For: strong pervasive sensuality, lust and voyeurism, incestuous behaviors, strong moral confusion and humanism, brief nudity, and borderline necromancy
The Phantom of the Opera is a spectacular musical soaked in violence, perversion, sensuality and injustice, to a degree where enjoying the movie becomes tantamount to enjoying the immorality. While the adventures of the singing psychopath and his lustful prey may be stylistically superior to the next 1980's musical in line, they should also utterly repulse the Christian conscience.
NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF AND DIRECT QUOTES FROM The Phantom of the Opera WHICH ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR READING BY PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF FIFTEEN
Strong Pervasive Sensuality, Lust and Voyeurism
The Phantom of the Opera features a number of songs about illicit sex, sung in highly sensual settings, by sensually dressed (or undressed) positively-portrayed characters.
The multiple seduction songs include lines such as:
Phantom - “You have come here in pursuit of your deepest urge / I have brought you that our passions may fuse and merge / In your mind you’ve already succumbed to me / Dropped all defenses—completely succumbed to me / Abandon thought, and let the dream descend / What raging fire shall flood the soul? / What rich desire unlocks its door? / What sweet seduction lies before us? / The final threshold! / What warm, unspoken secrets will we learn / Beyond the point of no return?”
Christine - “In my mind I’ve already imagined our bodies entwining / Past all thought of right or wrong / One final question—how long should we two wait, before we’re one? / When will the blood begin to race? / When will the flames at last consume us?...”
Phantom - “Night time sharpens—heightens—each sensation / Darkness stirs and wakes imagination / Silently the senses abandon their defenses / Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams / Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before / Floating, folding, sweet intoxication / Touch me, trust me. Savor each sensation / Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in / To the power of the music of the night...”
Scenes focus on the Phantom running his hands all over the teenage Christine’s breasts, abdomen, hips and bare thighs.
Throughout the film, Christine vacillates between uncertainty and deliberately seductive behavior toward the Phantom, and is not negatively portrayed for doing so. She is shown smiling as the Phantom leads her toward his bedroom.
There are also sadistic and masochistic overtones in the sexually charged scenes between the Phantom and Christine, as the more physically violent his embrace gets, and the more ominous the tone of the music, the more erotic pleasure Christine manifests.
The Phantom has a one-way mirror into Christine’s bedroom where she undresses, and has created a life-sized wax doll of her which he keeps in his lair.
For a significant portion of the movie, Christine has a few theories about the nature of the Phantom she has this strong sexual attraction to, one of which is that he is her father’s spirit. Raoul, her other love interest, tries to convince her that “whatever you may believe, this man—this thing—is not your father!” The portion of the film in which Christine harbors the belief that the Phantom may be her father includes her eager participation in one of the seduction songs, and the scene where she takes erotic pleasure in allowing the Phantom to run his hands all over her body.
Strong Moral Confusion and Humanism
The Phantom gets away with an incredible number of sins (crimes, even) in the movie, which no sane, morally upright person would attempt to justify in a real life individual (for instance, a high school music teacher).
The Phantom is shown engaging in what would now be termed statutory rape or child sexual abuse with the fifteen or sixteen year old1 Christine.
He also engages in kidnapping (persuasive and coercive, both), stalking (jealousy, surveillance, harassment, a life-size wax replica of the victim, and a one-way mirror from his lair into her bedroom), and psychological manipulation and mental abuse (“My power over you grows stronger yet. And though you turn from me to glance behind, the Phantom of the Opera [high school music teacher] is there, inside your mind.”).
The Phantom is also guilty of criminal sabotage (deliberately dropping an enormous chandelier on a crowded theater and setting the building on fire), extortion (demanding the exclusive use of a specific theater box, the recasting of the opera to suit his preferences, and 20,000 completely unearned francs per month, or “a disaster beyond your imagination will occur.”), evading the police, and three separate counts of murder.
The Phantom of the Opera shows the perpetrator actually committing these crimes, but declares him to be innocent and instead plays him as the victim because he has a physical deformity, was abused as a child, had actually felt some kind of affection for the girl he abused, and is now redeemed from his sin by her affection for him.
The viewer is not intended to walk away even disappointed, let alone appalled, by the fact that the Phantom escapes from the police, or the fact that Christine and Raoul’s pity for his disfigurement trumps any interest in seeing him brought to justice for his heinous and violent crimes against innocent people.2 Those who seek justice are portrayed as being in the wrong, Christine is positively portrayed for ending the movie by kissing the murderer passionately multiple times, and the decision to let the Phantom go free is presented as the ideal moral choice for Christine and Raoul to have made.
A man is shown revealing his bare buttocks. The bare breasts of twenty-some-odd statues of naked women are displayed prominently throughout the film.
Christine spends part of the movie believing that the Phantom is her dead father who is trying to contact her from beyond the grave. She welcomes and speaks positively to others about what she believes is ongoing contact with the dead.
1 Christine’s tombstone reveals the year of her birth as 1854, and the year in which the main events occur is said to be 1870. Depending on whether Christine’s birthday fell before or after the main events, she would be fifteen or sixteen years old in the sexual scenes.
2 "But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you." Deuteronomy 19:11-13, English Standard Version