Cinema of Silence
A Lunch community devoted to classic silent films.
The Phantom of the Opera Ultimate Edition (front)

This is the 2-disc Ultimate Edition DVD of the classic 1925 film starring Lon Chaney as The Phantom.

< read all 2 reviews

The Captivating Masterpiece Revisited

  • Dec 2, 2010
**** out of ****

The original "Phantom of the Opera" film adaptation reminds me ever-so greatly of what it means to be both dramatic and atmospheric. So many films forget to include the ingredients that the filmmakers put on display here, resulting in (most of the time) a ridiculous mess. This may be the only perfect or perhaps even proper adaptation of the 1910's novel, although I'm open to whatever future adaptations the story can inspire. However, nothing can measure up to what has been done here. This is a shocking, powerful love story in which there is a love triangle, involving two men and a women; one of these men less handsome than the other. The film deals with the horrors of disfigurement as well as the emotional longings of a monster. There have been many imitators, both successful and unsuccessful, of such a story. One of them is the film adaptation of "V for Vendetta", which I now notice has intelligently borrowed themes similar to the ones in "Phantom of the Opera". I specifically note "V for Vendetta" because it is one of the most successful "imitators" (I don't really like referring to such a great movie as that) of "The Phantom of the Opera". Put aside the fact that this film has garnered a couple unsuccessful (or even some successful) remakes and watch the original with ease. It's hard to hate a film that you find beautiful; as it is difficult to find flaws in this film. Sure, sometimes you can see some unintended flaws in the frames...but come on, it's 1925. You can't expect it to be technically flawless. However, I say that it is. The film is a nice balance of impressive production design and smart story-telling, which is honestly the most uncommon thing in existence. Very few movies can focus on both things equally and get the film right the first time around. But this movie does just that. And that's why it is a masterpiece that all films buffs should already be in the process of watching. Also, try to remember that this film came before any musical adaptation did. So THIS is the original "adaptation" of the novel which most "fans" of the "Phantom of the Opera" franchise have never even heard of. I pity those who are as I have just described, as they have yet to discover the origins of this miraculous story. This is one of the best of the silent era and one of the best films of its year, hands down.

"The Phantom of the Opera" is a tragic love story. It's not a straight-forward one at all. When all is said and done, it's merely a complicated love triangle. The only thing that boosts it up to being miraculous and unmatchable in beauty is the fact that one of the men in this love triangle is a peculiar being; a man who is not a man; a monster. What makes it so powerful is the morals of the monster himself; The Phantom of the Opera (as one would call him). The phantom is a human, although a physically disfigured one. His physical curse also seems to reflect upon his mentality, which may or may not have been already present within his tortured mind. The Phantom himself is given enough background to make him interesting as well as one of the more intriguing horror villains of all time. The entire film takes place in an Opera House, believe it or not. Some scenes take place in the theater, some take place in the rooms otherwise, and other scenes take place underneath the Opera House. Underneath is where the Phantom lurks, longing to lure his true love into his grasp. He eventually compels his beautiful love interest to going down into the dungeons. From then on, the Phantom's disfigurements are revealed, and the quest to end the madness begins. The thing is: the woman's REAL love interest will stop at nothing to save his partner from the clutches of a monster; although like most of the terribly human characters in the film, he lacks understanding of the monster. It's perfectly normal for someone to criticize this movie about its lack of depth in its human characters. The beauty is obviously frightened by the beast, as is everyone else in the society which the film presents. I however feel that these themes of social isolation make "The Phantom of the Opera" one of the finest silent films of all time. There is a reason why every historical film is considered historical, and this film's reason is for its beauty. The film blends horror with romance; drama with tension. When it's all said and done, it's a brilliant film.

Lon Chaney is pretty much famous for his role in this film. His role, of course, is that of The Phantom; the disfigured monstrosity below the theater grounds. The man's performance doesn't necessarily find you rooting for the beast, as that is not the film's intention. You're not really rooting for anyone, as it turns out. Instead, you're following the characters throughout their separate struggles. The Phantom, out of all of the characters in the film, if the one who has basically lived through the most hell. He has to live with his disfigurements, and society has rendered him convinced in his monstrous capabilities. He's convinced that he's a beast who cannot find love unless it is forced; considering that even now, most girls wouldn't exactly want to score with a guy whose face is so ugly that he hides it beneath a mask. Nevertheless, Chaney's performance is by all means landmark. It's that great. Mary Philbin is also very good, portraying the female interest within the love triangle. For a person who has to deal with staring at what could very well be considered the rise of the "horrifically good make-up", she does pretty darn well in keeping her cool (acting-wise, of course). Nothing feels forced, but then again, you never hear her speak. Maybe that's for the better. Hell, I wouldn't have "The Phantom of the Opera" any other way, to be honest.

