Sunday, 7 April 2013

And I heard as I've never heard before.

"Lot 666, then ladies and gentlemen: a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera."

In my opinion our favourite movies are not the most critically acclaimed films, or the best movies to have ever been made. They are the films that are most personal to us, ones we have a deep connection with, in essence the films we return to time and time again. I first saw The Phantom of the Opera when I was 12 years old, I had heard the music growing up and always loved it. And when my parents bought the DVD of the 2004 film, I was very curious to finally learn the whole story surrounding the Phantom. Before I start the review properly here is a little background on the history of the Phantom. For those of you who don't know The Phantom of the Opera (or Le Fantôme de l'Opéra to give it, its original title) was written by Gaston Leroux in the early 1900's. It has had a few film adaptations over the years, including the 1925 Lon Chaney version and the 1943 Claude Rains version. But in 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber took the story and turned it into musical, it has now been running for 27 years in the West End and has had over 10,000 performances on broadway, and this is where our story begins.

Christine Daaé is a chorus girl at the Opéra Populaire in Paris, she has been having singing lessons from a mysterious person she only knows as the Angel of Music, which is in fact the Phantom, who lives within the deepest recesses and catacombs of the opera house. One day after the resident Prima Donna Carlotta refuses to sing, Christine is thrown into the limelight and is greeted with much success, whereby she catches the attention of Raoul the Viscount of Chagny, a former childhood sweetheart. Upon the Phantom learning of the exact relationship between Christine and Raoul, a dangerous love triangle begins.There are many main themes within The Phantom of the Opera, love, obsession, fear and desire to name but a few. Underneath all of the layers of sub-plot it's essentially the story of a man who just wants to be loved and treated like a 'normal' human being, and for the world to accept his appearance. Gerard Butler's performance was superb, his portrayal of the Phantom was just enthralling he could go from murderous rage to incredible vulnerability in seconds. He possesses both menace and hypnotic charm behind that iconic mask of his, and it's easy to see why Christine is seduced by the Phantom. Emmy Rossum brings a lot of the heart and warmth to the story, with her innocence and purity playing Christine. Seeing her deal with an internal struggle, to come to terms with the man and idol who gave her stardom and her voice must be trapped, and she is the only one who can do it, is just heart wrenching.

The settings throughout the movie are just sumptuous, and truly captures the lavish and spectacular opera scene in 1870.The soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera is some of my favourite music of all time, the score is mesmerizing and complex, it never fails to give me goosebumps. Whenever I hear the opening instrumental first few bars of 'The Phantom of the Opera' the hairs on the back of my neck always stand up.

My favourite song in The Phantom of the Opera is, The Point Of No Return. This is the song where the Phantom does truly confess his love and passion for Christine, however you can tell at that point Christine does choose the Phantom, even though just before she was conflicted as to what choice to make. You can see it in her eyes and body language, she's given in to her desires, the moment Christine sees him her mind is made up. She forgets she's in front of an audience she's completely consumed by him, she loves the danger and mystery he represents. And when they finally meet on top of the bridge all the chemistry and lust between them just explodes, their relationship is some what similar to a passionate gothic romance. And the Phantom copying Raoul's song from earlier, 'say you'll share with me, one love one lifetime.' Is both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

Christine has always been the Phantom's protégé, but over the years she turns into his whole world, without her it would collapse, so when the very real danger of Raoul appears, he resorts to anything to keep Christine. Throughout the movie there are two main types of song, the innocent, sweet, light, fairytale romance of Raoul & Christine and the dark, sensuous and passionate relationship the Phantom and Christine share. Granted there are other songs, however most of these are overshadowed by the raw emotion the main 3 characters convey.

The final scene in the Phantom's lair is hard to watch, the Phantom forces Christine to choose between Raoul the love of her life dying, or choosing him the fallen idol Christine once thought she knew. Yet even after all the emotional turmoil and danger the Phantom has put her through, Christine still shows kindness and compassion, she even wears the engagement ring that he gave her. And this in turn gives the Phantom that moment of love he has always desired even though it was fleeting. Seeing Christine give the Phantom back his engagement ring whilst he says he loves her, is truly one of the saddest scenes I have ever seen.

At the end of the movie when we see Christine Daaé's grave there is a rose with a black ribbon tied around it with an engagement ring attached to it, this implies that the Phantom is still alive somewhere, and will always love and adore Christine.

Overall The Phantom of the Opera is a story about unrequited love, betrayal, love, obsession and passion. It's an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and will always be my favourite musical of all time.


