Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★★

JMN's De Palma-thon
Film #8: Phantom of the Paradise

"I'm not a screamer. I'm a singer."

Terrific as Hi, Mom! and Sisters may have been, they were but appetisers to the delectable chef-d'œuvre that is Phantom of the Paradise: the most colourful, most creative, and yes, most crackers movie De Palma ever made.

A rock 'n' roll retelling of Phantom of the Opera and Faust - with unexpected inspiration from The Picture of Dorian Gray - Phantom of the Paradise boasts so much brilliance it's almost embarrassing. This includes an unforgettable ensemble of oddball characters (including Jessica Harper in her feature debut!), a scorchingly polychromatic comicbook aesthetic, and a superlative soundtrack from composer/co-star Paul Williams that's loaded with 70s awesomeness.

Come to think of it, I'm so overwhelmed by positivity towards Phantom of the Paradise that it's quite hard to come up with anything wrong with it. I guess I've never been particularly enamoured with the ill-disciplined approach of those last 5-10 minutes, but even that section does grow on me marginally with every subsequent viewing.

My single minuscule complaint aside, I adore absolutely everything about Phantom of the Paradise. It's a rock opera cult classic that never fails to entertain enormously, and is, in my opinion, Brian De Palma's first true masterpiece.

De Palma trademarks: Long takes; some POVs to represent "Phantom Vision"; set pieces featuring long buildups to violence; at least one circular shot; and one notable use of spilt screen in a scene which homages Touch of Evil. Collaborators include Gerrit Graham (from Greetings and Hi, Mom!) and William Finley in his largest (i.e. greatest) role.

De Palma-thon

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