I was wearing a mask and a strapless black tuxedo dress and high heels. A man in a long nosed Venetian mask was playing the violin in a way I could watch and hear all night long. As I sat down at the table, placing my napkin in my lap, ready to hear all about Juvenile Diabetes, the thrilling dance scene from the masquerade ball in The Phantom of the Opera came on. It was beautiful and I was reminded that the movie lay on a shelf in my house, unseen, because I wanted to read the book first, which sat on another shelf in my house. When the night was over, having taken off my mask, trading my black dress for some pajamas, I climbed into bed with the book in hand and began.
Three days later I finished it and rewarded myself with the movie. This has been my most disappointing book in a long time, and for a classic too! It was released to American readers as a serial, much like The Count of Monte Cristo, which I had loved. It was a page turner- I wanted the riddle of the Opera Ghost to be solved, but much of my desire was based on the high expectation I have for classics that have withstood the test of time. I expected the ending to make it all worth it. But for me, and this may not be true for you, I have to resonate with at least one character. I have to be able to see the world as they do, to feel it as they do, to understand them as they understand themselves. I couldn’t do this with any character in the book. I didn’t understand the fascination Christine had for the OG, and was baffled by her behavior and Raoul’s continued dedication to her. In the end we finally glimpse the OG, know him as a real man, hear some of his story. There was a line after which I paused and for the first time felt something for the character. It was a singular event, not making the reading of three hundred pages worth it for one line’s worth of reflection.
Rewarding myself with the movie was like taking a steaming hot shower after going running on a summer afternoon in Texas. If you thought the book was bad…..see the movie. Or better yet skip them both: put on a mask, some high heels and a fancy dress, and dance the city down!
3 thoughts on “The Phantom of the Opera”
I love the Phantom of the Opera, book and movie! I had seen the movie first because I didn’t know there was a book until last year when my friend brought it in to school. I then borrowed it and dove in head first. It was awesome. The book I feel is better than the movie because it came first, but the movie has the music everyone loves. Now, I hear (read?) why you don’t like them, but it still is a good book whether or not you are able to relate to it. There are some weird, unexplained personality traits, but let me try and justify them:
-Raoul has known Christine since they were kids and may have even been childhood sweethearts. This means they have a deep connection and since they are older, they actually fall in love.
-Christine has this weird fascination with the Angel of Music because ever since she was 7 when her father died, she has been awaiting this angel. I don’t know why she thought the Phantom (all dark and Mr. Mysterioso) could be and angel. Angels are (typically presented in Hollywood) white and gold and usually glow and have giant feathered wings. Another thought that never occurred to me until now was that in the movie where Christine is singing Think Of Me (fav song;)), she is in a big white dress (that may or may not have feathers) looking beautiful and has this strange glow about her. Maybe the director was going for that Christine is the Angel of Music because many times the Phantom says, “I am your Angel of Music, come to me Angel of Music.” Just a theory.
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Rea, I love that you love it! I think it’s amazing how art (writing, music, movies especially) speak to people so differently. I get the Raoul/Christine connection, though I pitied Raoul and no one really wants to be pitied. The one that really stumped me was Christine going back to the OG despite the weirdness, the darkness- she even confesses that she is terrified of him and that she loves Raoul, but still she goes. It baffled me. It lost me there….
I’m glad it did not lose you! You were a more patient reader than me. 🙂
I like your thoughts on her dress in the movie- something to think about!
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The director of the movie said that Christine has this weird fascination for the spiritual things and maybe she thinks of the OG as “spiritual” because of all the mystery surrounding him