Phantom: The Book, The Stage, The Film: Which Is Best?

May 23, 2015 0 By Bethanie

So, after having born witness to all of the above, I suppose I just feel like comparing and evaluating them all, I absolutely LOVE Phantom, and would quite happily listen to its musical numbers all day every day, However, as keen of a theatre enthusiast as I am, I do love a good book, which obviously Phantom was originally a novel written by Gaston Leroux and a fantastic novel to say the least.

The main differences in between the novel and its future adaptations is that in the theatrical version and feature film versions, we never learn The Phantom’s name (Which is Erik, just in case anyone wondered.)  also, The ending is a little awry from that of the book, to give a brief overview: “Erik kidnaps Christine during a production of Faust and tries to force Christine to marry him. He states that if she refuses, he will use explosives (which he has planted in the cellars) to destroy the entire opera house. Christine refuses, until she realizes that Erik learned of Raoul’s attempt to rescue her and has trapped Raoul in a hot torture chamber (along with the Persian, an old acquaintance of Erik who was going to help Raoul). To save them and the people above, Christine agrees to marry Erik. Erik initially tries to drown Raoul, using the water which would have been used to douse the explosives. But Christine begs and offers to be his “living bride”, promising him not to kill herself after becoming his bride, as she had both contemplated and attempted earlier in the novel. Erik eventually rescues Raoul from his torture chamber. When Erik is alone with Christine, he lifts his mask to kiss her on her forehead, and is given a kiss back. Erik reveals that he has never received a kiss (not even from his own mother) nor has been allowed to give one and is overcome with emotion. Erik allows them to escape, though not before making Christine promise that she will visit him once on his death day, and return the gold ring he gave her. He also makes her promise that afterwards she will go to the newspaper and report his death. Indeed, some time later Christine returns to Erik’s lair, buries him and returns the gold ring. Afterwards, a local newspaper runs the simple note: “Erik is dead”.”  In the theatrical and film versions, Christine dies and both Erik & Raoul place objects on Christine’s grave, which I personally believe, that this ending does no justice to the story of Erik, as all the theatrical and film endings prove is that both Erik & Raoul care about Christine, detracting from the sympathy we feel for Erik at the end of the book.

Obviously a main detraction in the book, is that there are no beautiful sounding musical numbers, however, if you read the book after having seen the theatrical version or film version, the songs do slot themselves into their places within the book, My personal favourite out of the trio is the novel, I just feel that it gives something more than the theatrical & film versions. The novel gives the opportunity to better understand the character of the Phantom and why he is as he is, Obviously I do understand that trying to fit an 844 page novel into a 2 and a 1/2 hour production on the stage or screen is very challenging, and I am in no way opposed to either the stage or film versions of Phantom, In the stage version my favourite Phantom & Christine have to be John Owen-Jones & Gina Beck, Their final lair had me in floods of tears (I cry at every final lair, except the film version, that didn’t do much for me.) and the film, I didn’t go a bundle on the film, I enjoyed it, as I appreciate Phantom as it is one of my favourite things ever, however I felt that the film lacked the emotion and vocal talent of the stage production, Final Lair was a bit lack luster, it lacked the vocal contrasts (the one moment singing beautifully then the next shouting) which detracted from the overall emotion that draws you in at the end of the play, however, overall, a good show for what it was.

So, the verdict is, if you haven’t already read Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, then I highly recommend that you do read it ASAP, as it is phenomenal!

Thank you for reading.