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20 June 2011

[Silent Film Marathon] 5# The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Rupert Julian

Raymond L. Schrock, Elliott J. Clawson
 Runtime: 103 Minutes
Genre: Thriller, Horror
This as of many of the classic silent film stories, is an iconic story that soon became renowned in the world of cinema. Lon Chaney, the silent film horror classic stars as the Phantom in this thrilling story of a tortured and twisted soul. Here is yet another inspirational film that went on to be a concept repeated and culturally referred in the future. It’s an exciting story based within an Opera House in Paris where the Phantom lies, and warns the owners not to put on certain people in the act with his obsessive love for one of the singers called, Christine Daae, who is also our leading actress in the story. Decades later the film still manages to throw a scare at the audience with the disfigured face of the phantom and the pace in which the action lies. With brilliant performances from Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin, The Phantom of the Opera remains a classic thriller/horror film to enjoy.



Christine Daae is a performer at an Opera House in Paris and has a lover by the name of Raoul. Threatening letters are sent by the phantom to the new owners of the Opera House not to have Carlotta go on stage but Christine. Failing to take this warning by the Phantom things begin to happen. A falling chandelier at first and then Christine is led into the secret passage way in her dressing room with the Phantom who we learn has been talking t Christine for a while and is the reason she is so popular at the Opera House. The Phantom whose name is soon unveiled as Erik takes her 5 cellars underground to show his love of her. The city is soon on a hunt to get the Phantom in this thrilling escapade.


Here we have a character that has been chewed up and spat back out again by society and lives n darkness, which soon became captivating theme for many stories. Erik the Phantom is almost a character you feel sorry for if it weren’t for his twisted ways, but you can see why he has become this. His dark life and disfigured face that scares Christine hurts him so and really Erik is a touching character who only wants someone to love him. It’s one of those basic characterisations that soon came to develop over the years and is an important concept in Cinema. 

I must admit I was impressed by the make-up achievement in this film with the horrifying and disfigured face of the Phantom. It isn’t overdone like todays horror make-up, but gritty, haunting and chilling. In 1925 this film premiered and the iconic masking scene, which was one of the film’s finest moments, made the patrons screamed and fainted at the shock of the Phantom’s face and got changed to a slightly different unmasking scene. Believe me, the scene is quite a shock, but audiences of this time must have been very surprised at the unmasking. Not only was the make-up great, the performances were wonderfully dramatic. Lon Chaney seems is a great actor because of the psychotic and astounding look he gives in his performances. This is the only film I have seen him in, but I have seen screenshots of his other films and he seems like a fine actor. Not only was Chaney brilliant, we have Philbin, as Christine whose performance seems over blemished towards the end, but that is what’s needed to express a characters feelings through mime. Overall everyone gave a delightful performance in this film. The one downside to this film is the recycled audio track. We have a 20-25 minute sound track that just seems to repeat itself which was a tad annoying.
The Iconic unmasking scene.

Since the first adaption here, we have had over 5 different films through the 80 years and several Broadway/stage musicals. It is truly an iconic film with grand performances and a undying story to remember. Apparently there is 17 minutes of colour footage in it’s original release which is quite surprising for the film’s time. One of my other favourite scenes is the Bal Masque Scene. This is the scene that was restored in colour by Technicolor and when I was watching the film, this scene seemed to be the brightest and looked like it was colour. And colour it was, but very weak. It’s been 86 years since this film was released and since then it has created a legacy. Overall the Phantom of the Opera still remains it’s thrilling strength and remains a classic film.
The restored technicolour version of the scene.


Overall: 8/10

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