This is a really silly idea that came to my head many months ago then. I'm not sure if I meant it to be silly or not, it's completely random and I certainly won't force anyone to like it. Still if you do, great.
Warning: I'm from Finland so prepare for writing and language errors.
Another Warning (this one you should read): This oneshot contains SPOILERS for various adaptations of Phantom of the Opera legend. All the movies mentioned here are the ones I've seen. If you know a version that is not here, it's because I haven't seen it.
Disclaimers: as much as I wish, I am not Gaston Leroux reincarnated.
WITH ERIK AND CHRISTINE
Hosted by Kriitikko
Kriitikko: And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment we have been waiting for! Let us welcome the two most celebrated stars of The Phantom of the Opera franchise: Christine Daae and Erik (insert last name here)!
K: Welcome to the show!
Christine: Thank you, I am happy to be here.
Erik: *dryly* There's nothing I'd like more than going through bunch of films that carry my name but doesn't actually have anything to do with me.
K: Ahem, yes. We had send invitation for Raoul de Chagny to join us also but apparently, for the sake of his own health, he declined come.
C: You wouldn't happen to have anything to do with that would you, Erik?
E: It's not my fault if the vicomte becomes so paranoiac whenever he is near me.
K: Well, let us begin then. Christine and Erik. It has been nearly a hundred years since Gaston Leroux published his book "Le Fantome dell Opera". Although the book itself is not the main issue in our show, I feel I must ask; how did Monsieur Leroux found out so much about you and how much of the book is true?
E: That lousy journalist was stalking on every corridor in the opera house in hopes of getting some scoop for himself. You know the ballet girls who always shout "It's the Phantom" whenever they see a shadow on the wall. Most of those cases it was Leroux and not me. Compared to him neither I nor Daroga are stalkers.
C: I once found him hiding in my dressing room in hopes of catching a glimpse of Erik. Then he wrote that scene in his book as if it had been Raoul hiding in my room. But to go back to your question, all that Leroux wrote did happen. He just made it sound a lot worse than it actually was.
K: I see. Well Leroux book had a bit of critical acceptance and your story might have been lost if not for Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Film Studios, who saw the chances of making a great movie. The 1925 silent adaptation was a big hit at the time and many people still think that Lon Chaney is the greatest actor ever to play the part of the Phantom. Erik, what are your opinions of Mr. Chaney's performance?
E: He is one of the few that I can really see having something in common with myself. And his makeup is closest to my appearance. Also I am also quite pleased of how detailed their sets of the Paris Opera house and catacombs were. The film itself has many things that most of the other versions have left out. Such as the masquerade, the torture chamber, fop's big brother Philip and Daroga, to whom this is the only film appearance.
K: Ah yes, although he was changed to more European character and renamed inspector Ledoux, played by Arthur Edmund Carewe. The name is probably a joke of Leroux. A character named inspector Ledoux also appeared in 1990 TV-film, this time played by Jean-Pierre Cassel. However, that Ledoux no longer had anything to do with the mysterious Persian. Now, Christine. What are your thoughts of the film and your character, played by Mary Philbin?
C: Well, although I agree with Erik that the film is closest to our story and Mr. Chaney was spectacular, there are couple complaints I want to make about my character. Miss Philbin did a good job, but I think it is because of her curly brown hair that most of the later versions of me are brunets instead of blondes.
K: That is true, for some reason a typical image of Christine is a brown haired girl. This image became even stronger after Sarah Brightman's performance in Webber's musical version.
C: The other thing that bothers me is leaving out the back-story of Angel of Music. Now, I know most people think of me as a silly person for believing in angels, but that is at least more sensible than just taking instructions from some random voice in your dressing room. And what is with that ending? In the movie Erik leaves me unconscious in some gutter while he runs away to save his own skin. I know my Erik and he would never leave me like that.
E: *happy chuckle* She said my Erik.
K: Originally the film was supposed to have an ending more closely to that of Leroux's novel, but Universal felt that audience would want more action instead of drama. Funny thing they still seem to think that way. Anyway, after the 1925 silent version most of the other Phantom of the Opera adaptations are far less faithful to the book. The first talking Phantom was seen in 1937 in a Chinese film "Ye ban ge sheng", internationally translated as "Song at Midnight". In this story Phantom is a former famous singer named Sung Danping, who has been in a forbidden relationship with a daughter of a wealthy man. A jealous rival disfigures Danping with acid and he hides from the world deep within the old theatre. The woman he loves, believing Danping to be dead, looses her mind. Danping later tries to ease her suffering by training a young man to sing and take his place in her life. What did you think of this film?
