47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Rupert Julian, USA 1925, 101 minutes
Nothing to do with the warblings of Sir Tim Rice and Lord LloydWebber (bar the storyline), this is the classic tale of lost love and revenge in the Grand Opera House, Paris.
At the Opera House, all is not well backstage. The management are receiving mysterious threats from "The Phantom" that certain catastrophe will strike if Marguerite, the understudy to the leading lady, does not perform. Catastrophe ensues, and the Phantom kidnaps Marguerite, taking her to his underground lair beneath the opera house stage. It's up to Marguerite's plain military lover to try to save her from the mysterious Phantom.
Lon Chaney, the greatest star of the silent era, is superb in the title role. Powerfully frightening and yet strangely emotive, Chaney resists from hamming it up and plays the Phantom with a delicate balance of horror and humanism. Typical of his other roles (Hunchback of Notre Dame and Flesh and Blood), his combination of contortion and makeup (he was his own make-up artist) steal the screen and make his performance that bit more spine-tingling. The Phantom's presence in famous scenes such as the masked ball and the grand finale are mostly Chaney's doing. Other performances of note are Mary Philbin as the damsel in distress and the Opera House itself; the passages, "hidden places behind the walls" and the secret lair created by Ben Carr'e are almost a supporting player.
The silent era was the most prolific and popular in the history of cinema. Audiences thrilled to the big screen adventures of silent greats such as Chaplin, Valentino and Pickford. The silents were not truly silent of course, with an organist or pianist employed by the cinema to accompany the action onscreen. Often underrated, these unsung performers of the cinema world would provide the mood and emotion to a film. EUFS then, are pleased to offer you the opportunity of re-living the silent era, with a unique live organ accompaniment. Be prepared to be scared witless.
Review by Scott M Keir
Taken from EUFS Programme 1997-98