Aug 26, 2011

Phantom of the Paradise (1974): A

Hyperbole be damned, I can see no reason not to say this: Phantom of the Paradise is one of the greatest musical films ever made. Brian De Palma's seminal creation is many things: an audacious statement from someone clearly aware of their own immense talent, a loving homage to horror tales past (the titularly invoked Phantom of the Opera; see also Frankenstein, Faust, and Caligari, among others), a scathing indictment of the business politics between consumers and producers, and even perhaps an autobiographical statement on De Palma's own creative processes and their always-problematic reception. Critics and audiences mostly passed on Phantom in its initial run, but even the Academy couldn't overlook the prodigious musical talent on display. Watching it is equal parts liberating and exhilarating; one images that making it was an act of absolute personal necessity. As horror or as comedy, the effect is phantasmagoric, volcanic, and profound, down to every last operatically schlocky detail. If you don't love it, I have to wonder what brings you to movies in the first place.

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