Das Phantom der Oper (or Das Gespenst im Opernhaus, The ghost in the opera house)
Erik the Phantom – Nils Olaf Chrisander
Christine Daaé – Aud Egede-Nissen
The Persian – Ernst Matray
Director – Ernst Matray
Writer – Greta Schröder (as Greta Schroeder Mátray, after Gaston Leroux’s novel)
Producer – Jules Greenbaum (as Julius Greenbaum)
Director of Photography – Mutz Greenbaum
Production company – Greenbaum-Film, Berlin
Length – 76 min, i.e. c.1380 m (5 reels) of 35 mm negative
Cinematographic process – spherical
Print – 35 mm, black and white, 1.33:1
Audio – silent
This is a lost film, which is a great pity for two main reasons. First, it represents the first known screen adaptation of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, dating from only six years after the publication of the original novel, which came out in instalments in Le Gaulois between 23 September 1909 and 8 January 1910, and in volume form immediately thereafter (Paris: Lafitte, 1910). Second, given what was happening in German cinema at the time, there is reason to hope that it might have prefigured the striking Expressionist aesthetic of Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (The cabinet of Dr Caligari), released there less than four years later.
This synopsis is from the Austrian trade publication Paimann’s Filmlisten no 19 (4 May 1916), page 2: ‘Fantastic drama with Aud Egede Nissen. During the construction of an opera house, its designer has installed various mechanical and technological contrivances through which he can secretly access the rooms in the cellar. When illness prevents the diva from appearing as Gretchen [in Faust], the designer—in the guise of an old regular visitor to the opera known by the name ‘Phantom’—recommends an ingénue to the director to take her place; the director accepts. The ingénue’s appearance proves a success, only for her to then find herself held captive in the underground rooms by the ugly Phantom, who is in love with her. She is rescued by her fiancé and a Persian, while the master builder meets with his death. The subject matter is good, and the photography, acting and sets very good.’
The network would be delighted to hear from anyone with any further information or material on this film.
With thanks to: ‘Rojaki’ on photobucket.com, David Robinson (former Director of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival).