Burt Lancaster, Teri Polo and Charles Dance star in Academy Award-winning director Tony Richardson's stunning, Golden Globe-nominated television miniseries. The classic tale of a hideously disfigured man who haunts Paris's... more » subterranean labyrinths while harboring an all-consuming passion for a beautiful opera singer continues to enchant audiences. With its timeless story, "The Phantom of the Opera" endures as not only a deeply touching love story, but as a chilling spectacle of desire and vengeance played out against the grandeur and decadence of 19th century France.« less
The most romantic and operatic version of "Phantom"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This two-part televison version of "The Phantom of the Opera" is a mixed bag to be sure, but it does have its moments. Clearly this is a post-Lloyd Webber version of "Phantom," highlighting the romance between the title character (Charles Dance) and Christine (Terri Polo) even more than the Broadway show. For once, the love triangle between teacher, pupil and Philippe (Adam Stroke), the Count de Chagny, is realistic; which is to say, Christine really has a choice between the two men who command her affection. Of course, the paradox is that the more romantic a figure the Phantom becomes, the less he can be seen as a deadly maniac roaming at will through the Paris Opera House. The result is that when this Phantom kills intruders into his subterranean realm, I found it hard to believe because it went against Erik's character (cf. the 1989 film version with Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame). One of the strengths of the film is the use it makes of the opera part of the title. There is a wonderful scene early when Christine has come to the big city and has joined the chorus of the Opera. One evening she is signing at a local tavern and the managers of the Opera House convince Carlotta (Andréa Ferréol), the egotistical diva, to go up and sign with the girl. However, it does not take long for Christine to blow Carlotta away, and when the diva flees from the stage we have clear proof as to who has more talent. The finale of the mini-series involves a production of Charles Gounod's "Faust," which is one of the best uses of an opera in a film since a production of "La Traviata" popped up in "Pretty Woman." The choice of "Faust" is a masterstroke, not just because the opera is actually sung in French, but because there are some strong parallels between the story of Faust and that of the Phantom. This allows for a rather surprising and haunting use of the opera's climatic aria.I know there will be strong disagreement on this score, but I also appreciated this version's approach to the Phantom's disfigurement. There is a pivotal scene early on when Christine actually tries to persuade Erik to remove his mask, maintaining that she can look at whatever is beneath it with eyes of love. When the mask is removed the focus is not on his face but rather on Christine's as she bases from shock to horror to senselessness. It is that look, along with Erik's cry of anguish, that carries the scene. More importantly, it sets up an even better scene at the end of the film. That first scene is clearly influenced by the Broadway version, where the audience never sees the Phantom's face at that point, just Christine, rather than the immortal scene where Mary Philbin unmasked Lon Chaney in the classic silent version. Meanwhile, the film's conclusion actually harkens back to Gaston Leroux's original novel with regards to how Christine conquers Erik.Editing this film down a bit would certainly be helpful; the four-hour mini-series loses about an hour once you take out the commercials, but could benefit from losing another half-hour or so. The performances are competent, with Dance evincing charm as the Phantom without a real undercurrent of menace. Polo is a tad too emotional at time and has a lot of lip-synching to do with all the opera singing, but there is an earnestness that matches the character. Stroke has the unenviable tasks of trying to convince both Christine and the audience that she should pick his character instead of the Phantom. Most of the supporting cast are assigned various roles of comic relief with French accents, while Burt Lancaster gets to bring some dignity to the proceedings as the former manager of the Paris Opera House who knows more about the Phantom than anyone knows. The key thing is that this 1990 version of "The Phantom of the Opera" is not going to be the first one you view. You have to see Lon Chaney's silent version and at least listen to the Broadway musical (paying copious attention to the libretto so you know exactly what is happening). The 1943 Claude Reins film involving acid being thrown and music being stolen is optional. But the more you are familiar with the various tellings of this tale, the more you can enjoy what writer Arthur L. Kopit and director Tony Richardson ("Tom Jones")."
