakable grip. A fiery pit opens and the statue drags Don Juan down into Hell, with no time to repent. The story has been retold in a play by Moliere (``The Stone Feast,'' 1665), a long poem by Byron (``Don Juan,'' 1819-24), an opera by Mozart (``Don Giovanni,'' 1787) and in a four-act play by George Bernard Shaw ("Man and Superman"). The third act of the Shaw play, frequently presented alone as "Don Juan in Hell" is the Shavian notion of what the main characters, Juan, Ana, and the Commander might discuss with the Devil. Source.

Is there a sequel?

Yes. Andrew Lloyd Webber has written a sequel called Love Never Dies. The Australian production was filmed and out on DVD/Blu-Ray

No, he isn't. During Down Once More, he sings, "This face that condemns me to wallow in blood has also denied me the joys of the flesh." He's a virgin.

It means the Phantom is still alive and still loves Christine.

There are many differences. For example, in the musical, the story occurs in 1881, while the movie takes place in 1870. In the movie, the ages are all shifted to be much younger than in the book or on stage. On stage and in the novel, Christine and Raoul are in their 20's, Phantom in his late 40's-50's. Mme. Giry was never Christine's caretaker in the stage musical, and her relationship to the Phantom is never fully explained. In the musical, he is given a back-story (albeit briefly) much closer to that in the book, of a man who has traveled widely for much of his life and who helped to actually build the opera house. In the musical's "Think of Me", the backdrop falls, but it doesn't actually hit Carlotta as it does in the 2004 film, it just frightens her. Many of the costumes are different, and given more detail in the movie. In the stage show, the Phantom always wears a 'white tie', i.e., a white bow tie, shirt and waistcoat and a black tuxedo as well as a large black fedora, which is completely missing from the movie. In the musical, there is no horse in the scene where the Phantom leads Christine to his underground lair. In the ballet scene of "Il Muto", the stage version has the Phantom's shadow behind the backdrop, scaring the dancers. The movie doesn't have this.

Many of the Phantom's actions in the stage show are not explained, giving him a more ghostly persona. In the movie, however, most of his actions are shown/explained to emphasize that he is simply a man, not a ghost, i.e. in the stage show, he 'magically' makes Carlotta sound like a frog and laughs maniacally when Carlotta starts croaking. In the movie, we are shown the Phantom swapping Carlotta's throat spray in order to achieve this effect. Other examples of this are indicated by an asterisk (*). The chandelier drops after "All I Ask of You" at the end of Act 1 on stage, directly after the lyric "all that the Phantom asked of you!", instead of after "The Point Of No Return" as in the movie. This also prompts a lyric change in Masquerade from "...to the new chandelier!" to "...to our friends who are here!" The chandelier in the movie is considerably larger than on stage and of a different design whereas the stage version is very similar to the chandelier at the Paris Opera House seen here. On stage, the chandelier's drop narrowly misses the 'curtain call' of the cast of 'Il Muto' as they jump out of the way. However, the only damage done is to the chandelier whereas, in the movie, the chandelier sets fire to the Opera Populaire.

In 'Masquerade', the costumes are very bright and colorful in the stage versions, with people dressed as animals, clowns, and other creatures, including a costume very similar to the monkey on the music box complete with symbols. In the musical, the costumes are simplified, more ballgowns than costumes, and primarily black, white, and gold, giving it a more orderly and elegant effect. Managers Andre and Firmin dress in skeletal costumes on stage but dress in different costumes in the movie. Also, a reprise of "Notes/Prima Donna" that takes place after "Masquerade" was edited down and then rearranged throughout the movie, as were many other "Notes" scenes. The Red Death costume on stage has a full skull mask with moving jaw, a big red fedora with a plume, and is generally a much more ornate and theatrical costume than seen in the film version, complete with cloaks and a staff.* The mirrored room beneath the staircase is not featured in the stage musical. (This mirrored room was put in the movie as a reference to the Phantom's torture room in the Leroux novel.) The original reprise of "Notes" was combined with "Why So silent?"

