This screening was preceded by an early silent short film, which I’ve reviewed separately at the end.
SPECIAL SCREENING FILM REVIEW || Director Rupert Julian | Writers Elliott J. Clawson, Tom Reed and Raymond L. Schrock [all uncredited] (based on the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux) | Cinematographer Charles Van Enger | Starring Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry | Length 93 minutes | Seen at BFI Southbank (NFT2), London, Monday 20 January 2014 || My Rating very good
I imagine a lot of people have at least a smattering of knowledge about this story based on its long-running stage musical incarnation or its soundtrack. And though I can’t pretend (like the snob I am) that I’ve entirely avoided Andrew Lloyd Webber in the course of my life, I had at least missed out on this particular creaky stage musical of his, so I can’t make any comparison between it and this (much earlier) film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s original. I can only assess it as it compares with other silent films I’ve seen of the era, and certainly the 1925 Phantom provides plenty of enjoyment on its own merits, including an iconic role for the all-too-brief silent film career of Lon Chaney (senior), as well as featuring some beautiful camerawork and use of colour and tinting.