I just want to point
out that there’s a part in the 1990s Magneto miniseries where a
female Acolyte beats Fabian unconscious in front of three other
Acolytes and NONE OF THEM TRY TO STOP HER OR QUESTION WHY SHE DID IT
I’m going to start posting some of the ‘zine covers from my digitization project! Some serious vintage Phantom fan stuff; some of these are literally over a quarter century old, and a very neat look at the fan community of yore.
Today, these are issues of The Mask: Tales from the Underground, published between 1990 and 1994; each has a front cover and a back cover with art. The Mask was a fanfiction ‘zine containing stories revolving around both the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera as well as the 1990 TV miniseries The Phantom of the Opera with Charles Dance, and also stories about the 1987 TV series Beauty and the Beast with Ron Perlman in the title role.
I only have issues 1, 2, and 5 of this ‘zine, most likely because issues 3, 4, 6, and 8 are exclusively devoted to Beauty and the Beast and weren’t included in the package I was donated. I haven’t been able to find a copy of issue 7, which is all based on Phantom, so if anyone has information about it, let me know!
Cover artwork, front and back, for all three issues is by Janet Meehan, although I haven’t managed to find any online presence for her to link to.
I had to resize these issue covers about ten times; archival-quality TIFF images, even when squashed down to JPG size, are a little too hefty for Tumblr to manage!
Ok so...i know and have seen what is the 25th anniversary of POTO and the 2004 film. Can you reccomend more to me?
Heck yes, I can!
The 1990 miniseries, based on the Yeston and Kopit musical. This is probably my favorite film adaptation. I have a few quibbles with it (WHY DOES ERIK HAVE TO HAVE AN AMERICAN ACCENT? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. BRING BACK THE ENGLISH ONE), but overall, it’s the only Phantom adaptation I can think of that takes the time to develop Erik’s character—including actually giving him a name! And the right name, at that. He’s very snarky in this one, reminiscent of Kay’s Erik, which I love. And yay! Blonde Christine! Carlotta’s also fabulous in this version.
The 1925 silent film in all of its melodramatic glory. You can’t not like this, cheesiness aside. It’s a must-see for any Phantom fan.
Big Finish’s radio adaptation is absolutely fantastic if you can get your hands on it. I don’t think it’s very expensive. I keep it permanently on my iPod and listen to it whenever I need a good Leroux fix. Wonderful voice acting (…..although the actress playing Christine is….meh…), especially Raoul and Erik. Oh, my gosh, James D’Arcy is one of the best Raouls ever. He’s fantastic. And the Persian plays a HUGE role in this. He’s also fantastic. So is Madame Giry. I LOVE it. Andre and Firmin are absolutely brilliant, as well. Now that I think about it, this is one of my favorite Phantom adaptations ever.
The 1943 Claude Rains version, which I have never seen! I really, really, REALLY need to watch this one, mostly because Susanna Foster actually sang for the part.
The 1962 Herbert Lom version, which I saw and, I’m just going to be honest here, I did not like at ALL. Good Lord, it was bad. So bad. At least, in my opinion. The acting was wooden, the plot lagged, and Erik inexplicably has this Igor-type henchman who is just the most distracting addition ever.
The 1983 version. I never finished this one because I remember being exceptionally bored. Jane Seymour looks beautiful as the Christine character, though, so I suppose there’s that.
The 1989 Robert Englund version. (WARNING. HERE THAR BE SPOILERS…This is a clip from it…I couldn’t find the film itself). Okay, hammer horror ridiculousness aside, there are actually elements of this version that I really like. Erik gets some fantastic lines, and the score is really beautiful. I also love the time-traveling aspect of it. But it’s a very gory, vicious, serial-killer-esque Erik, a far cry from Webber’s suave, passionate Erik.
The Dario Argento version. This one has become somewhat of a legend in the fandom because it is easily the worst Phantom film ever made. It is so bad, it’s good. It’s so bad, that Erik isn’t even deformed. He just has 90s grunge rocker hair and a thing for rats…..he really likes rats. I mean he really. Likes. Rats. On his face. On his back. Down his trousers. This version makes absolutely no sense and it is hysterically awful. To top it all off, the woman who plays Christine is the director’s daughter. This would not necessarily pose a problem were it not for the gratuitous sex scenes she stars in throughout the film, which were doubtless acted out in front of Daddy Argento. It’s a disaster.
The 1980s animated version. Campy and cheesy to the max and the voice acting and animation are awful, but it’s actually the most Leroux-faithful adaptation out there, which I really appreciate. I also appreciate the periwinkle blue leisure suit the animators dressed Erik in. We need more blue leisure suit Erik. That would have lightened the mood a bit.
