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T H E   P H A N T O M   O F   T H E   O P E R A (credit: wikipedia.org)


Derived from the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which was based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, the film begins in 1919, as the effects of a dilapidated Paris Opera House are being sold off at auction. Raoul the Vicomte de Chagny (Patrick Wilson), now an old wheelchair-bound man, purchases a coveted music box. During the auction, Raoul spots a familiar figure: Madame Giry (Miranda Richardson), whom he met as a young man. Madame Giry is now an old woman, almost 50 years later. But he is distracted by the next piece for auction, Lot 666; a chandelier in pieces which has been restored and newly electrically wired. As the auctioneers display the restored chandelier, the opening crescendo of music wipes away the years of decay from the opera house as the black and white turns into color, and the audience is transported back in time to 1870, the beginning of the story, when the opera was in its prime.


A disfigured musical genius called "The Phantom," (Gerard Butler), lives within the deepest recess of the opera house. Tormented by his scarred face, the Phantom lives in the watery labyrinths beneath the Opéra Populaire in Paris. After nearly ten years of quiet obsession with the delicate, ethereal voice of Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum) and the beautiful young soprano herself, he plots to place his protégé at center stage.


Christine is caught between her love for Raoul, her childhood sweetheart who has returned into her life, and her fascination and pity for the Phantom. Jealous and possessive, the Phantom plots to make Christine his, resorting to stalking her wherever she goes as well as killing several people including Piangi. A swordfight later ensues in the cemetery, where Raoul eventually disarms him and is about to kill him when Christine pleads for him not to, "not like this." His rage seemingly augmented, the Phantom angrily states as Christine and Raoul walk away: "Now, let it be war upon you both." During the night's play, he steals Christine away and avoids the trap to be captured by Raoul and the managers. After a series of tense, chaotic sequences, including dropping the chandelier (the one from the beginning of the movie) and setting the opera house on fire, the Phantom imprisons Raoul, who attempts to save Christine, and threatens to strangle him to death if Christine does not choose the Phantom.


Struck by the desperation of his actions as well as a revelation of how dark his past must be, Christine kisses the phantom and displays her pity and compassion for him. Her kindness and the love in her eyes so deeply touches the Phantom that, ashamed of what he's done, he allows Christine and Raoul to leave. Just before she departs with Raoul on the boat, Christine approaches the Phantom, who helplessly tells her that he loves her, and gives him the diamond ring from her finger. Heartbroken, the Phantom begins to cry. Christine and Raoul row away singing to each other and Christine glances back at the Phantom. After they leave, the Phantom then uses a candelabra to smash every mirror in his underground lair and he disappears behind a velvet curtain into an empty glass mirror portal, before the police arrive. Upon entering, Meg, the ballet mistress's daughter, finds only the Phantom's white mask.


Later, the grainy black and white picture dominates as the elderly Raoul rides to a cemetery where he goes to visit Christine's tomb, which reveals that she died only two years before, in 1917, at age 63. Her tombstone says "Vicomtess of Chagny" and "beloved wife and mother", suggesting she married Raoul, had children and died of old age. He lays the toy monkey at her grave site, and notices that on the left of the tombstone lies a red rose with a black ribbon tied around it (a trademark of the Phantom) with the engagement ring attached to it.


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