Il Fantasma dell'Opera
The Phantom of the Opera
Giuseppe Colombo, Aron Sipos, Claudio Argento (executive) for Medusa Produzione, Reteitalia
directed by Dario Argento
starring Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano, Nadia Rinaldi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, István Bubik, Lucia Guzzardi, Aldo Massasso, Zoltan Barabas, Gianni Franco, David D'Ingeo, Kitty Kéri, John Pedeferri, Leonardo Treviglio, Massimo Sarchielli, Luis Molteni, Enzo Cardogna, Itala Békés, Claudia Kemones, Csilla Ward, Reka Pozsgay, Ferenc Deák B., Rozso Ludvigh, David Drucker, Gábor Harsai, Balázs Tardy, SAndor Bse, Iván Dengyel, György Szakaly, Ferenc Ratkai, Podporina Ilona, Frigyes Hallósi, Istvan Szöczey, Szabo Bente Robert, Zoltán Rajkai, Tania Nagel, Rodrigo Crespo, Zsolt Anger, Zsolt Derecskei, Tibor Nemes, Lásló Pethö, Deniel Zdroa, Bela Nemeth
screenplay by Gérard Brach, Dario Argento, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, music by Ennio Morricone, special effects by Sergio Stivaletti
Phantom of the Opera
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In this version of the well-known story, the Phantom was abandoned by
his parents as a baby, but adopted by rats who brought the little boy up
in the catacombs right beneath the Paris Opera. Now the Phantom's a man
(and played by Julian Sands), and he roams the opera-house, killing many a
man who have wronged his folks, the rats. Then however, young singer
Christine (Asia Argento) catches his attention, and he starts wooing her
and communicating with her telepathically.
Christine though is a mere understudy, and the diva of the current
production, Carlotta (Nadia Rinaldi) sees to it that the poor girl never
gets a chance to prove her talent ... so small accidents start to happen
Carlotta has to miss a show and Christine is called in for rehearsal ...
but she's so nervous that she faints.
The Phantom takes Christine to his underground hideout, which is beyond
an underground lake, and their romance blossoms, and soon enough they have
sex. The Phantom though has not yet given up his plans to make Christine
the star she deserves to be, so at one point, during one of Carlotta's
performances, he even has a chandelier crashing onto the stage, and he
sees to it that Carlotta is met with a little accident ...
Christine however is far from grateful, she despises him for his
barbaric actions, and she ultimately leaves him, but when she's back at
the opera she learns that she is already set to take over from Carlotta -
and she meets Baron De Chagny (Andrea Di Stefano), who confesses his
undying love to her ... and she gives in to his advances on the condition
that he saves her from the Phantom.
Christine's debut as a diva though turns into chaos when a beggar
identifies her as the Phantom's bride - on stage - and the Phantom
snatches her right from the stage to take her back with him, followed by
an angry mob, and even the police. Only Baron De Chagny though is able to
catch up with the Phantom and Christine, and when she sees the two men
fighting over her, she finds herself torn between them ... until the
Phantom gives her up in order to save her, and while Christine and the
Baron row off in the Phantom's boat, the Phantom himself is killed by an
angry mob ...
In a way, Gaston Leroux's novel Phantom of the Opera is one of
the oldest and the key sources of serial killer cinema, especially the giallo
(the distinctively Italian version of serial killer cinema) and the
slasher movie - and since Dario Argento was/is one of the key figures of giallo
and had a great influence on slasher cinema, it seems only logical that he
would eventually adapt the novel. The outcome however is less than
satisfying, a diffuse mixture of period piece, romance and fantasy, with a
few shocks thrown in but completely devoid of the director's personal
style, with Leroux's classic, straightforward source material twisted and
turned around until it has become something qutie ridiculous.
A total disappointment actually, which is a double surprise, because in
1989, Argento made another film, the underrated Opera, that, while
not being an official adaptation of Phantom of the Opera, stays
much closer to the novel and is much more effective. The best thing one
can say about Argento's Phantom of the Opera on the other hand is that
Asia Argento (the director's daughter) is pretty good in the lead role of
the diva torn between two lovers - but not even she can save this mess.
PS: I might have to stress that normally I'm a huge fan of Dario
Argento, only with this film he has completely let me down.