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The Phantom of the Opera - Joel Schumacher Q&A



Compiled by: Lizzie Guilfoyle

Q. Tell us about the challenges presented to you in taking on a global phenomenon and bringing it to the big screen. Because expectations are enormous when you take on something like this, that everyone thinks they're so familiar with.
A: You can't think of that because then you won't do it. So I think, for me, well of course, they asked me to do this in 1988, so I had a little time to think, after Andrew [Lloyd Webber] saw The Lost Boys and we were going to make it in 1990, which some of you may remember, with Michael and Sarah.
We were going to shoot it in Munich and Prague and then, for a whole list of personal and professional reasons, Andrew had to abort it at that time. But we stayed friends and when I was doing post-production on Veronica Guerin here in 2002, it came up again.
We were having Christmas dinner, so it was just about two years ago. I just approached it as if it was a new task and the first thing I said to Andrew was, 'you know if you analyze the story, Christine must be very young. And she must be innocent. It just has to be the awakening of many things in her life'.
And I said, 'I need a very young cast to do this story. It's really a tragic young love story. If there are famous young people that can do it, great, if there are none, then I want to have the freedom to cast whoever I think is right for the part'. And Andrew said, 'that's fine but they all have to do their own singing'. And that was our deal and that's how we started.
I didn't know I was going to find these two young people, but that's where we started from, two years ago.

Q. The chandelier scene comes at the end of part one in the stage show. Here you've integrated it into the climax of the film. Was that your decision?
A:
That was actually Andrew's idea. I'd like to take credit for it because I thought it was a great structural change, but here's the problem. It's a great first act break, but if you smash the chandelier and kill hundreds of people, and burn the theatre down in the middle of the movie, I didn't know what I'd do with the second half, because, I mean, where are they? In a new theatre or something? And that they built it very quickly! And that's sort of swept over in the play, which they can get with murder or not. It works for them, but when I told Andrew the problem, he said 'why don't we move it to the end?' And it makes all the difference because it was very important to the film to have the burnt out hull of the theatre for Patrick to come back to in his dotage in his wheelchair. It made sense for the Phantom to do it as a final act which was almost to destroy something that he loved, so he's really destroying his home in a sense. He's really ending so much of his past life at that moment, and also, in that very act that will obviously maim and kill hundreds of people, and burn down this opera house that has been his home and his love, it shows you how twisted his mind has become. He really has gone way, way, way, way over the edge.

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