ravenl4 | Birmingham, AL | 01/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a little sad to say that this is the reason why I got a DVD player - buying the movie on DVD -before I had any way of watching it. Why you might ask, because ... I saw the movie on TV way back in 95 or 94 (?)and fell in love. Just fell in love with the story, the movie everything. Then I became slightly obsessed, but that's not the point - back to the movie. The acting is good, the singing incredible, the scenery great. There is nothing wrong with this movie, nothing at all, in fact - it's the best out there on the Phantom. (on a sidenote - if you are looking for a good book to read on this, read Susan Kay's Phantom) anyway again, back to the movie, you won't be sorry buying it. Just buy it - and watch it, and fall in love."
Charles Dance's Fascinating Phantom
Linda Blood | Marblehead, MA USA | 04/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh my goodness, Charles Dance as Erik!!! The Phantom of the Opera's metamorphosis from an object of horror to a romantic hero can probably be credited to two extraordinary actors: Michael Crawford and Charles Dance. In this non-musical (unless you count that gorgeous duet from 'Faust') made-for-TV version, Dance's Erik has been reconfigured so that the beauty of his artist's soul encompasses his whole being, his disfigurement concealed behind a series of elegant masks. Tall and elegant, with a cat-like walk and a wry sense of humor, Dance does some of his most effective acting with his wonderfully expressive eyes. Moving effortlessly from swashbuckling action and urbane wit to heartbreaking vulnerability, his Erik is so magnetic that it seems incomprehensible that Terri Polo's brave and charming Christine would choose her childish, petulant boyfriend Raoul over him. Polo has some lovely and heartfelt scenes, especially her tearful farewell to Erik, and Burt Lancaster plays his father with a sad and gentle world-weariness that conveys his impending sense of doom. The production is opulent and, more than any other I've seen, brings the viewer inside the world of the great Paris Opera. But Dance is the soul of this production and he will steal your heart in scene after scene before he finally gets around to breaking it."
Perfect in every way.
christinedaye | Tallahassee, FL | 12/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are so many things about this movie that made it so utterly beautiful. I bought a DVD player just for this movie. The scenes are enrapturing, the characterizations perfect, the singing expertly dubbed. The first time I saw this movie was with a friend; who, as a fellow Phantom Phan, told me that this was a must view. I sat down with an open mind, and not only laughed, cried, and gasped...but I was completely taken into this magnificent and so deliberately intricate plot. Never have I sympathized with so many characters, understood them so much as I did for these. Charles Dance potrays a romantic, even sensual phantom, a very rare find in the horror movie retells of this old classic story. You never see the Phantom's face, but you don't need to. Many times as he's starting to take off the mask I thought there would be a glimpse...but there was always nothing. That is what makes a good movie. A movie where we can always wonder, and not be only dumbstruck at makeup and special effects.The fact that this is filmed at the real Paris Opera House simply left me in awe. The few scenes where you see actual corridors and staircases from the monument give it a sense of reality...something no other Phantom movie has ever given me. This is perfect. Five stars. It would be so much more if possible. There is no flaw in this movie. It's simply a must."
Dont pay any attention to the other reveiws!!
S. Alcala | USA | 01/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The TV series was an excellent adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. It is a little more scenic and dramatic than some other plays and movies but the story is compelling and original. Charles Dance (The Phantom) does an excellent performance with his slow and methodical movements. Every time he approaches Christine he shows how intense his feelings are towards her and leaves you feeling breathless. Raul's character does not appear as much in this story as I would like but his presence is always felt. It was an interesting twist with the Phantoms father and the real life story behind how the phantom was created and his mother. All of these seperate stories are really never told in other plays and Movies.
Some of the other reveiws are to analytical about The Phantom movies and TV shows. They dont actually sit down and enjoy them for what they are; which is "excellent entertainment". I highly reccommend this one to any one whom wants a more romantic veiw of the story. This particular one is long but it leaves a sense of wonder at the end, Is he alive? or dead?"