C: I liked the story very much as I could watch without having to think it is a film about me. It was very romantic and tragic, like something Shakespeare would have made. It would have made a great opera.
E: Quite so. Though visually film has taken influences from 1930's Universal horror films, instead of our story. All those dark hallways remind me more of Castle Dracula than of any theatre I have ever been. And although the story is very promising in this film, I can't help but feel weird that Phantom is tutoring the Raoul character in this version.
C: Raoul actually has quite a pleasant voice. Maybe you should give him lessons.
E: *ignores her* Though I have to say that they did a poor job with the sound recording or then most of the cast truly sounds like a herd of children.
K: *clears his throat* So, the story of the Phantom of the Opera made its return to Hollywood in 1943, this time in full colors. This version was directed by Arthur Lubin and starred Claude Rains as the Phantom and Susanna Foster as Christine. Like in "Song at Midnight", this version and many other versions afterwards feature Phantom as a musician who gets scared by acid. What are your opinions of Erique Claudin, the Phantom in this version?
C: I felt sorry for him. He is really a kind man who has dedicated his life to help the woman he loves and suffers a tragic misunderstanding, thus becoming the Phantom.
E: I can relate to that. If I'd ever think that someone has stolen my music there would be no room for reason. I have to confess that I like this version very much.
K: Oh, and why is that? Because of the lavish sets that are the same used in 1925 version?
E: Well there is that also and great opera scenes. But what I especially like is that film has not one but two Raoul characters, and Christine doesn't choose either of them.
K: Right, this is the only version featuring Christine continuing her career as a singer even after the Phantom has died.
C: You still angry for me giving up my career?
E: Just because your tutor turned out to be a psychotic freak with an unhealthy obsession over you, instead of any divine being, did not give you the right to throw your career away!
C: *humph* Says the man who threatened to blow the entire opera up.
K: *interrupting* It should also be noted that the 1943 version was the first of many that made the Carlotta character, this time named Biancarolli and played by Jane Farrar, quite a…well, bitchy.
E: *snort* You can say that again. I like the scene where Claudin goes and strangles her.
C: You're too morbid for your own good.
E: What's wrong with that?
K: So, 1943 version seems to have your blessing. How about the 1962 Hammer version, directed by Terence Fisher, that is set in London instead of Paris? This version in many ways repeats the 1943 plotline, making Phantom again a poor musician, this time named Professor Petrie and played by Herbert Lom. However, this time the theft of his music is not imagined.
E: That slimy opera manager. Who needs me to be nasty when you have a villain like that running an opera house?
K: True. Michael Gough's performance as the slimy Lord Ambrose d'Arcy has received much credit.
C: The scene where he suggests to Christine for them to go to his apartment makes me gag.
E: And my blood boil. Though strangely, that is the only version that doesn't fill me with a desire to strangle the actor playing Raoul.
K: Hmm, Raoul in that version is a director named Harry Hunter, played by Edward de Souza. He doesn't come off as quite so…er, well…
E: Annoying? Foppish? Pretty boy?
K: Yeah, something like that. Though, the Phantom also has gone through a great change here, being more sympathetic and less murderous. Rumor has it that Gary Grant was supposed to play the part originally, so they tailored the script more befitting for the star.
E: That would have been Gerard Butler 42 years earlier.
C: I liked Herbert Lom in the part of Petrie. But I am not that fond of the scene where he slaps Christine.
K: Fans are neither. Also this is the only version where Phantom and Christine's relationship is just a teacher/student thing.
C: Kind of makes me happy we were separated by a wall when you tutored me.
E: I would have never hit you!
C: *pats Erik's arm* I know, darling. I'm just jesting here.
E: *smiles, then turns back* But seriously, what was with the dwarf character? Since when has there been a need for a henchman? The Phantom of the Opera has no need for such things!
C: *rolls her eyes*
K: That is probably also because of the possible Gary Grant involvement. Same kind of sidekick also appeared later in 1983 TV film. But before we get to that, there is Brian De Palma's 1974 rock'n'roll film "Phantom of the Paradise" to be discussed.
C: Is that the film where Phantom has the bird mask?
E: I thought I had taken a doze of opium when I saw it. Too bizarre.