A rehearsal scene of "Don Juan Triumphant" is omitted, in which the cast go through their first play-through of the show but don't take it seriously, and Piangi can't sing the part until the Phantom possesses the piano and everyone suddenly sings perfectly. * In the stage version of the cemetery confrontation, the Phantom conjures up lightning and shoots fireballs from his staff instead of sword fighting with Raoul.* In "Don Juan Triumphant," the Phantom does not wear a stylised Latin outfit but instead wears a cloak completely over his body and head. There are no flamenco dancers in "Don Juan" / "The Point of No Return" in the stage version as the scene is set in a banquet hall with the cast wearing traditional costumes. The movie version is set in a set which looks like Hades and has a Latin feel.

The Phantom is far more deformed in the stage version than in the movie. In the movie he has bumpy, discolored skin and thinning hair. In the stage version, he has giant cracks in his skull, wispy hair, one of his eyes is whited out, giant swollen lips, burns, cuts and generally more deformation.* When unmasked in "The Point of No Return", he runs off out of sight with Christine instead of dropping through a trap door. Instead of smashing a mirror and leaving through a secret passage after Christine and Raoul leave, the Phantom sits in his throne, and covers himself with his cape. Meg is the first to arrive in the lair, and lifts the cape from the throne, to reveal that the Phantom has disappeared, leaving only the mask. After "Masquarade" in the stage version, the actual Phantom runs off stage in a flash of darkness as a double appears at the top of the staircase and runs up the stairs to give the illusion that the Phantom apparrated. In the movie, he drops through a hole in the floor and Raoul follows him with a sword. However, the hole leads to a circle of mirrors planted by the Phantom and Raoul does not land a blow. There is no such confrontation in the stage version.*

The stage version and movie soundtrack do not use the same lyrics for "Think of Me." During the reprise of "Angel of Music" ("Wandering Child") in the graveyard seen in the stage version, the Phantom is on top of the tomb and Christine is singing directly to him. In the film version, he is unseen but heard from within her father's tomb, while a red light grows from within it. In the stage version, Raoul presents his plan to trap the Phantom during his opera in front of all of the main characters, causing a scene in which Carlotta accuses Christine of plotting the whole Phantom hoax for her personal gain and Christine refuses to go along with the plan. This scene is following by the rehearsal in which the Phantom 'possesses' the piano. Pieces of this scene are used in different spots in the movie, but some of it is cut out.

Several characters from the book are changed or completely excluded in the Webber version. In the book, Raoul has an older brother, Comte Phillippe de Chagny. He dies while trying to find Raoul in the Phantom's lair; the police suspect Raoul. Mamma Valerius, Christine's adopted mother and a profoundly naiive influence on Christine, suggests to the young girl that she ask the mysterious voice singing in her room if it might not be the voice of the Angel of Music, sent to her by her dead father. Of course, the "Angel" agrees. The "Daroga," a retired Persian cheif of police, has followed Erik to Paris from his native land and regards it as his duty to mitigate Erik's bad behaviour. Without his help Raoul would never have succeeded in rescuing Christine. And Mme Giry, in the book, is not the ballet mistress, but the keeper of various boxes, including the Ghost's own: Box Five on the Grand Tier. She is his go-between with the managers, but is convinced that the Ghost is, in fact, a ghost. Meg is her daughter, but is only a simple ballet girl and has no connection to Christine. Buquet (who is never seen alive in the book) was not a letch, but rather well-loved by all; but his curiosity led him into a trap. Piangi is not in the book at all, and when the Phantom kidnaps Christine from the stage, he only drugs those he needs out of his way, rather than killing them.

In the book, Christine is a member of the chorus who occasionally takes on larger (but not starring) roles, not a dancer. In the movie the Phantom has watched over and guided Christine since she was a child. How long he has done so in the stage musical is not explicitly stated but seems to have been for a much shorter time. In the book he first contacted Christine only about six months prior to the events in the book. The stage show and movie take place in the fictional "Opera Populaire" whereas the book takes place in the Palais Garnier, the home of France's National Academy of Music, in Paris. The real opera house does not have dormitories; in the book, Christine shared a small apartment with Mamma Valerius and her maid.

