Friday, June 27, 2014

THEME ANALYSIS Phantom of the opera

Directors are probably some of the most manipulative people in our society today. Well, besides politicians. But a good old manipulative director, equals an amazing film. A superb example of a well-made film created by a manipulative director would be Phantom of the Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher. In the movie Joel manipulates the camera angles, lighting and color theory to take the viewers on an emotional voyage. In this film, three of his methods stand out and impress.  Those methods are the use of black to convey secrets and secrecy, white, to give the viewer a sense of purity and honesty, and finally the beloved screen flare which is used to emphasise the extremely critical scenes.  
       Black is a prominent color in the film, and therefore has a very important ties with the story line. It represents secrets and deceit, which makes up most of the plot line. A great example of the use of this technique is in a scene when Madam Giry is brushing her hair, and she is wearing white for the first and only time in the story. This takes place after she tells Raoul the big secret of the past of the Phantom of the opera, giving you the image of a big weight, the burden of the secret, being lifted off her shoulders. A second example would be of the scene when the phantom’s mask is removed by Christine, and for the first time you see his deformed face. After that, he proceeds to remove his jacket and he is left wearing white as well, for the first time ever. Just like with Madam Giry, after the secret is out, they proceed to be wearing white. Thusly, when the phantom is luring Christine into the cave leading to his lair, tricking her, he is always in his customary black suit and cape. His very identity a secret. A fourth noticeable use of this technique would be every time Christine gets a rose, which is beautiful enough to deceive her into smelling it, wrapped in a black silk ribbon. Said roses are obviously drugged, because every time she smells one she would get this far away expression on her face, obey and follow the Phantom.  If you also pay close attention to where the phantom is standing when he is not in his lair in the beginning, he is mostly always shrouded in black shadows. Further emphasising his secrecy.
White, like black, is incredibly prominent part of the film; for it is the ying to the yang that black is in the film. Just like black, white is used frequently and in strong ways. First, when Christine was singing for the first time on stage, she was wearing a pure white dress. Which, without a doubt, was used to emphasize her innocence and purity by displaying her beauty and youth.  A more minor use of this technique would be when all the girls are dancing a pure and sweet ballet, clothed in white dresses. This is right before the phantom kills the stage manager and drops him onto the stage, making the scene more intense. Another time this technique occurs is when, with pure intentions of solely saving Christine, Raoul chasses after her to the grave yard to save her from the phantom. He proceeds to protect her from the phantom by battling with swords, dressed in white, strongly resembling prince charming.  Also, throughout the story, Meg is always in white, but more specifically when she is looking out for Christine’s best intentions. Her image is purity in its self. For example, when Meg goes searching for Christine after her first performance, to make sure she was okay. Additionally, as mentioned previously, after Madame Giry admitted the secret of the Phantom of the opera, she wore white, getting back some of her purity through her honesty. As well, the best use of white is that throughout the duration of the movie, the phantom always wears a white mask, which is because he is trying to mask the impurity, deformation on his face, with the color of purity. It also gives the viewer hope that there is a form of purity inside him.

Finally, the last screen technique that was used in the Phantom of the Opera, the screen flare. By observing the diversity of each use of a screen flair, there are some examples that very effectively show that they used it to draw the audience’s eye to a certain person or thing of grave importance. In one word, screen flairs are used to say - importance. The first examples would take place at the beginning of the movie, when there is a screen flair placed over Raoul, Meg, Christine, Madam Geri and eventually the Phantom as well, to draw attention to the importance of the character it is framing. Each of these scenes are introductions to the main characters. Telling the audience to keep an eye on them, they are important. The next use of the screen flair is when the phantom was messing with the chains and ropes in the roof of the opera house, that would eventually cause the chandelier to fall and destroy the opera house, a screen flair is coming down through the window above him. It brings the eye to the chains and ropes specifically. Next, when Raoul is drowning in the trap set by the phantom, he looks up to see the freedom of oxygen beyond the cage wall descending. In form of the pied du vent shining through the cage bars, drawing attention to the importance of escape. Also, there is a screen flair when Christine kissed the Phantom, as he threatened the life of Raoul. It comes from behind them as they kiss, drawing your attention solely on the importance of the kiss. Before that in the film, there is a pied du vent coming from the chandelier, drawing attention to it as it goes back in time, being repaired and restored, as a foreshadowing of the destruction of the opera house through the crash of the chandelier. And last but not least, there is a screen flair after the phantom shatters the glass of the mirror, reveling the tunnel from which he escapes. It reflects off the shards of glass. Emphasizing how it is one of the most important scenes in the entire movie. It’s important because it’s the Phantoms escape, meaning he survives in the end.
                By using these tricks of film, Joel Schumacher’s work of art has gone on to win the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA 2005 award, the British Society of Cinematographers 2005 award, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award 2005, the National Board of Review USA 2004 award and the San Diego Film Critics Society Award 2004. Just to recap, the three most important color theory and lighting theory tricks Joel used were; Black as secrets and deception, white as purity and flair as importance. And because of his talent and intelligence, the Phantom of the Opera is a beloved film to this day.

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