The Phantom of the Opera
It all boils down to whether or not you like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. Lee and I do, though from his television appearances he strikes me as a conceited British snot and bore of the kind I find most tiresome. Opera-lovers hate him. Most lovers of Stephen Sondheim (and I am one) hate him. The critics have complained that the story is over the top, that the movie is full of ham acting—but what sort would you expect from such a grandiose story?—and that the singing is lip-synched, though it is always synched in a movie musical. (Well, Peter Bogdanovich tried live recording, with a cast of all non-singers, in the disastrous At Long Last Love, which has never been released on video, and no one has done it since. Thank god.) Compare it to Sweeney Todd, another big, operatic musical juggernaut filled with ominous and dramatic music. Sweeney is undoubtedly the more sophisticated and challenging work, but that doesn’t mean Phantom doesn’t have its own delights. Lord Lloyd Webber is peerless at writing melodies you find yourself singing as you leave the theater. And I like grandiosity in a musical; so sue me. The sets were terrific, everything was fortissimo and colorful and awesome. I loved this movie. I’ll buy the DVD.