Gail’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched for Hooptober 6. (The first one! It's happening! ahem.)
I remember blasting the Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtrack while cleaning up the soup booth at Renaissance Festival, my high school summer job. I remember reading and rereading the book when I was in high school, and reading that book by Susan Kay, and juggling for my friends to the soundtrack, and cringing at the terrible version from 2004, and going on a tour of the Opera House when I was in Paris partway through college, and incorporating the original and some of the based-ons into my senior project as an undergraduate, trying to do something like the Thompson index of things more or less Beauty and the Beast, a fairy tale I've been more or less obsessed with since I can remember. So what I'm saying is, I was suuuuper into this story in the 1995-2005 window of my life.
It's always a weird feeling revisiting things I loved deeply when I was younger and feeling how I'm different.
So having actually been to the Opera House, it was amazing to see it in this (blurry, presumably unrestored, free on Prime) version. I love how they indexed on the chandelier a bunch at the beginning. It's a nice tense feeling, seeing it and wondering how they're going to make it fall. The cellars in this version look a lot like the back lot after clearing Griffith's massive sets after making Intolerance (and maybe some of the Melies brothers magic films--that weird basilisk face especially). The boat bed that Christine slept in, I covet the heck out of that thing. It's like the adult equivalent of a kid's race car bed.
The Phantom's mask was seriously creepy (for me and my mild doll phobia anyway). The mask Webber figured out never made sense to me because it seems like nothing is holding it on his face at all, so this one is an improvement in mask logistics even though it's the horror-est part of the movie for me. (And that veil thing along the bottom edge of the mask, and you can see his mouth moving through it, mostly teeth... eep.)
Christine's acting irritated me. She felt like Amy trying to act in Jo March's production of Whatever That Was, with Roderigo. The Phantom was neat, especially the mask, but I had a much harder time sympathizing with him than I did as a late teen to early twenties person. Raoul kept reminding me of Kevin Kline as Guy Noire so my squirrel brain had a hard time taking him seriously. (trying to decide if I should be irritated at him for ignoring Christine's first 'stay away from me' letter or not, considering her second, 'I promised I wouldn't see you but let's hang out' letter.) Raoul and Phantom, two guys who need work on how relationships work. And Christine, who maybe just needed a lock on her dressing room door. (I kept thinking of Marlene Dietrich's character in Blue Angel every time somebody came into Christine's room without knocking. I hadn't thought when I actually watched Blue Angel, but in retrospect I'm pretty sure she didn't have a lock on her door either--she might not have even had a door.)
Anyway. Goodbye, self that loved this story uncritically. Hello, Hooptober 2019.