2009 – Angel of Music

2009 – Angel of Music

Angel of Music, 2009

Kristen’s Mother – Helen Asbury
Young Kristen – Quinn Austin
Raymond – Jordan Baranowski
Inspector – Bill Behrendt
Casting Agent – Alexandria Casey
Jacques Rousseau – Michael Scott Casey
Meg – Anita Cordell
Young Eric – Nehemiah Deason
Eric – Doug Kisgen
Kristen – Lisa J. Mader
Director and Editor – John Woosley
Writers – Jason Vivone and John Woosley
Production company – Lighthouse Limited Pictures
Producers – Leslie Nottingham/Brian Knapp/Jason Vivone
Place of production – Lawrence, KS
Composer – Doug Rottering
Director of Photography – Isaac Alongi
Costumes – Joyce Walsh
Props – Imani Glasgow
Makeup – Gina Boyce

The film originated in a low budget, student project as a period adaptation of the novel, under the title Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. It evolved into a development of the novel’s story, principally through an imagined child of the Phantom (Erik) and Christine Daaé – a similar device to that in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2010 musical, Love Never Dies. The film states its premise before the title:

The Phantom of the Opera was based on true events. Since publication questions have been raised about the story’s authenticity. Rumours circulated that Christine Daaé, the story’s heroine, had given birth. A cult emerged to protect Christine’s bloodline. Through terror and violence, the Cult succeeded… Years passed… Fact became Fiction… People forgot Eric Nelson is getting closer… The Cult is watching.

Eric, a failing journalist, becomes increasingly obsessed with uncovering the true story of the Phantom of the Opera. He hopes that regaining his previous professional success will also regain him the love of his wife, Kristen. He becomes increasingly unstable, projecting events in Leroux’s story onto his own life. The film intercuts period scenes (filmed with green screen and matte painting) at the Paris Opera House relatively faithful to Leroux’s storyline with contemporary ones of Eric, Kristen and their collapsing marriage. Eric’s projections are eventually revealed as a side effect of hallucinogenic drugs given to him by one of the cult in an attempt to prevent his discovering the truth. Another cult member, Raymond, falls for Kristen while befriending her as part of his undercover role. Eric projects himself as the Phantom, with Kristen as Christine and Raymond as Raoul trying to take her away. He is haunted by the song of the ‘Angel of Music’, a direct result of being in love with Kristen (as her mother eventually reveals to him).

The dénoument stretches chronology and narrative to extremes. Kristen’s elderly mother wants the Phantom blood line to end: she is revealed as Christine herself, with the Phantom (Erik) as her father, her lover and Kristen’s father.  Murders follow. As the film states at its conclusion:

Eric’s quest for the truth cost him his life. The Cult remains active today. The bloodline was destroyed. The secret remains… For now.

The limited resources of the film’s production are apparent throughout: shot in mundane locations in and around Lawrence, Kansas, with basic visual effects, obvious vocal dubbing and, in its final edit, running at 43 minutes (half its original intended cut). Director John Woosley wrote of his experiences in making the film in Angel of Music: Making an Indy Film about The Phantom of the Opera (Simple Publishing, 2009). The music of the Phantom’s Don Juan Triumphant is realized in some 20 seconds of piano music (timecode: 00.19.35) in a flashback sequence that leads to the unmasking, as in the famous scene of the 1925 silent film.

John Snelson


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