K: It is a weird combination of tragic love, black humor, camp feeling, Phantom of the Opera, Faust and the Picture of Dorian Gray. It is hard to say what the makers wanted to achieve with it.
C: Truly. Raoul fainted halfway through the film when he saw it. But I did like the songs…
E: You did?
C: Yes, what's wrong with that? I think Paul Williams wrote great songs for the film. And Jessica Harper has such a beautiful voice.
E: Well, maybe the film was enjoyable in the end. I find the male version of Carlotta in the film hilarious. And at least it didn't have Raoul in it.
C: You can be so petty sometimes.
K: How about we'll take a little break and come back with more later?
K: While we're on break, would you care to answer to questions send by your loyal phans?
E,C: *look each others*
C: Well, why not. I'd be delighted to.
E: But just one question!
K: Alright then. Let me just pick one letter amongst these… very well, this is from Miss Lorien Urbani from Slovenia. She has questions for both of you. "Christine, does Erik spend much money on his clothes?"
C: *smiles* Girl, you have no idea how vain this man is.
E: *mumbles something incomprehensible*
C: Not only does the clothes he have has to be from the best of tailors, they become unusable for the most ridiculous reasons. He once threw perfectly good clothes away because, and I quote, he wasn't able to compose in them.
E: The color wasn't good for the rhymes.
K: *tries not to smile* Alright. Erik then. "Erik, I know you love Christine to the point that is...questionable, but, has there ever been a day when she ANNOYED you?"
E: Well one rooftop incident comes to mind. But annoyed? I'd say it was the time when she tried to learn to play organs.
K: *astonished* Really?
E: Yes, the whole thing started when she-
C: *icily* Erik…
E: Shutting up now.
K: *blinks* Well, there you have your answers, Miss Urbani.
K: And we're back. So then, Christine and Erik, what are your thoughts of the 1983 TV movie, starring Maximilian Schell, Jane Seymour and Michael York?
E: You have to admit, my character is the only positive thing in that film, which was obviously more inspired by 1962 film than the book.
C: *opens her mouth to say something but reconsiders* *sigh* Yes, I suppose you're right.
E: I mean, the villain in the film, once again an opera manager, is just poor man's Michael Gough. Love, your character is just a really bitchy.
C: Damn that Seymour…
E: And Raoul's…well, I really don't like any of his character's but in this he seems to not even give a damn about Christine. I can put up with the real vicomte more than this.
K: But you have no problems with your character in this film?
E: I didn't say that. I said he is the best thing about that horrid film. He has a dark menacing voice and a full mask. A full mask! *points to his own face* His makeup is also closest to my looks since Lon Chaney. But there are flaws also. I mean he seems to mistake Christine's character to his dead wife for some reason. And he too needs assistance of some ridiculous henchman. And how does he take his revenge on the opera manager who ruined his life? By killing him with a single crow! And then he dies…in the most ridiculous way: by falling to his own death with the chandelier.
C: Well, in 1962 film your character was crushed by the chandelier, yet you don't complain about that?
E: Yes, but he sacrificed himself to save your character's life. I can live with that.
C: …You're so sweet sometimes.
K: Ahem, yes, moving on then. Next would be the 1989 horror version, starring Robert Englund and Jill Schoelen.
C: *disgusted* Can't we, please, pretend that version doesn't exist?
E: What? It's a good version.
C: It's a terrible film, made for people who only enjoy death and violence. You sew human skin to your face!
E: *smiling* Maybe so, but I do like this version.
K: Why is that?
E: Firstly, my character kills both Carlotta and Raoul's character in it. Secondly, it is the only version, minus the musical, to feature me using a Punjab lasso. And thirdly, in all the other versions there is always a scene where Christine and Raoul *gag* kiss…but not in this one. But she does kiss the Phantom. Erik is very happy!
C: Oh no, not the creepy third persona talking.
K: So, Erik likes the Englund version, Christine does not. How about a film that came out the following year; 1990 TV film starring Charles Dance and Teri Polo, and based on Yeston/Kopit musical instead of Leroux's novel.
C: *brightens up* Now you're talking!
Erik: The sappy version?
C: The one who likes blood and gore has no right to criticize. I happen to like a great romantic movie. So sure, the story is all over the place, but it has a great touch with it. And I do love Charles Dance in the role.
E: *crosses his arms and looks away*
C: *smiles* You're just grumpy because his version was a gentleman enough to approach my character in flesh and pretend to be an anonymous teacher, while you pretended to be an angel.
