keep your hand at the level of your eye

i just found this amazing youtube mash-up today – it is the original japanese cast of the pantom of the opera singinging ‘stranger than you dreamt it’ alongside the 1925 lon chaney phantom film
fucking brilliant!

i don’t know if if i’ve ever bored you with how much i hate joel scumacher’s phatom of the opera but i’m going to. finding that clip has just brought all my seething resentment about it bubbling to the fore again.
let me put my cards on the table here: i like musicals. there, i said it. and yes, i like the phantom.
it was always going to be a bit dicey translating it to film. alan parker did a really good job of evita but by nature of it’s ‘theatricality’ (ok, implicit borderline ridiculousness) phantom was always going to be a little more tricky.

so they gave the job to joel ‘i nearly killed batman’ schumacher.

everything about the film is terrible. too many static shots of people standing signing at each other. too much gerad butler swishing his cape around like a cow tail. too much of jennifer ellison murdering every line she has. just too much, really.
i’ve since found out that mr s originally wanted antonio banderas for the phantom which would just about explain why gerad butler is playing it as antonio banderas as zoro. almost.

there are a lot of awful things about the film which, to be fair, are also awful about the stage version but somehow they read so much worse on screen. the orchastration is pretty outdated to say the least (drum machine and keyboard aplenty) but how hard would it really be to sort these out a bit for the film? the original novel by gaston leroux is gothic in the traditional sense (closer in tone to the novels of jekyl & hyde or frankenstein) and there was a wonderful opertunity to team up the musical score with something just a little more believable and darker. instead it’s like someone described ‘goth’ down the phone to their mother and told them to direct it. whilst playing flamenco music.

ironically, the one thing in the film that i was most worried about before hand was the only thing i really enjoyed in it: minnie driver as carlotta. i have always pictured carlotta as more of a hag-diva, a miriam margoyles type. but give the girl her dues – she did a good job of brightening up an otherwise loathsome experience.
oh, that and getting to see simon callow sing – i could watch that man read the back of a tin of peas and be happy.

but the leads – oh god. neither of their voices are anywhere near rich enough for the roles. the girl who plays christine (she is so dull i can’t even remember her name and refuse to google out of spite) is just a wet little lassie who could be a million other wet little lassies. her voice is clear enough, but so boring. the benchmark will allways be sarah brightman and and michael crawford. sarah brightman has an incredible vocal range and allthough she is most known for being able to hit those incredible high notes at the end of the title song it’s often when she sings in the lower register that she really makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. she often reminds me of an operatic kate bush in that sense.
and michael crawford had just the perfect voice for the part: dark, emotional, syrupy. he can be quite creepy in places but also childlike and delicate.

this video clip sums up everything i hated about the film

when she appeared around the corner on the horse i actually burst out laughing in the cinema.
no need for the horse. none.

6 thoughts on “keep your hand at the level of your eye

  1. ok granted… the first bit of footage is pretty ace but hey, i love the age and genre but the second…

    there are those of us who say…


    and stuff

    but thats just us eh?


    joel shoe maker has done a fantastic job i say


    you fucking gay cunts


    you deserved it


  2. ok to be properly critical. (sorry i was absolutely steaming when i wrote that)

    (i did meant it still, but maybe “you gay cunts why wont you all die” shouldn’t be takent too literally, however if you are gay and a cunt into the bargain maybe you should)


    i had no interest seeing the film since i hearing of its conception, musicals like that bring out my excema. when i heard that that useles bastard was directing it, this was sealed in a lead coffin and buried in magma.

    why does he keep getting to make films?
    he is rotten, and has talents that would be mocked on the set of “river city”

    skipping over films like “batman & robin”
    i am begining to think that he may actually be the new alan smithee.

    well done on finding the scene with the horse, it really shows he directs from the hellen keller school of thought.

    from what i do know…..the phantom….isnt he meant to be a wee bit hideous? not an apparently sexy guy who looks like he is hiding from all humanity because he has a couple of plooks?


    and the music….
    you’d think, if you were going to tackle a big show like that, you’d be able to do something grand and gothic with it,

    that clip looks like it was made at the end of the eighties for tv, the lighting is sharp, the acting/direction totally crap and i am presuming that when they lifted the score from the west end show, the even took note on which crappy casio keyboard voices to use.

    honestly, a full orchestra should have been……actualy should not have even been a debate


    however had someone else made it i might have even endured it.

    i reckon schumacher should be punished for eternity by making nothing but free promo dvds for holidy resorts and disneyland.

  3. you are right – i’m convinced of it – he is the new alan smithee!!

    (but i also wondered, can you get a diploma from the helen keller school of directing?)

    your absolutely right about the orchestra – it should have been big lush strings and not drum machines that sound like they are about to break into wake me up before you go-go. obviously that’s what the original sounds like but it actualy WAS the eighties then!!

    and yes, even when mr butler get’s his mask off for the girls it’s a sorry dissapointment. hardly the elephant man…

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