Phantom of Opera

Phantom of Opera

Director: Harry S. Webb, Rupert Julian Cast: Edith Roberts, Lon Chaney

DVD

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Overview

You don't have to love (or even like) silent movies to enjoy this DVD -- that might be the most miraculous achievement of the many to be found on this two-disc set, which is worth at least twice what is being asked for it. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) has had so many incarnations, in terms of variant editions of the original 1925 version (and its 1929/1930 reissue version), that it could make seasoned film scholars' heads spin -- and that's not even counting the unauthorized DVD and video editions that are out there. But Milestone Film and Video's September 2003 double-disc DVD version is about as coherent and as good a presentation as the movie is ever likely to have, as good as the movie is likely ever to look, and as fulfilling as any silent movie will likely ever ever be to 21st century audiences. In addition to the most perfect film-to-video transfer ever seen of the movie, of the 1929/1930 sound-adapted reissue (the best surviving source of the movie in any form), it comes complete with two different soundtracks, a new orchestral track by composer Carl Davis done for a British television showing, and the original 1930 adapted soundtrack (complete with dialogue added). Watching this edition of the movie with either soundtrack -- but especially with the Davis music track -- is almost like watching a new movie; not only does the movie look like it was shot freshly (it's that clean), but it flows beautifully, with none of the clunkiness that one usually associates with silents as they are often presented. The tinting is done so smoothly and carefully that one forgets that it is present; after a few minutes, it seems the most natural way to present a movie. And you literally forget you're watching a silent. The principal bonus feature on disc one is film historian Scott McQueen's commentary track. It's a nimble walk through the movie from beginning to end, including a discussion of all of the changes (and some of them were dizzying) made in the movie between the various preview and official release versions, and the 1925 release and the 1929 and 1930 re-release versions. We get day-to-day accounts of Lon Chaney's involvement and work, director Rupert Julian's selection (and his mistakes), and such matters as costuming and set design, and places where the shooting departed from what were more impressive elements of the script. He even gets into the different camera angles of various shots utilized in the different editions of the movie issued by Universal in 1925 and 1929 -- but McQueen also weaves the relationship of The Phantom of the Opera into other movies, including the work of Jean Cocteau. It's all a masterful presentation, nearly as impressive and entertaining as the movie. The 1925 version, in its degraded state, appears on the second disc. It's more of a reference document than anything else, and not as easy to appreciate as the 1929 version on the first disc, but it's fascinating to compare the two, and it does, to a better degree than this reviewer has seen, hold up as more satisfying entertainment than any other DVD presentation of the 1925 version. What's more, in contrast to the old Lumivision laserdisc that also attempted to bring together the two different cuts of the movie between one cover, there is a music track, on piano and organ, for the 1925 film as well. The other major bonuses include the interview with Carla Laemmle, a descendant of the family that founded the studio, and who also played the prima ballerina in the ballet sequence in the beginning of the movie; and an audio interview with Charles Van Enger, who photographed the movie, recorded in 1973, seven years before his death. His observations about the 1943 remake show that Van Enger may well have had more sense of a good story than the Universal screenwriters who actually wrote that script, and might well have made a great director or head-of-production. The DVD set is well produced and entertaining enough to keep even casual viewers busy for two weeks. Serious movie buffs will come back to it for months. The menus are easy to use and the bonus materials easy to access. It's a masterful creation, and could be this reviewer's pick for best DVD of 2003.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/09/2003
UPC: 0014381020922
Original Release: 0000
Rating: NR
Source: Image Entertainment
Region Code: 1
Sound: [Dolby Digital Mono, Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time: 4:28:00

Special Features

1929 Restored Version featuring two soundtracks: stereo orchestral score by Carl Davis and the original 1930 soundtrack edited to fit picture; 1929 Restored Version: Audio commentary by film historian Scott MacQueen; 1925 & 1930 theatrical trailers; 1929 Restored Version: Stills galleries featuring deleted & missing scenes; Bonus audio-only feature: selections of dialogue sequences from the 1930 version not found in the restored version; 1925 Original Feature Version with a score by Jon Mirsalis; "Carla Laemmle Remembers," a video interview with David Skal; Faust opera extract from the 1929 Tiffany sound feature Midstream; Bonus audio-only feature: cinematographer Charles Van Enger interview

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1
1. Main Title [1:43]
2. Sanctuary of Song [1:43]
3. New Managers [2:07]
4. Box 5 [2:23]
5. Ballerinas [5:15]
6. Diva in Distress [1:05]
7. A New Margeurite [4:03]
8. The Phantom Speaks [3:46]
9. Faust [5:51]
10. Through the Mirror [5:38]
11. Underworld [6:36]
12. Awakening [3:13]
13. Unmasking [5:44]
14. One Night Each Year [4:13]
15. Apollo's Lyre [5:48]
16. Prefect's Office [5:58]
17. Abduction [4:40]
18. Trap Door [5:03]
19. Black Lake [3:48]
20. Mob Vengeance [6:16]
21. Christine's Decision [4:57]
22. Chase [3:04]
23. Finis & Credits [1:44]
Side #2 -- Disc 2
1. Main Title [5:02]
2. Ballet [2:32]
3. New Managers [1:43]
4. In the Cellars [1:34]
5. Carlotta [2:03]
6. "Ask Joseph Buquet!" [2:19]
7. The Voice [3:25]
8. In a Garden [3:14]
9. A New Margeurite [7:44]
10. The Voice Again [1:50]
11. The Hanged Man [2:01]
12. Discordant Note [3:25]
13. Faust [5:14]
14. The Mirror [1:50]
15. The Master [5:17]
16. The Awaited Hour [6:19]
17. Tortured Dreams [3:38]
18. "Don Juan Triumphant" [5:14]
19. Masked Ball [8:35]
20. "This Is Your Man" [3:21]
21. "He Knows Our Plans" [2:48]
22. Abduction [4:23]
23. Trap-Door [3:06]
24. Torture Chamber [1:52]
25. Siren [5:31]
26. Heat [4:31]
27. "Turn the Scorpion" [3:25]
28. Escape & Pursuit [3:45]
29. Honeymoon [1:10]

Customer Reviews

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Phantom of Opera 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this movie, it has the Great Lon Chaney in it, it is just a wonderful movie, I highly reccomend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago