I went to see the new film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera last night. I love this musical – it is one of his best, and certainly the last good work that he has done; I last saw it a little over five years ago in New York, and I was possibly a little concerned that there was no way that this film would match up to the stage original.

I was wrong. I loved it. The cinematography was fantastic, the costumes, and sets lavish, and the music (as you might expect) superb…

Where I was a little unsure of the film was in the additional *explanation scene* by Madame Giry in the middle of the film. I liked it’s presence in the film, in that it did explain who the Phantom was and why he came to be living in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, however I would have preferred it to have been sung. Maybe a duet between Madame Giry and Raoul, or Madame Giry and her daughter Meg? For me, the beautiful thing about Phantom – the musical is that it is one complete ‘operatic’ whole, and so in the film, with the exception of the voiced prologue in the auction (which has it’s own deft musical rhythm about it), the periods of plain dialogue sit uneasily between the music.

A concern that I did have – and this is because I know the musical well, and have seen it on the stage was the chandalier falling scene to the end and the final conflict. There were moments during the second half the film when I was thinking: where’s the the chandalier scene? How can they have cut that from the film? But I know why they did. In theatre it is the shocking and dramatic conclusion to Act One. In the movie, were it not moved, it would have sat uncomfortably in the middle of the film with no easy way to move on. The only affect that moving it has is the cutting of one line, a reference in Monsieur André’s and Monsieur Firmin’s Masquerade song: Noe more notes, no more ghost, here’s a health, here’s a toast to a prosperous year, to a new chandalier. The loss of four simple words is a not much of a price to pay to making a single film rather than two acts of a stage production.

Emmy Rossum was well-cast as the young, innocent Christine confused by love for her father, love for her Angel of Music, hate for the murdering Phantom and love for her childhood sweetheart Raoul. Patrick Wilson, was also good as the young, rich aristocrat who steals Christine’s heart, however Gerard Butler as the Phantom was in my view, although very good, too young. The Phantom should be older, more affected by the pain of his circumstance: The world showed no compassion for me … especially, when, in the graveyard Christine falls under the disallusion that he he might be her father. There’s no way that in Gerard Butler’s portrayal that this is a realistic disillusion.

The additional scene at the end of the show, was a necessary improvement to the story to place space between the end of the story, and those ever-necessary opening titles. I don’t think any dialogue was uttered as the old, widowed Raoul takes the music box bought at the auction at the beginning of the story, to Christine’s grave. It’s a simple scene, shot as with all the 1917 scenes, in black and white, and allows for the story to be wrapped up – maybe even, finally for the compassion that the Phantom himself found lacking…

I’ll be wanting the dvd of this, no question. Actually, maybe it will be out in time for my birthday in May…?