Phantom of the Opera

“Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before.”

[This post refers only to the 2005 film version of Phantom of the Opera, adapted from the Andrew Lloyd Weber stage musical, not the book (which I haven’t read yet) or any other movies.]

Christine, a young orphaned ingenue of the Paris opera, is tutored in secret by a mysterious figure who she believes to be the “angel of music” sent by her dead father – and whom she naively trusts. On the night she must suddenly take the lead role in the opera, the Phantom comes to her afterward and leads her, almost in a trance, to his underground lair in the labyrinthine depths of the opera house, and confesses his obsession to her. Throughout the story, Christine is alternately attracted to and repulsed by the Phantom; there is a sexual chemistry between them, but she is also horrified by his murderous rage. Her mortal companions include a fellow dancer, and her childhood sweetheart, who is determined to rescue her from the Phantom. But in the end, it is she who must rescue him, when the Phantom captures him. She must show the disfigured Phantom love and compassion, while at the same time exposing his real flaw: his dark heart, twisted from years of solitude and rejection. In the end, she escapes and goes on to lead a normal life with her companion/lover – a sore disappointment to those of us who swoon at Gerard Butler’s dark, sexy Phantom and would much prefer him over bland Raul.

Since many Girls Underground stories feature poems or songs prominently, a musical makes perfect sense. And some of the songs in POTO are incredible manifestations of the girl-adversary dynamic, both antagonistic and full of longing at once.

“Sing once again with me our strange duet / My power over you grows stronger yet / And though you turn from me to glance behind / The phantom of the opera is there inside your mind”