The Phantom – Julian Sands
Christine Daaé – Asia Argento
Baron Raoul De Chagny – Andrea Di Stefano
Carlotta Altieri – Nadia Rinaldi
Director – Dario Argento
Screenplay – Gérard Brach and Dario Argento
Novel – Gaston Leroux
Producer – Giuseppe Colombo
Editor – Anna Napoli
Music Composer, Orchestrator and Conductor – Ennio Morricone
Director of Photography – Ronnie Taylor
Production Designer – Antonello Geleng
Special Visual Effects – Sergio Stivaletti
Repertory music used in the film includes extracts from:
– Bizet, Carmen
– Chopin, Mazurka no 5 in B flat
– Delibes, Sylvia and Lakmé
– Gounod, Faust and Roméo et Juliette
The scene is Paris: a prologue shows a newborn baby abandoned by a poor couple in a Moses basket and set adrift in the Seine. It eventually finds its way to an underground lake, where it is the object of curiosity of the rats that live there… Then it is 1877, at the Opéra. Christine, singing alone in the empty auditorium, attracts the attention of a figure dressed in black. The Phantom (unmasked and moving freely about the house) meets her and both feel a strange mutual attraction. Later, she hears his voice in her head and goes to him; while they exchange words of love they are observed by a stagehand, who follows the Phantom to the entrance of his lair in the catacombs under the theatre. Baron Raoul De Chagny has also fallen in love with Christine; though she keeps her distance at first, it is clear that he moves her too.
Meanwhile, violent attacks have been occurring: three workmen are murdered in the depths of the Opéra building, and the rat-catcher is maimed when his hand is forced into one of his own traps and then bitten by the rodents. These events have already caught the attention of an investigative journalist. When the stagehand and his girlfriend go down into the catacombs to try to steal the treasure they believe Phantom must be hiding, they meet a similarly sticky end, as does one of the Opéra’s new directors while chasing a young member of the corps de ballet.
Christine is suggested as a replacement for the arrogant Carlotta when the latter is unwell, but during rehearsal, singing for the Phantom who is hidden in his usual box, she is overcome with emotion and faints. Soon after, she descends to the underground lake and crosses to his lair, where she sings for him as he plays the organ. The two become lovers. He tells her to stay there alone; she protests angrily. The Phantom goes to warn Carlotta not to sing but she ignores the warning, with the usual consequences: the chandelier crashes into the audience. When he returns to Christine to announce that the main role is now hers, she is still angry, and eventually escapes the lair. On the Opéra roof with Raoul, she admits her love for him; the watching Phantom is inconsolable.
Christine’s public debut as Juliette is interrupted by the rat-catcher, who has seen her with the Phantom and accuses her, on stage, of being the Phantom’s whore. In the confusion the Phantom leaps onto the stage and carries her off, swooning. Raoul and the police, as well as the rat-catcher and assorted stagehands, give chase. Christine rejects the Phantom and his insistence on a life together in the darkness, striking him, but her feelings for him return immediately afterwards. Raoul appears and shoots the Phantom. His dying concern is for Christine, now the target of the rat-catcher’s mob, and he entrusts her to Raoul, instructing him to row her to safety. The Phantom is overrun and dies with Christine sobbing ‘my love’.