One of my all-time favorite movies is The Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson. I can readily admit I had never seen the play or read the book before seeing this movie. Within the first week of seeing the movie, I saw it ten (10) times. That's right, ten times. I adored the movie. Gerard Butler as the Phantom was tortured and compelling. Emmy Rossum did a marvelous job for her first big role (she was the daughter killed in Mystic River). Patrick Wilson made me swoon as Raoul.
Of course, the inconsistencies are hard to overlook, but the magic of the movie still strikes me today. For instance, the fact that Christine and Raoul were childhood sweethearts did not ring true, considering she was so young when she first arrived at the Opera House, but hey, as a romance writer, I am willing to ignore a few minor details. Many people could not understand how Christine could love the Phantom and Raoul at the same time. As a writer, we are taught to look deeper into the character's motivation. What would motivate Christine to believe the Phantom, to follow him willingly, and to listen to him with such blind faith? One has to go back to when she first arrived at the Opera House after her father died. A father who told her he would send an angel to watch over her. In her child's mind, the Phantom was that angel who came to guide and protect her. She does not equate him with the Opera Ghost at all. The Phantom manipulates the mind of a child because unlike others in his life, she trusts him and does not run away in fear. He uses the tunnels and secret passageways to his advantage – to further this relationship he has built with a child.
Look deeper. That's what writers do when they create a world. We are always talking about GMC – Goal, Motivation, Conflict. They are the driving forces in any novel. What is the hero's goal? What motivates him to make certain decisions? Most importantly, what conflict will disrupt his goals? The same is true for the heroine.
To see if my theory about the main characters' GMCs were accurate, I would need to do more research. I wanted to see the play and read the book. The following year, I saw The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in New York. How did it compare to the movie? I still adore the movie, but I have to admit the play was very creative and made me wonder about the story itself. Did they pay tribute to the true story?
Last year I traveled to Paris. What a perfect opportunity to read the book. I downloaded it on my Kindle and decided it would be the first book I would read. My first night in Paris, I saw the Opera House all lit up. My breath was taken away and I wondered about the story. Whenever I stopped to eat, I would drag out my Kindle and read more of the story. So much more made sense and, with delight, I saw the connection to each character and how they were portrayed. Andrew Lloyd Webber did a wonderful job taking the essence of each character and bringing them to life. Several main characters were kept out of the play and movie. Characters who would have explained so much more about the Phantom and his underground life. I almost wished they could have been included, but then the romantic elements would have been watered down. Our main characters would not have seemed so heroic. But through it all, I achieved a greater understanding of what motivated each character throughout the story.
The question remains – do I still love the movie? Absolutely. There is something compelling about love triangle – the unrequited love of the Phantom to Christine. The tender love that blossomed between Christine and Raoul. Most of all the innocent love of a Christine to the Phantom which is shattered but then redeemed at the end of the movie. Most of all, I adored the pageantry and music that swept me away to a different time and place.
Isn't that what a good story does?