Search - The Phantom of the Opera (1924) (Silent Film Classic) on DVD

The Phantom of the Opera (1924) (Silent Film Classic)
The Phantom of the Opera
Actors: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland
Directors: Lon Chaney, Edward Sedgwick, Ernst Laemmle, Rupert Julian
Genres: Classics, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
UR     2002     1hr 33min



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Movie Reviews

Wonderful DVD set from Milestone!
Missy H. | 05/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A MUST for all Phantom of the Opera lovers! I'd read other reviews comparing the restoration quality of the 1929 version vs. the storyline quality of the 1925 original print and I totally agree. However, the rarer 1925 print still looks much better than the inferior copies of the 1929 film that flooded the video market before Milestone thankfully came along with this great DVD set.

Along with extra features of rare footage, interviews, and photos, you can't help but wonder just how much greater this movie would've been under the overall competent direction it deserved instead of that from Rupert Julian. By the way, who was it that probably REALLY directed the unmasking scene? ;-)

Still, accompanied by beautifully eerie sets, shadowy lighting, and new orchestral scores, the timeless, shining jewel here is the incomparible genius Lon Chaney Sr. He IS the Phantom of the Opera; no other film "Phantom" has even come CLOSE to faithfully portraying the original character in Leroux's novel. Chaney's performance, above all, is what's kept the star shining of both the POTO story and his legendary film career.
Lon Chaney IS the Phantom
Nate Charlton | Santa Rosa, CA USA | 11/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For starters, I have only seen the flm proper (1996 Photoplay restoration of the 1929 reissue), and will only limit my review to that.

The film is absolutely PERFECT!!! The greatest of Universal's horror films. The atmosphere, color, performances, and the fact that THIS film inspired "Dracula," "Frankenstein," and all of the horor films made at the studio made in the 1930's and 40's make this an instant winner. Chaney is wonderful as the title role, and brings more depth to the character than most other performers. While Andrew Lloyd Webber kept the original ending and the emotional side to Erik, this film makes him less tragic, but more pitiful, as the death scene (combined with Carl Davis's wonderful 1996 re-score) makes anyone watching the film feel sorry for him. The way Chaney holds off the crowd with his gestures illustrates this as it perfectly shows that the Phantom knows how to manipulate people, and that he knows full well that he has sacrificed himself for Christine (I heard the 1925 version has a scene afterwards where Christine and Raoul take pity on him, which adds to the effect).

As for the restoration by Kenith Brownlow, many people point out the motion blur and the seemingly poor quality. This is not due to Milestone, as the restoration was made in 1996 (it's on the copyright and IMBd) using a wetplate process which has officially been out of style since the F.W. Murnau Stiftung decided to switch to digital for "Metropolis" in 2000. Many wetplate restorations have this problem, but this one happens to have the video transfer problem as well. The motion blur is partly caused by this, but other times, such as when Christine meets Erik and the unmasking, were MADE blurry to tone down the horror to make it palatable for 1925 moviegoers. While this may seem silly today, back then people fainted in this film and a typical horror film today would probably make people have heartattacks and have been banned and destroyed.

As for Carl Davis's music score, that is my favorite part of the entire film. I like to watch the movie JUST for this half the time. His work is wonderful, and even though I have seen another version with a surprisingly appropraite score (for a public domain video) with the actual arias from "Faust" dubbed in, this is still superior especially since Davis has been honored internationally for his work on silent film scores. Mary Fabian's sequence is wonderful, especially as the music builds up before the crash since it still follows the theme from the actual aria (as far as I can tell). Surprisingly this is actually one of Davis's more overlooked works with "The General," "The Thief of Baghdad" and "Intolerance" being more highly praised, which says a lot about the quality for THOSE scores.

Overall, I think anyone interested in owning or even just viewing the silent film version of Gaston Leroux's novel, get the Milestone Collection simply for the Photoplay Production restoraton.

Augmentation: Finally owning this edition of the DVD, I find I was correct in asserting that the Milsetone DVD has nothing to do with the "problems" with the blurriness, it is inherit in the restoration. While I have seen a "cleaner" looking version, in terms of blurriness, and its from the Eastman negative, the quality of the fotage was still significantly less than this version, due to the decaying of the negative, which is not nearly as prevelent here.

On the DVD itself, GET IT!!!! Although the 1925 version is VERY low in quality, it is so shockingly different, I don't know whether to say it's better, or just different enough to be considered a separate film! I haven't seen all of it in a single sitting (I hate the music, so it really turns me off. If only the Photoplay 1925 restoration made in conjunction with their more well known 1929 was used since it has tinting and Carl Davis's score), but it certainly seems to be just as good, but looser in editing. The soundtrack using the 1929 VitaPhone discs sounds really poor, largely due to the quality of Direct to Disc recordings, but also since it is REALLY slowed down, so I think they should create its own edit instead of editing it into the SILENT restoration. It is nice to know that at least they tried, and Carlotta can finally be heard for the first time. The bonus features are nice, but I have not had time to look at them all, and some seem a little too mundane compared to other bonus features I've seen on other films.

The DVD is the ONLY way to watch this film, so I highly recomend it."
One of the definitive `monster movies' in all of cinema...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 11/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've been a longstanding fan of `The Phantom of the Opera'. I've seen the stage play a record ten times, even being privileged enough to see it in Boston twice and once in New York. I've seen nearly every filmed version (I say nearly because I'm not for certain I've seen every television movie made) and I even really liked the 2004 big screen adaptation despite the fact that the leading man was dreadful.

This is, by far, the best film version.

There is just something about the silent film era that suits a story like `The Phantom of the Opera'. There is a Victorian anarchy that runs supreme in the air, giving this film a sense of elegant dread; a refined chaos. The silent era cinema completely captures that, giving an authentic realism to this ghastly tale.

What I love so much about this film is that they really took the time to make Erik (the Phantom) more than just a monster. I made the statement in my review of the revered 1933 film `King Kong' that they just made a superb monster film with no real emotional connection. That is not the case with `The Phantom of the Opera'. Yes, this is a superb monster film, but beyond that, it is a beautiful film about love, loss and the power of loneliness.

Lon Chaney IS the Phantom, with sincere terror and delicious sense of lovelorn absolution. Chaney transcends the character and gives a richly memorable performance that just illuminates the screen. Mary Philbin is stunning and very in tune with the sheer trancelike terror her character is experiencing. I personally loved the light in the eyes of Emmy Rossum in 2004, and may prefer her performance (the ONLY thing she's done right in her career, thanks to that AMAZING voice) but there are not enough good things to say about Philbin. I also really loved what Norman Kerry did with the stock character of Raoul. He really gave him a life all his own.

With a beautiful fusion of horror and romance (a sick perverse romance, but romance nonetheless), `The Phantom of the Opera' is a marvelous film. Restored in 1929 with an orchestral score that adds to the feelings of the opera house, this film is a must see for any fan of the story. The restoration is not always perfect, but whether your watching scenes in a crisp sepia, murky aqua or splashed over with faded colors, the fact remains that you are watching one of the best films ever filmed; period."