Friday, 28 September 2012

I can't help it. He's always with me, like a bad habit.


Well first off apologies for the lack of blogging, I've been very busy but also recently have not been feeling well, so as always my motivation when I'm ill is 0%.
So this post will be dedicated to my love of  Dr Hannibal Lecter, I think we all know I have a major interest (obsession) with the good Doctor. This post will mainly focus on the DVD boxset of Hannibal I purchased a while back. As I have said many a time my favourite film of all time is The Silence of the Lambs, however unlike most people I actually really enjoy the sequel Hannibal. I have now read all the books and it is safe to say I prefer Ridley Scott's version (which is incredibly controversial, I know.)

First of all I would like to address all of the hate Julianne Moore gets for playing Clarice Starling, I personally think she is fantastic and did a thoroughly good job, of course it was always going to be hard to follow the great Jodie Foster. But number one Jodie did not want to do the film as she felt it betrayed the character of Clarice, although this has been denied by her saying the actual reason was that the Hannibal filming clashed with her directing her first film.

I think that Moore's portrayal of Starling is just spot on, Hannibal takes place 10 years after The Silence of the Lambs, and Clarice has learnt that the FBI is not all she dreamt. After helping capture Jame Gumb she is resented by many of her colleagues, especially Paul Krendler and he has done everything in his power to hinder Clarice's career. Now of course we are meant to hate Krendler he is a sexist and greedy pig, but the fact Ray Liotta plays him makes me hate him even more (sorry Ray you just always give me the creeps!) 

Also the superb Gary Oldman play Mason Verger a former patience of Doctor Lecter's. He's an even nastier piece of work and is a child molester (though this does not feature in the film) and he plans on capturing Lecter for personal revenge and eating him (Lecter kindly suggested Mason should peel his face off and feed it to the dogs whilst he was high.)

My favourite setting in Hannibal is Florence, it just looks so picturesque I really want to visit some day, it looks like an amazing place to live. We discover Lecter has escaped there, and is now living under the name of Doctor Fell. And he is temporary curator of the Capponi Library, (last one mysteriously disappeared, I wonder why?) 

Though as always my favourite aspect of the film is the cat and mouse game between Lecter and Starling, I have always been fascinated and love the tension they have. I must confess that the penultimate scene at Krendler's lake house always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Starling has to choose whether to give into her feelings or will her sense of duty prevail?

The kiss between Clarice and Hannibal greatly interests me also, both shed a tear, Clarice when Hannibal finally kisses her after all these years of tension. However Lecter's tear is harder to detect as his face is partly covered by a shadow, but after Clarice handcuffs him he realises he must make the ultimate sacrifice. Of course the Doctor constantly teases Starling to the end (he implies it's her hand he'll be cutting off.)

Now I will admit that the romantic in me hopes that by sacrificing his hand Lecter is showing the love he feels for Clarice, and the tear he cries is his acknowledgement that he now understands that the FBI will always come first for Clarice. However the critic in me always thinks can a sociopath / psychopath ever love, (I've still not decided which one his is.) The answer is probably no, but I'm going to let this one slide as after all it is only fiction.

Although for much of the film Clarice is suspended pending investigation, Doctor Lecter says to Starling something that must definitely be one of my favourite quotes of all time ..."would they have you back, you think? The FBI? Those people you despise almost as much as they despise you. Would they give you a medal, Clarice, do you think? Would you have it professionally framed and hang it on your wall to look at and remind you of your courage and incorruptibility? All you would need for that, Clarice, is a mirror."

I genuinely believe Lecter wishes Clarice to see her full potential, for he has always seen her as a worthy opponent.

Another fantastic component of the film is the score created by the very talented Hans Zimmer (who works also include Sherlock Holmes and Gladiator.) There are twelve tracks on the album, all heavily influenced by classical music, my favourites are 1. Dear Clarice 9. Let My Home Be My Gallows and 12. Vide Cor Meum. The music definitely helps take the film to the next level, as every good soundtrack should. Vide Cor Meum is sung in the opera that takes place in Florence, the words featured in it are those of Dante's from La Vita Nuova, which Dr Lecter (Fell) lectures on to a group of academics in the Capponi Library.

Overall I really enjoyed the film and I never get bored of it, and I think the ending of the film is much more true to Clarice then the book ending is. Sir Anthony Hopkins as usual gives another spell binding performance however it is a little strange to see Lecter outside of a prison cell! This is another brilliant installment in the Lecter saga and I recommend it is well worth a watch.

Let me know you thoughts on Hannibal.