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Phantom of the Opera

Christine Daae is singer in the Paris Opera House choir when a series of events lift her suddenly into a breakthrough leading role. Her suitor, Raoul, hopes that she will marry him now her ambition to star in the opera has been realized, but he has a mysterious—and deadly—rival for her attention.

Of the many film versions of "The Phantom of the Opera" available, film history buffs often cite the 1925 version starring Lon Chaney, Senior as the most faithful adaptation of the 1911 novel by French mystery author Gaston Leroux. We here at UEN SciFi Friday love it for the dynamic performances, Art Deco era staging and how beautifully it exemplifies the silent film genre.

Silent films actors needed to convey a full range of emotions without the benefit of voice. Typically, make-up to emphasize the eyes was used for men as well as women to help ensure their expressions would carry. Without voice, actors were doubly dependent on choosing gestures and attitudes that enhanced the drama for viewers. Lon Chaney, Senior was an expert in silent film acting, accruing more than 150 screen credits. His early death at 47 cut short his transition into talkies (films with soundtracks), but his performance in "The Unholy Three" suggests he may have been one silent film star who could have succeeded in the new regime.

UEN SciFi Friday's version of "The Phantom of the Opera" has a soundtrack inspired by film history itself. When silent films appeared in theaters, they would be accompanied, sometimes by an orchestra, often by a lone organist or pianist who would more or less improvise the music, adding his or her own flourishes and style. We hope you enjoy!

The Science

Sarah Null

Sarah NullAssistant Professor Sarah Null of the Center for Watershed Sciences at Utah State University discusses science and the 1925 film The Phantom of the Opera.

 

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