Phantom of the Opera discussion

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All Things Phantom!! > Leroux's book or Webber's musical?

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message 1: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 277 comments It's a simple question. The answer, however, is another matter.

G. Leroux's book hit me like a freight train when I first read it, and if there was anything needed to cause greater impact, it was A. L. Webber's music. I personally think you have to consider these works as separate entities that just happen to be telling the same story.
With the book, we get a better idea of just how profound the darkness in Erik's soul really is. There's not a whole lot of light there at all. We see how difficult Christine's situation was: On one hand, she loves Raoul, but has to keep him safe from Erik's wrath. On the other hand, she fears Erik, but returns to him because of the strength of her pity for him. She's more of a heroine in the book, but Raoul and Erik are a little less appealing.
In the musical, Erik is less of a monster. Our attraction to him isn't as much of a morbid fascination. He's more charismatic, mysterious, even hypnotizing. His dark side doesn't become fully known until Don Juan Triumphant. Raoul is more mature and more capable here. True, Erik still caught him, but had Raoul been less noble and not gone after Christine we wouldn't love him so much. As for Christine, I think "saint" covers it.


message 2: by L. (new)

L. (weavelin) | 34 comments Ever since the 2004 film came out, the answer has been Leroux's original novel for me. The original is infinitely more fascinating and darker to me, plus the social commentary and format of the book keeps me highly entertained.

I prefer my batty, controlling Erik to ALW's suave, tortured genius--he's more interesting and realistic to me that way--and because I'm so prone to jealousy in my romantic relations, I identify with Raoul almost to the letter.

As for Christine, I prefer her far more in the original novel because her behavior is completely characteristic of a good girl in a bad situation and blind spot for her Problem. There are times when I want to beat her senseless for being an idiot and not letting her willing loved ones help her out of the danger.

I don't really feel those emotions anymore when I'm listening to/watching ALW's version anymore. The music is plagiarized and I can separate his behavior from his music anymore.

...But that's what Sunset Boulevard is for!


message 3: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) Lindsay wrote: "As for Christine, I prefer her far more in the original novel because her behavior is completely characteristic of a good girl in a bad situation and blind spot for her Problem. There are times when I want to beat her senseless for being an idiot and not letting her willing loved ones help her out of the danger."

Christine is a textbook example of an Electra complex in action.


message 4: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 277 comments One of the biggest differences I've noticed is in the atmospheres of the climaxes. In the book, it's all about the suspense. Occasionally, the Persian's narration breaks it a bit, but the fact that he and Raoul were in the torture chamber listening to Erik and Christine on the other side of the wall made the horror of the situation all the more real. In the musical, it's all catharsis with a beautiful rising tension and release. It's hard to say which I like the best.


message 5: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Ong (KimberlyO) | 1 comments It's leroux's book. In My syllabus, we did a whole study on this for literature.


message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily  (toofondofbooks_) i feel like i can't choose between them because i love them both. i feel like they both impact me so significantly. like, if one existed without the other, the entire idea of Phantom wouldn't be the same for me.


message 7: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 277 comments Emily Christine wrote: "i feel like i can't choose between them because i love them both. i feel like they both impact me so significantly. like, if one existed without the other, the entire idea of Phantom wouldn't be th..."

I feel exactly the same way. They're very different, and I like them for different reasons, but I have to have them both.


message 8: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 1 comments All of you have made some valid points while comparing and contrasting both the original Gaston Le roux novel and the ALW musical/movie. I will simply say although both are excellent forms of entertainment for me, I will have to go with the movie, for that is what originally turned me to become a POT fan. Plus, I prefer the more seductive,mystical,tortured soul Erik versus the more vicious,darker Erik in the books.


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* (thepiratewench) | 413 comments Mod
Natalie wrote: "All of you have made some valid points while comparing and contrasting both the original Gaston Le roux novel and the ALW musical/movie. I will simply say although both are excellent forms of enter..."

I totally agree with you on that one Natalie!


message 10: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid I would also agree with Natalie said. Hundred percent!


message 11: by L. (new)

L. (weavelin) | 34 comments I'm probably the most unromantic person on the face of the planet, which might explain why the overly-romantic version of Erik created by ALW, particularly in the film, bores me to tears now. I can't watch the 2004 film without wanting to slap Erik at the end and tell him to grow a pair. I prefer the deeply troubled, frightening Erik of the book... the book is far more interesting to me in terms of history, literary tradition, and character portrayal.

Plus, I like Raoul and the musical just turns him into a cardboard, heroic archetype without a solo number.


message 12: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) Vicki wrote: "I think Leroux's book gives you a deeper insight to the characters. It's a good thing to study to help you understand the play on a deeper level."

I have to agree with this. Unless you understand wha'ts going on in the original story, you won't get the subtext of the musical at all.