The Phantom of the Paradise, which I’ve never seen. People seem to enjoy this adaptation quite a bit. I will watch it eventually, but I’m not keen on discotheque Erik. Unless he wears his blue leisure suit to get down with his bad self on the dance floor.
The Yeston and Kopit musical. which, as I mentioned before, inspired the 1990 miniseries. Again, I love the fact that Erik’s character is really fleshed out here, though I’m not too big on several plot elements and some of the music. All in all, though, this is a fun adaptation.
The David Staller version, which is another one that’s so bad, it’s good. It quite clearly rips off several elements from Webber’s musical, except this Erik takes it up a notch with a bedazzled mask. The Phantom Reviewer pointed out that David Staller sounds like Sideshow Bob from this Simpsons when he laughs, and now I can’t un-hear it. The acting is dreadful, except for a really great scene involving Erik pranking the managers, which I really, really like.
Speaking of The Phantom Reviewer, if you haven’t already, go check out his hilarious YouTube channel. He covers pretty much every single adaptation—film, music, books, you name it—and he’s a great resource for tracking down all things Phantom. And he’s so funny, holy crap. I would like to personally shake this man’s hand for the amount of times his videos have made me laugh.
I hope this helps! I am clearly not obsessed with this story. Not in the slightest.
It's not just the fan art though. I've only seen two versions of Phantom where they cast a blonde. The one with Claude Rains and the tv miniseries based on the Arthur Kopit script. (Which is also a musical by him & Maury Yeston.) Heck, even the animated Phantom has Christine as a brunette instead of a blue eyed blonde! And no mention of her vision trouble. I also feel she doesn't wear glasses because she can't afford them, not because her vision doesn't bother her.
Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera is another version that typically features a blonde Christine.
Many versions of Phantom, like the animated movie, draw inspiration from the 1925 silent film in depicting Christine (often by way of ALW’s Phantom from 1986 on, since Mary Philbin was an inspiration for ALW!Christine’s look). Again, whereas if I had my druthers, all productions would feature a Christine that looked as Leroux described her, I am less concerned with her appearance, and more interested in how her character is represented.
This is similar to Erik. Whereas my headcanons are all based in Leroux, and so in my mind Erik’s face looks like a death’s head, I am okay with certain other facial deformities (e.g. the deformity developed for Michael Crawford’s Phantom) so long as they fulfill three criteria: they have to be severe enough to result in social ostracization in 19th century Europe (so the 2004 movie deformity is out); they have to be present from birth (so the scarred by acid, fire, etc. deformities are out); and they can’t be the result of some action on the part of Erik’s mother, like an abortifacient (so the Kopit miniseries/musical deformity is out). In my headcanon, at least, Erik has a (fictional) medical condition that is responsible for his facial features and jaundiced skin color, etc. (though poor diet and self neglect may play a part in his extreme thinness).
But back to Christine. In Arthur Kopit’s 1990 miniseries, Teri Polo was a blonde Christine who even looked similar to Andre Castaigne’s famous illustration of Christine from the 1st American Edition of The Phantom of the Opera:
And yet, despite her being a good match in terms of looks, the Christine that Polo developed, along with Kopit and director Tony Richardson, was quite different from Leroux. She was not nearly as strong and self-possessed as her Lerouxian counterpart. This went along with the weakening of Charles Dance’s Erik, as compared to Leroux’s character. So whereas I enjoy looking at stills of Teri Polo’s Christine, I am not as fond of her performance.
The animated film, on the other hand, despite featuring a brunette Christine, is much more in keeping with the spirit of Christine’s character. In the animated film, as in Leroux’s novel, Christine is portrayed as a strong, independent young woman who doesn’t put up with either Raoul’s or Erik’s domineering behavior or lack of respect for her autonomy.
So even though Animated!Christine has dark hair and eyes, I find her to be more Leroux-accurate than Teri Polo’s character.
Finally, as for Christine’s eyesight, Leroux described her as “un peu myope,” so that is how he was envisioning her — a little nearsighted. There is no indication that she was severely nearsighted. Her slight myopia allowed her to “see” the korrigans dance in the moonlight, and may also have contributed to her imagining the men who tended the boilers in the Opera House cellars as demons tending their fires.
It is possible that she didn’t wear spectacles because they were not considered particularly fashionable for women of that day, and perhaps, as you’ve suggested, she couldn’t afford a lorgnette, which is what ladies of the social elite used. Though in “The Enchanted Violin,” Leroux describes that Christine is dressed as a Parisian lady wearing a fur coat, so she can’t have been so poor that a lorgnette would have been out of the question. Furthermore, spectacles for women in the 1800s were not unheard of, so my guess is that Leroux just didn’t intend Christine’s eyesight to be poor enough to warrant serious correction: