1998 – Il fantasma

1998 – Il fantasma

1998 - Il fantasma

Eva Henger – Eva Henger
Alan Miller/Phantom – David Perry
Opera House Impresario – Chris Charming
Director – Joe d’Amato
Writers – Donna Dane, Gaston Leroux (novel)
Producers – Butterfly Motion Pictures
Director of Photography – Joe d’Amato (as Federiko Slonisko)
Editor – Kathleen Stratton

The scene is Venice in the present day, specifically the Teatro Odeon opera house. The background is that a fire there, more than twenty years earlier, claimed the life of a famous violinist, Alan Miller, and that his ghost is reputed to haunt the theatre, now fully rebuilt. The films begins as the heroine, Eva, a renown soprano, arrives to sing the role of Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata (all the subsequent interiors appear to show La Fenice, the theatre in Venice where the opera had its first performance in 1853, and which really was destroyed by fire, several times, most recently just two years before the film was made). Despite the acclaim that greets her performances, she is more interested in the figure, robed in black and wearing a white face-mask, that follows her around Venice, inside the theatre and out. She also finds herself attracted by a strange music, and discovers the Phantom playing the violin in the below-stage area, but when the two come face to face, both flee. He returns to her in her dreams, however, unmasked, to ravish her. Her apparent hallucinations continue while awake, too, as she encounters the Phantom several more times, including once in a scene with a number of doppelgangers—as in the finale of the 1960 comedy adaptation El fantasma de la opereta, but to very different narrative ends. Ultimately she unmasks him—there has never been any doubt that he is really Alan Miller, but whether alive or a figment of her overheated imagination is less clear—and the (mutual) ravishing continues, seemingly in one of the public salons of the theatre.

This basic story is fleshed out, as it were, with scenes of the theatre staff and other singers having sex in various combinations, and also, more unexpectedly, with scenes from the 1925 Universal Pictures version of The Phantom of the Opera used as backdrops, and, near the end, in superimposition when Lon Chaney’s iconic make-up briefly appears on Alan Miller’s face. (Historical set designs and other documents are used in a similar way.)

The film exists in at least two cuts, relatively more and less hard-core.


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