E: *mumbles* Well it worked, didn't it?
K: So you enjoyed that movie then, Christine?
C: Oh yes, it was a wonderful to watch. I liked how my character was portrayed in it. I don't take sides, I care for both Erik and Raoul, even when both of them are complete idiots at times.
E: What I would like to know is what is it with my character having a mother complex? In both this version and that book by Susan something I supposedly fall in love with Christine just because she would resemble my mother. That's absurd!
C: *honestly curios* What color hair did your mother have?
E: *hesitates* …I can't remember. And another thing; is it just me or does from here on every Phantom have, you know, presentable face? I mean before the 1990 version every Phantom was at least somewhat hideous. But from here on…Charles Dance doesn't even show his face, Julian Sands has no makeup at all and that infernal Butler…
K: Ah, yes, we'll be getting to those in a minute. However before them, in 1995 Ronny Yu directed a remake of the 1937 Chinese film "Song at Midnight", this time titled as "The Phantom Lover". The film stared the late Hong Kong superstar Leslie Cheung as the Phantom and Chien-lien Wu as the woman he loves. How did the film seem to you when compared to the 1937 original?
E: Well, nearly 60 years had passed and remake had a bigger budget, so is it any wonder that technically and visually it's far more impressing than the original one? Story line has remained surprisingly same with the exception of the ending where… *dramatic pause* Phantom gets the girl! *grins*
C: I do like the songs Leslie Cheung wrote for the film; "The Phantom Lover", "Song at Midnight" and then his little Rome and Juliet song.
E: I could have made better ones.
K: Positive feedback from both of you, that's nice. Then how about the 1998 Italian version, directed by the 70's and 80's horror maestro Dario Argento?
K: Er, anything at all?
Erik: *darkly* Let's make one thing clear. I don't use rats for…that. Never have, never will. Period.
C: That version was wrong on so many levels.
C: I mean, he had no deformity…
C: My character just believes his promises for no apparent reason.
E: All over me…
C: Then he violets my character!
E: And the fop was the only likeable one in that film!
C: *trying to be friendly again* Music was nice though…
E: WHY, DARIO, WHY?!
K: All right, all right, minus points from both of you. Well, then we only have one more film to go with.
E: Don't tell me…
K: The 2004 musical adaptation, based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular stage version that opened in 1986. Directed by Joel Schumacher…
E: *whispering* Didn't that wacko we met in Gotham had some issues with this Schumacher fellow also?
C: *whispering* I think so, yes.
K: …and starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum in the two leading roles. What did you think of the actors?
E: Her actress was a good singer, mine was some wannabe rock'n'roll star.
C: Oh, come on, Mr. Butler could act a lot better than many of the other ones in the film. And it isn't really his voice that bothers you.
E: Damn right it isn't! What the hell were they thinking? They made me totally young and irresistible!
K: Most people would be flattered…
E: But it's missing the whole point! Do you think I would have spent years building myself a home beneath the Opera house if I had had his looks? He looked like being stung by a weak poisoned scorpion! I've seen sunburns more hideous than his face! And they claim he is an architectural genius, but after all those years in Paris Opera he still lives in a cave with billion candles? And that Webber even had the nerve to make his version of my Don Juan Triumphant!
C: The music was rather good.
E: No where near my range! If they had been played my Don Juan…they would have burned.
K: So…what about the movie itself?
C: Fantastic! Technically and visually spectacular! And the music is, even when some grumpy people disagree…
K: So you enjoyed it?
C: Very much, though I feel confused why my character describes that Phantom hardly has a face when he obviously is quite…er, good looking.
E: She should probably get glasses. All of them should. And if Webber is really going to make yet another musical of me I'll Punjab him, his family and car driver!
K: I'm sure Sir Andrew will take your warning to his heart. Well, that seems to be all the time we have for now. Erik and Christine, thank you for joining us tonight. We shall be in touch with you when a new version of your story will be made.
C: We are eagerly waiting to see those films also.
E: *mumbles something about Punjabs and fops*
And that's it, as said nothing amazing and simply just silly. Any thoughts you'd like to share, please review.
I admit that of those films that I mentioned, I like most of them. I am a die hard Gaston Leroux book fan, but aside of 1983 TV film and 1998 Dario Argento version, I like the other ones. Yes, I like both Robert Englund and Charles Dance versions, even when they are polar opposites.