Raoul is far more heroic in the musical than he is in the book, though; he's a whining,hand-wringing twit in the book, and I wanted to slap him fairly often.


message 13: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 277 comments I love talking with you ladies!

As to wanting to slap Erik or Raoul on occasion, I think they all have their moments, Christine included. Yet the beauty of it is that they also have my sympathy. They're all so wonderfully human, I'm not entirely convinced I don't sometimes think they really lived.


message 14: by Anne (new)

Anne (spartandax) | 102 comments Mod
Natalie, I agree with you. Back in the 1950's I saw the 1943 version of POTO with Claude Raines. I still felt bad for him, and the story stayed for me all those years.
It was not however until I saw the 2004 movie that I truly came to love the Phantom as a character. Gerry has the ability to put every emotion into him, but i still cried over the man who only wanted to be loved by someone. That is why I wrote my book, "The Phantom's Redemption." At the time I was writing my book, the only one I read was the original Leroux book. Although I loved te book, I was not as enchanted by his Erik as I was by ALW's. I am a romantic, and I saw Erik as something so much better. I read Susan Kay's book, and although i think it was extremely well written, it made me terribly sad. Paisley's book is wonderful, "Chanson De L'Ange" book 1, as she too sees him more like I do. There are many people who do not like the Phantom to be romanticized, even from the play to the movie, where there are differences. They see him as dark and evil, whereas I feel anyone can be redeemed. it is amazing, however, how much that book written in 1910 has influenced so many people since ALW wrote his play.
I LOVE Erik.


message 15: by Emily (new)

Emily  (toofondofbooks_) i love Paisley's book so much <3


message 16: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 14 comments Ugh they were both amazing. The book was very good but the movie was more romantic.


message 17: by Ingrid (new)

Ingrid I am quite the romantic personally, but the book was good. The movie was what I saw first and fell in love with, the book came second. And that is the way they are in my hierarchy. Movie first. Book second.


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* (thepiratewench) | 413 comments Mod
For me..play first,book 2nd then the movie..


message 19: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) I came to the whole thing via the book (which I read before some of the participants here were born ... I'm old, y'all). Various film versions followed, then the play.


message 20: by L. (new)

L. (weavelin) | 34 comments Sharon wrote: "I came to the whole thing via the book (which I read before some of the participants here were born ... I'm old, y'all). Various film versions followed, then the play."

That's the proper way, in my opinion!

My first exposure was actually the Wishbone version of the story, then several years later I encountered the musical... but a few years later, after watching every film and reading every book I could get my hands on, I started leaning more towards the original novel being my primary source of Phantom. I don't listen to the musical much anymore, to be honest.


message 21: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 277 comments There's a Wishbone version?

I came to the book first, which appeals to my dark(er) side, but I still love the musical. It's the romantic in me.


message 22: by L. (new)

L. (weavelin) | 34 comments Gemma Irene wrote: "There's a Wishbone version?"

There certainly is! Wishbone plays Raoul, Philippe is black, and Erik (if memory serves) looks a bit like the Herbert Lom Phantom... It's pretty cute altogether.

I'd imagine you can YouTube it these days.


message 23: by Gemma (new)

Gemma | 277 comments Thanks! I just might do that.


message 24: by Thalia (new)

Thalia (thaliaanderson) | 136 comments This is a hard one for me, since I was five when I first saw the play. I definitely wasn't ready to tackle the novel at that time, and it wasn't until years later, when I'd already developed a deep love for the musical, that I was able to read the book. It didn't hit me as hard, because I'd already fallen in love with everything that was in the play. Unlike Lindsay, I prefer the tortured genius Phantom to the just crazy one. I'm also a romantic, and Phantom's heartbreaking story told in the musical breaks me into pieces, and it's that that connects me to it all so much more than anything else. The tragedy. And I just don't seem to feel it quite as much when I read the book.

They're both beautiful, but the musical just has a deeper and more special place in my heart.


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* (thepiratewench) | 413 comments Mod
Thalia wrote: "This is a hard one for me, since I was five when I first saw the play. I definitely wasn't ready to tackle the novel at that time, and it wasn't until years later, when I'd already developed a deep..."

I totally agree with you Thalia..the musical by far reaches a deeper part in us POTO fans :)


message 26: by Ann (new)

Ann | 30 comments It will always be Leroux's book for me, although I first learned about Phantom through the ALW musical (courtesy of my Broadway-enlightened relatives).
Lindsay's comment about the "batty, controlling Erik" made laugh but it is so true. For me, the book Erik seems more believable, interesting, terrifying...and ultimately the most human at the very end.


message 27: by Ian (last edited Apr 14, 2017 08:38PM) (new)

Ian Holmqvist (acdcfan) | 15 comments I prefer the musical for a couple reasons.
1. The music
2. I like the character of Erik in the musical
3. The musical makes me cry!!!!!!!!!


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