The Phantom of the Opera (Blu-ray Review)

Here we are once again bringing you the latest in Blu-ray reviews and as luck would have it – our second silent film review in a day. What are the odds? The Phantom of the Opera has hit the Blu-ray format in a nice package that contain three different versions of the film. There are two 1929 reissue versions along with the original 1925 version in it’s entirety. We’ll get into it some more in the review. Oh, and just to reiterate, this is the ORIGINAL Phantom of the Opera, not the recent Joel Schumacher version with Gerard Butler. This stars the man of a thousand faces: Lon Chaney Sr.  With that out of the way let’s see how The Phantom of the Opera stacks up on Blu-ray.  Vamos! 



The Phantom of the Opera is the 1925 silent film adaption of Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel which funny enough was not even fifteen years old when it was adapted. Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, and Norman Kerry star. The film opens up and takes place in and around the Paris Opera House where Christine, a beautiful singer performs, although she is not the main attraction just yet. There is a legend that a “phantom” lurks within the opera, but no one has lived (long enough) to see his deformed face. Those that have, well, that’s the last thing they ever saw.

As Christine rehearses, a shadowy figure presents himself (off-screen) as her mentor of sorts. All we see is a creepy shadow on the wall that through use of his charms convinces Christine to accept him as her new teacher. Together they will bring the house down. Literally. Later on Christine’s boyfriend Raoul figures his way into the tale and asks Christine to cease taking guidance from this mysterious figure. Christine has become a sort of protege of the stranger and the stranger has taken it upon himself to send threatening notes to Carlotta, the current lead opera house singer asking her to step aside and let Christine takeover or else…dire consequences await. It’s not so much that the Phantom had “charms,” because all he did was threaten to blow the place down if Christine didn’t become the main singer. Powers of persuasion indeed!

The Phantom of the Opera is very simplistic, with a dash of the melodramatic. It’s technically a love story with horror undertones, but the way it’s weaved sets it apart from the average. We have the beautiful protagonist and the deformed antagonist who just wants to do good, by his standards, but because he looks the way he looks, has to resort to other means to get his way. Another curious bit of Phantom of the Opera trivia is that the master of disguise Lon Chaney did not get along with the director. They never spoke on set, so Chaney took it upon himself to improvise his entire performance. It’s a terrific feat unto itself and one would not notice this upon viewing it.

Lon Chaney also did his own make-up for the role of the Phantom and it has gone down in history as one of best creature make-ups of all time. There are wires that stretch and contort his face into painful shapes and gestures  one would have never known the lengths he would go to create such a character. This ain’t the easy tricks of today. The Phantom was in “pain,” because Lon Cahney was in actual pain!

Another thing that enhances this version of Phantom of the Opera is the 2 strip technicolor process that was used to enhance the classic “Costume Ball” towards the end. These colorized scenes look startling real and detailed which make the film look bigger in scope, especially when The Phantom makes an appearance as The Red Death and completely freaks everyone out. This was my favorite sequence along with the famous unmasking. Another thing that I had forgotten about the film was the subtle hint at the Phantom’s seductive powers. There are quite a few scenes where The Phantom overpowers Christine with just his voice and gestures, but the way the camera would go out of focus a bit made it seemed like he had mind control over her. Even during the unmasking the camera gets hazy almost as if the audience has fallen under the spell.

I went ahead and reviewed the 1929 reissue that was remastered at 24fps which clocks in at a robust 74 minutes – I am aware that the other versions may play at different length and are re-cut differently. This version has the more gruesome ending as opposed to the “broken heart” ending which doesn’t cut it now, and don’t think it cut it then. To each their own, right?


The Phantom of the Opera is presented in various aspect ratios, but I went ahead and watched the 24fps version and that one is presented in 1.2:1 aspect ratio. DNR and scrubbing seemed to be kept at a minimum. The overall print looks fairly clean and consistent. The film really shines when the color tinting comes into the picture giving it that surreal look. Things really shine during the “Bal Masque” sequence which is in color and you can almost touch the Red Death as he enters the frame. The images are clean and vivid. This version of Phantom of the Opera should be the first one watched before moving on to the latter versions.


The version The Phantom that I watched, which was the 24fps one, features a PCM 2.3 mbps soundtrack and it was pretty killer all things considered. I thought it was going to be a surround audio track, but considering that the PCM track provided is at 2.3 mbps – it’s a safe bet that will rock. And it does. Instruments sound balanced and never crossover into each other. Separation is also pretty evenly handled – depth is clear and centered. There are no dueling speakers here. The overall audio presentation for the 24fps version is pretty amazing.


You want extras, well I got your extras right here. This Blu-ray includes two complete high definition transfers of the 1929 reissue, three specifically commissioned musical scores, and a standard-definition presentation of the 1925 edit. Three versions of the film put the supplement section into five star territory, in my opinion. The Blu-ray also has various scores to each of the versions presented and there is an interview with composer Gabriel Thibaudeau, as well.

  • 1929 Reissue Version – Presented in 24 frames Per Second – Runtime 78 Minutes – 1.2:1 Aspect Ratio – A Brand New Musical Score by the Alloy Orchestra Plus Gaylord Cater’s Famous Theatre Organ Score in Stereo
  • 1929 Reissue Version – Presented in 20 Frames Per Second – Runtime 92 Minutes – 1.2:1 Aspect Ratio – Features an Orchestral Score Composed by Gabriel Thibaudeau, performed by I Musici de Montreal, Conducted by Yuri Turovsky with Claudine Cote, Soprano – New Full Length Audio Essay by Dr. Jon Mirsalis
  • Original 1925 Version – 6 Millimeter Source Copy Presented in Standard Definition – Color Tinted – Runtime 114 Minutes – 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio – Features a Piano Score by Frederick Hodges
  • Interview with Composer Gabriel Thibaudeau
  • Still Gallery
  • Film Script
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Theatrical Souvenir Program Reproduction


The Phantom of the Opera is a classic film from the silent era which was based on a not-so-classic novel, but made into its own beast by the amazing performance by Lon Chaney. The Blu-ray Gods have smiled on the world of (silent film) horror and blessed us with what can be considered the ultimate Phantom of the Opera collection in one disc! I can’t recommend this Blu-ray enough. If you don’t care for silent films then move along, but if you’re interested in film history, the silent film era, and whatnot, then you need to scoop this Blu-ray up!




Order The Phantom of the Opera on Blu-ray!



Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

Comments are currently closed.