The Phantom of the Opera (1998)
the phantom of the opera | remake | dario argento | Gérard Brach | gerard brach | giorgina caspari | julian sands | asia argento | andrea di stefano | the phantom | italy | nadia rinaldi | coralina cataldi-tassoni | István Bubik | istvan bubik | lucia guzzardi
Film: The Phantom of the Opera
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Gérard Brach, Dario Argento and Giorgina Caspari
Starring: Julian Sands, Asia Argento and Andrea Di Stefano
This film is actually the second time the great Italian horror director Dario Argento has done a take on the Phantom of the Opera. For this one, he does a completely different take than the giallo Opera which I happen to really like. The official synopsis for this film is this gory remake of the Gaston Leroux classic story, only this time, The Phantom is not disfigured, but a man who was raised by rats deep under the Paris Opera House.
This one is interesting by not having The Phantom be disfigured. Julian Sands looks completely normal and many might even find him to be attractive. What makes also sets this apart is that Sands being raised by rats. Spending all that time with them, he developed the ability to control them. Asia Argento appears in this film as Christine Daaé. I thought she was good in this film as well. It is interesting to note that Dario Argento is her father and he was hard on her, making her be the best person for roles and not just giving them to her. I am really curious also if she was really the one doing the opera singing or if that was dubbed over. I’m even more impressed with her if she actually did it.
The story of the film is really very similar to the classic tale that many already know. Carlotta Altieri (Nadia Rinaldi) is the lead in the opera that is going to be shown, Christine is actually better so The Phantom threatens that if she is not the lead, then he will kill. The Phantom loves and helps Christine, but she thinks it is just a spirit. She falls for Baron Raoul De Chagny (Andrea Di Stefano) and he is the one that tries to save her from The Phantom. There is really nothing new here, but it does take a different look at it.
Now I do have some issues with this version. The first issue and the biggest one I had, I hated the scene where Ignace (István Bubik) and a dwarf create a car like thing that picks up rats like it has a vacuum. I think the film forget what time period it was in. It comes off as almost comic relief and it was out of place.
It also seemed bit confusing me that The Phantom is supposed to be able to control rats, so you’d think that he’d know if one of his gets hurt, yet he doesn’t seem to notice. He also doesn’t seem to have a lot of control on them as the film seemed to indicate as well. I also didn’t care for the love affair between Christine, The Phantom and Raoul. One minute she loves Sands, then Stefano and then back. I just didn’t buy it. It feels forced.
The film does have quite a bit of blood and gore, which was good. It was done practical from what I can tell. This film seems to be right before the era where Argento went heavy with the CGI special effects. I do have to give the film credit for that. It was also shot well, but that is something that even the worst Argento films I’ve seen seem to have going for them.
Most of the acting I’ve touched on. I thought for the most part Sands, Argento, Stefano and Rinaldi were all fine in their roles. None of them really blew me away, so the love story hurts it a bit. Sands is a great villain though, there is something arrogant about him that works. There is also Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, who appears as Honorine. She plays a lot of supporting roles in films that Dario Argento is involved with. She is also in support. The rest of this cast was fine as well.
As for the score of the film, I thought it was fine. Opera isn’t really my type of music, but I thought it was fitting for the film. I really do want to know if Asia actually sang the opera parts we see in the film. The rest of the score was fine for what I remember. It didn’t stand out as one of the better soundtracks, but it doesn’t hurt the film.
With that said, this film had a lot of promise to me, but it falls flat unfortunately. I thought the three leads were good, but the rest of the acting was decent. I really liked the concept as well, but the story seemed to fall short as well. The death scenes were good, but there was some aspects needed to be fleshed out some more. The comic relief scene was out of place and I didn’t care for it. There are much better versions of Phantom of the Opera and I would recommend seeing them instead, unless you are a fan of Dario Argento or seeing all the versions of this story. If not for that, I’d avoid this one. It is just an average film with some good aspects.
My Rating: 5 out of 10