The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD discs' started by The News Bot, Jan 6, 2012.


    1. The News Bot

      The News Bot
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      Reviewed by Chris McEneany, 6th January 2012.
      As well-known as the story is, and as culturally significant and populist as Andrew Lloyd Webber has enabled it to become, there is still much to discover in the original film adaptation of Leroux’s classic tale of dark-hearted obsession and horror. Not the least of which is Lon Chaney’s staggeringly iconic portrayal of the disfigured and maddened composer and how this brings a warped energy to his reign of terror over the Paris Opera House. His persona looms like a great shadow-spider over the entire film, often masking, appropriately enough, the more formulaic and wooden elements of the narrative. That he is able to convey a distinct humanity beneath the monstrousness is the key to making us care what happens as the story hurtles towards a grand guignol final act of fiendish death-traps and heinously heartbroken plots. The unmasking sequence, alone, is totally deserving of its legendary status in the genre. And I love the fact that there are so many cult-cherished stories and characters that owe a debt to the Phantom's peculiar style, let alone his doomed love-quest. I'll bet there aren't that many who ever picked-up on the analogies that bleed through into King Kong.

      The film is a pulp cliffhanger … which is the aspect that newcomers tend not to realise. But this also represents the great impetus of its infernal momentum. It is melodramatic, of course, but far less overwrought that many would imagine, and far more exciting than many more would expect. Thus, the movie remains a classic in a great many ways, although it is interesting to peel behind the polished veneer to discover the secrets of a very troubled production. That the film was able to surmount these concerns and go on to become a cherished beacon of grandstanding fantasy and gothic mystery owes as much to Chaney’s flamboyantly demonstrative performance and the deliciously moody set design as it does to Leroux's literary foundation.

      Image’s release of the film can boast both the original 1925 version as well as two revamped and studio modified 1929 reissues. Although the original is only to be seen in SD, which is understandable given the source, it makes a wonderful companion-piece to the nicely improved and spruced-up later takes. In one package, you can find the version that best suits your mood, although all maintain that inimitable and immortal performance from Chaney. There is obviously damage to be seen on the various prints, but each still looks astonishingly good, and it is nice that we are given a choice of soundtracks too. Not all suit the atmospherics … but, once again, this comes down to personal taste, and you can't argue with a set that gives you a slew of options – even if the menu selection is a bit askew. I wish we had more extra features, though. The commentary is excellent, but I'm surprised that Image couldn't have put together a full-on retrospective making of for such a widely acknowledged film treasure.

      It comes highly recommended.


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    2. KiLLiNG-TiME

      KiLLiNG-TiME
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      An excellent & in depth review of one of my fav films of all time along with many other older BW's thank you, i think i shall be upgrading my DVD soon! well i will if we get a R2 version that is ... bugger :facepalm:
       

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