October 18th, 2020

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haunted

i'm on a kick for old movies this year and especially movies from the 20s 30s and 40s. so for the halloween season i've been watching (or rewatching) several of the universal horror staples.

i didn't realize that the phantom of the opera was included in the werewolf-mummy-dracula club partly because i don't have a lot of exposure to it in general (other than being somewhat aware of the general plot and very familiar with numerous pop culture references and parodies over the years).

the 1925 spokendialogueless film (it's anything but silent) is fascinating. [it's also on the list of 1001 movies one simply must see before one dies, a list i'm not nearly as proficient at completing as i probably ought to be (which i guess it fine because it means i'm not dying anytime soon).]

all the more so because there is a piece of music on a theatre organ during the opening credits which include a man with a lantern creeping around what appears to be a subterranean stonework room, avoiding what is presumably the phantom whom we only see as a shadow on the wall. this piece of music sounds to me strikingly similar to the music from twin peaks: the return's episode 8 scene in which the giant ascends by levitation inside the white lodge theatre. not identical and i have very little knack for or erudition when it comes to analyzing and comparing instrumental music, but perhaps deliberately similar? my impression could just be due to the instrument itself, the theatre organ which seems in so many ways to be a creature only of its time and place, a rare thing (wiki says around seven thousand in the states at its height). ever since hearing it on the first airing i found the piece in twin peaks to be exceedingly haunting and moving. interesting too because apparently (according to wiki) the addition of the scene with the man with a lantern as a prologue is a bit a of a mystery itself.

the other tenuous connection i saw between the phantom and twin peaks is that the film unexpectedly (to me) uses color-tinting as an enhancement to the black and white photography and whole portions of the film are purple-tinted, yellow-tinted, blue-tinted, or green-tinted. the tint used has something of a relationship to the content of the scenes and those with the phantom are green. in twin peaks the scenes that take place in the mysterious fortress on a vast ocean are tinted purple (the scenes with the giant in the theatre are an ordinary black and white though). a wiki article on color-tinting claims that such tinting was used in more than 80 percent of films around 1920, so perhaps if anything it is a callback to films of that era generally and not phantom in particular.

also, can i say when i first saw the silhouetted phantom in the main body of the film it conjured up for me alfred hitchcock?