"The Phantom of the Opera" manages to focus primarily on both its story and its visuals. The film looks good (it's black and white, of course). What's most haunting about it is its use of good production design. The set pieces are incredible, and seem to create a sort of creepy feel that only this film can seem to create. Most of the time, creepiness it generated by suspense and tension, all of it too clear. Here, there is still suspense and tension, although it's not as easy to see it here as it is nowadays. Perhaps this film could be considered, to some, "dated". I however disagree completely. This film is not "dated". You know what I think? I think that every goddamn remake of this film, good or not, is dated. And you know why? Because mediocrity is dated all-together. Films should be good by now, and back then they already were (generally). The make-up effects used for The Phantom are revolutionary, as in for the time, they were incredible. Even now, the Phantom on display here is more wondrously revolting than any other future Phantom. The reason being that there was a whole lot of effort put into the design alone, and even more put into the character's dimensions. What seems to surprise me the most is that this film can be both beautiful and often times horrific; a blend of beauty and monstrosity. It may not be incredibly scary now, although as far as 1920's film standards go, it might as well be scary as hell. None the less, I found this movie to be effective artistically. There's even a scene with Technicolor imagery, which I found to be magnificent. It comes to show how much this particular sequence is key to the film, and how visually beautiful it is supposed to be. Also, the original soundtrack is incredible. Without it, this would have been just another silent film. With it, the movie becomes one of the best films of the silent era. And when I say that, I mean it.

I was really surprised at how much I loved "The Phantom of the Opera". Sure, I expected to like it. Sure, I expected to accept it as a riveting film. But you know what? I personally loved the hell out of it. It's one of the best films for its year, and ranks amongst one of the most influential horror films of all time. But is it a horror film or is it a romance? It's either both or neither. It's simply a mix of not only the two, but many other genres as well. It is a tense nail biter; a visual macabre feast for the eyes. It is an imaginative, one-of-a-kind film; delving deeper into human romance than most films can hope to. I recommend this to anyone willing to watch a classic; anyone who isn't victim to the dumbed down remakes of this movie that have thus released. Even if they have been exposed to such a thing, they can still see this movie, because it's essential for anyone who has the courage to say that they love movies. It is because of films like this that I watch films; to absorb something. With this movie, I happened to...walk away with something. A sort of build-up that wouldn't stop building. Thus, it's still building when the Phantom runs off with the damsel in distress. And that's why it's one of the more effective silent masterpieces in the existence of cinema. It is not to be missed, for its beauty is ever-so-memorable.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
December 02, 2010
marvelous write up!
December 03, 2010
Thank you!
December 02, 2010
Nice review. Did you know that there were plans to do a sound sequel to the film? Sadly before a script could be drafted or completed Lon Chaney died of cancer in 1930.
December 03, 2010
I know. What a damn shame.
More The Phantom of the Opera (The ... reviews
review by . December 22, 2008
posted in Cinema of Silence
The Phantom of the Opera (2-disc Ultimate Edition)
-This review pertains to The Phantom of the Opera: The Ultimate Edition DVD-       Faithfully adapted from Gaston Leroux's mystery novel, the Universal Studios' film The Phantom of the Opera was released in 1925, showcasing the multi-talented Lon Chaney, who had two years earlier starred as Quasimodo in Universal's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In The Phantom of the Opera, Lon Chaney donned the mask of the tortured soul Erik, The Phantom. Joining Chaney in the cast was the beautiful …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #2
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie



Director: Rupert Julian
Genre: Adventure, Classics, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Romance
Release Date: 1925
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: September 9, 2003
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios, Image Entertainment, Milestone
© 2015, LLC All Rights Reserved - Relevant reviews by real people.
Cinema of Silence is part of the Network - Get this on your site
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since