I Do Movies Badly: The Phantom of the Opera

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2 Responses

  1. FictionIsntReal says:

    You mentioned the tragic ending of Faust, so it’s worth noting that Goethe (who wrote the most well known adaptation of the legend) actually gave him a happy ending in the lesser-known Part 2. It’s not in the older versions of the story or really justified by anything in the text, but I guess Goethe was just a softie. Gounod’s opera (featured in Phantom) is based on the better known first part.

    You like the 40s version of Phantom much less than the 20s and assume the reason must be studio interference. I expect my feelings would be similar (although I was not actually willing to watch the later version), but how can you be sure the studio interfered more with one than the other? Perhaps whoever wrote or directed it wanted to tell that version of the story all along. You and I may not care for it, but lots of other people do, and that could well include the artists instead of just “suits”.

    I really don’t think Browning’s Dracula is “obsessed” with Mina in any way comparable to the Phantom or the Mummy. Remember that he meets them all at a theater early on, but his first target is Lucy and not Mina. He just moves on to Mina after he’s drained Lucy to her death (as it is in the book, where Renfield never went to Transylvania or met Dracula before being locked up).

    Bram Stoker was married and they had a kid. Heterosexual relations would not have been that foreign to him. In the biographical information I can find, there is nothing about him being gay.

    Going a bit more off-topic, Mary Shelley would be the sort of person one would expect to put feminist themes in her story. Her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, godmother of feminism. But in Frankenstein itself, there’s hard to detect much (even the “bride” was destroyed by Frankenstein so he wouldn’t have to bring it to life). It’s mostly a story about men, and not even one like Lupino’s Hitchhiker which is particularly concerned with their conceptions of masculinity. One could chalk that up to her having made it up as a spooky story for her friends and not being inclined to go for some other angle when she wrote it up as a novel, even though there are easier to discern feminist themes in her other work.

    • Jim says:

      Actually, there was a fair amount of studio interference in the 1920s version, much more than in the 40s version as far as I can tell. A new director was brought in and additional scenes were shot to make the film more of a romantic comedy after bad screenings, though much of that material hasn’t survived the version we see now. As for the question of interference for the 40s version, there aren’t many details, but it was Universal’s idea to remake it.

      Yes, heterosexual relations would not have been “foreign” to Stoker if he had a wife and kid, but if he was indeed a closeted homosexual, then being able to relate and understand is an entirely different matter. I suspect that if he were a closeted homosexual, then having a wife and child would have even further exacerbated a sense of feeling like an outsider even to the point of homophobia and/or self-loathing.
      As for information on Stoker’s sexual orientation, here are two sources I’ve found, one of which is a more historical account, one of which is more circumstantial evidence based on his writing:

      http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/coming-out-of-the-coffin/

      http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/184/bram-stokers-dracula-a-reflection-and-rebuke-of-victorian-society

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