When the Phantom first opens the mirror and steals Christine, she is expecting her angel. In the book, however, when she sees the masked man before her in the dark tunnel, she believes that she has been snatched out of her angel's arms by the terrifying opera ghost. She panics so much that he partially sedates her. During the catacomb scene, the first time the Phantom takes Christine down to his lair, the horse he puts Christine on for some of the journey is a black and nameless stallion. In the book, he is a white stolen prize stallion from the Opera Populaire stables called Cesar.

In the movie, the Phantom has a lair next to a lake, from which huge candelabras arise. In his lair, he has a shrine for Christine, a small room containing the wax figure of her wearing a wedding dress and veil, his bedroom with a kind of bowl shaped bed with burgundy bedding, and an area with his organ, drawings of Christine and the sheets of music he composed. In the book. Her bed is fancifully carved in the shape of a bird and surrounded by drifting curtains. In the book, Erik's underground home is hidden in the outer wall of the lake, five stories below ground. Once inside it appears to be a perfectly normal middle-class apartment, albeit without any windows. Specifically mentioned are two bedrooms, a dining room and an ensuite bathroom. Christine's room is furnished with perfectly ordinary furniture; the Phantom, however, sleeps in a coffin on a dais, and has the notes of "Dies Irae" repeated around the top edge of the room.

Christine faints in the movie when the Phantom shows her his wax figure of her (which is actually Emmy Rossum made up to look waxy and porcelain) in a wedding dress and veil. In the novel, he apparently drugs her on the way to his lair. Once there, she revives and becomes perfectly lucid. At one other point (in the very beginning) she does faint, but it is after her first performance when the audience overwhelms her with their applauding; she awakens in her room to unexpectedly find her childhood friend, Raoul, with her. In the book Erik, when he firsts brings her to his home, explicitly confesses his deceit to her and admits that he is not an angel nor a ghost, but only a man, and that he loves her. He never does do this in either the movie or the musical.

In the book, the graveyard scene is quite different: Christine is told that if she travels to her father's modest grave, her "Angel" (for she does not know, at this point, that he is just a man) will play for her on her father's violin. She does so, hears the music, and leaves the cemetery; she is unaware that Raoul has followed her, and knows nothing of the (much briefer) confrontation between him and Erik, in which Raoul simply gets a brief glimpse of his unmasked face before he is knocked out.

Erik's disfigurement is a birth defect in both the book and film. Joseph Buquet, whom he hangs later on in the movie and musical (in the book his body is discovered in the first chapter), describes his face with "Like yellow parchment is his skin. A great black hole serves as the nose that never grew." When Christine unmasks Erik in the book, he gets angry and grabs her hands, then forces her nails into off his own deathly skin. His disfigurement is far more extreme than in the Webber version: he is extremely skinny and looks more like a withered corpse than a living man. Christine describes his hands as "smelling like death" and "skeleton-like". In the movie, the Phantom's disfigurement is only on the right side of his face and up the side of his head into his hair; he seems to otherwise be perfectly normal. In his unmasking in the reprise of "All I Ask Of You", his black wig comes off, revealing the deformity of the skin on his head, cheek and forehead, especially his eye. In the stage show the deformity is slightly larger (hence the slightly larger mask that covers his entire nose, with the drooping, malformed lips beneath), but covers basically the same area, more or less. However, it is far more extreme.

At the end of the book, unlike the musical, there is no doubt that "Erik is dead." The movie heavily implies that he did, in fact, escape and survive. But in the book there was no avenging mob to escape; he simply dies of a broken heart, several weeks after releasing Christine and returning the ring he had given her, which she lost as she kissed Raoul on the roof. He asks only that she return the ring once he's dead and that she bury him; Leroux's description of the body he found shows that she kept her promise.

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