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The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera (1998 film) poster.jpg
Italian theatrical poster
Directed byDario Argento
Screenplay byDario Argento
Gérard Brach
Giorgina Caspari (English adaptation)
Based onLe Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux
Produced byClaudio Argento
Giuseppe Colombo
Aron Sipos
StarringJulian Sands
Asia Argento
Andrea Di Stefano
CinematographyRonnie Taylor
Edited byAnna Napoli
Music byEnnio Morricone
Cine 2000
Focus Films
Medusa Produzione
Distributed byA-Pix Entertainment
Medusa Distribuzione
Release date
  • 20 November 1998 (1998-11-20)
Running time
99 minutes
Budget$10 million (est.)

The Phantom of the Opera (Italian: Il fantasma dell'opera) is a 1998 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, adapted from the 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. However, there are many differences between the book and the film (the biggest being that the Phantom is not disfigured).


In 1877 Paris, a pack of rats save an abandoned baby from a basket that was flowing along a river. They raise him in the underground of the Opéra de Paris. This child becomes the Phantom of the Opera, a misanthrope who kills anyone who ventures into his underground chambers, just as rats are killed whenever they venture above ground. The Phantom (Julian Sands) falls in love with the young opera singer Christine Daaé (Asia Argento), while she sings alone on stage one night. He appears before her and tells her that her voice fills his heart with light. After leaving, he speaks to her using telepathy, and the two begin a romantic relationship.

The aristocratic Baron Raoul De Chagny (Andrea Di Stefano) has also fallen in love with Christine, though at first Christine offers him only a platonic relationship. Later, she ruminates that she may be in love with both men. One night, the Phantom calls to her and she descends to his lair across an underground lake in a boat. Upon arriving, she finds him playing an organ and he tells her to sing for him. Christine sings the same song he heard her sing when he first saw her onstage. After making love in his bed, the Phantom reveals his past to her. He tells her to stay in the lair while he goes to secure the role of Juliet for her but she refuses to stay alone, causing him to storm out. Christine grows angry with him, and as he leaves in the boat, she shouts that she hates him.

The Phantom threatens Carlotta, the show's spoiled diva, not to sing but she ignores the warning. During her performance as Juliet, the Phantom brings down the chandelier, injuring many audience members. When he returns to Christine, she refuses the role he has secured for her. He becomes angry and forcefully rapes her. After Christine awakens, she witnesses the Phantom covered in his rats and petting them. While he is playing with the rats, she escapes on the boat. She flees into the arms of Raoul, and they ascend to the roof, where they confess their love for each other. The Phantom watches and breaks down crying when he sees them kiss.

The next night Christine sings as Juliet, but the Phantom swoops down onto the stage, and she faints in his arms. Raoul and the police give chase. The Phantom carries Christine back down below and lays her down. When she awakens, he tells her that she is his, and that they will remain alone together until death. She hits his face with a rock and calls to Raoul for help but instantly regrets her actions, and her feelings for the Phantom return. Raoul appears and shoots the Phantom in his stomach with a rifle. Christine screams and cries for the Phantom, surprising Raoul. Though mortally wounded, the Phantom's main concern becomes Christine's safety, as he fears that the police will kill her now they know she is with him. The Phantom leads them to the lake. Raoul and Christine get in the boat but the Phantom remains on the dock and pushes the boat away. He tells Raoul to get out of the cave and out to the river. Raoul does so, ignoring Christine's screams and objections. The Phantom fights the police but is shot multiple times. He hears Christine calling him "my love" and cries out her name before being stabbed in the back then falling into the lake and dying. The rats watch sadly as his body drowns and Christine weeps, heartbroken.


Critical reception

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Critical response to the film was negative. Variety called it "a gothic kitschfest that leaves no excess unexplored", writing "none of your sanitized Andrew Lloyd Webber treatment here, but plenty of bodice-ripping, lush romanticism, gore and gross antics with rats, all of which should tickle the director's stalwart devotees. But the script's clumsy plotting, its often unintentionally hilarious dialogue and some howlingly bad acting make the already widely sold pic likely to function best as a campy video entry for irreverent genre fans."[1] Slant Magazine called it "a hapless failure that could pass for a second-rate B movie that went straight-to-video. After the unfulfilled promises of Trauma and The Stendhal Syndrome, The Phantom of the Opera seemingly signaled the demise of a great auteur."[2]

The film currently has an approval rating of 13% on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on eight reviews.[3]


The score was composed by Ennio Morricone and featured the "Air des clochettes" from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes and the overture from Charles Gounod's Faust.

See also


  1. ^ Rooney, David (29 November 1998). "The Phantom of the Opera". Variety. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  2. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (4 December 2001). "The Phantom of the Opera". Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Il Fantasma dell'Opera (The Phantom of the Opera)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 July 2012.