The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera ★★★★

Rupert Julian's silent classic, "The Phantom of the Opera," is a sweeping costume drama with elements of horror, melodrama, and tragedy. With its large cast, iconic lead performances, and expansive sets, the film is memorable and entertaining. Though its larger-than-life villain has aged better than the film itself, "The Phantom of the Opera" is an example of fine filmmaking.

Based on Gaston Leroux's novel, "The Phantom of the Opera" revolves around a mysterious figure who stalks the Paris Opera House. When a young singer becomes involved with the phantom, his affections for the singer threaten more than just her career. It is a well-known tale full of robustly entertaining elements: drama, horror, romance, and a touch of catacomb-based adventure.

The film blends grand production design with smaller, more personally visualized moments. Expansive halls give way to tighter, mysterious corridors, and the film's drama plays equally well in both settings. Performances are solid and theatrical, though Lon Chaney's Phantom and Mary Philbin's Christine have become iconic.

"The Phantom of the Opera" is Chaney's film. His makeup and performance set the film's tone and stalk its atmosphere. The film may offer grand spectacle, but, in its titular character, it also provides a grotesque and nightmarish figure to haunt the memories of its audience.

Though it suffers from the staginess of lesser silent films, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a haunting, fully rendered piece of entertainment. Combining large scale melodrama and icy horror chills, the film is a great piece of work.

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