I’m going to be doing a review of the Dario Argento version of Phantom of the Opera later this week, but I want to say something quite long about Phantom/Christine shipping before.  I’m going to talk about the relationships in general, but I’m using mostly examples from Schumacher version so keep that in mind while I rant for a few minutes.

Christine (played by Emmy Rossum) reveals that since she came to Madame Giry’s ballet dormitories she’s been in contact with this ‘Angel of Music’, whom we know to be the Phantom (Gerard Butler).  I believe she arrived at the dormitories when she was six.  Translation: the Phantom has been creeping her since she was pre-adolescent.  She also has, at the beginning of the movie, never physically met the man.  He could be a creepy old man with control issues, living in a basement, lusting after a teenager.  (Hint: He is.)

Raoul (Patrick Wilson), on the other hand, was her friend when they were younger.  This is pretty much the key difference between Raoul and the Phantom- the relationship is mutual with Raoul and Christine.  They both give and take, as friends or lovers do.  The relationship between the Phantom and Christine is entirely different- it’s very once sided.  The Phantom teaches her how to sing, but it’s the how that’s alarming.  He convinces Christine that he’s an Angel- that he is a messenger from God.  And also, her deceased father.  He is both, a weird mixed concept in her mind and while she’s drawn to him, it’s through the specter of her lost father and the voice of the almighty that he’s created this strange dynamic.

This sort of thing happens a lot- Raoul will stand on Christine’s level.  If she’s sitting he’ll sit or kneel next to her, but the Phantom tends to loom.

The first time the Phantom and Christine actually meet, he locks her in her room (although she doesn’t know this the audience sees it) and sweeps her into his mom’s basement er dungeon and generally acts creepy.  He has a a life size accurate dress form/statue of Christine wearing a wedding dress that the Phantom intends for her to wear at seom point.  Christine is overwhelmed by the creep and faints.  He uses the words “I have needed you with me/to serve me, to sing,” and “Only then can you belong to me,” when singing to her.  This is supposed to be romantic.

Raoul treats Christine differently, you can tell by the words he uses.  The words are romantic: “I love you” “Love me, that’s all I ask of you.”  The song, “All I Ask of You” is a duet- each asking something of the other in turn.  This is a mutual attraction.  The Phantom’s ‘romantic’ song was all from him- I don’t think she said more than two or three things directly to the Phantom during that scene at all, and I don’t think she uttered a single word once she stepped out of the boat.

When the Phantom finds out that Raoul and Christine are in love, he first takes responsibility for this love.  He sings, “I gave you my my music/made your song take wing/and now how you’ve re-payed me/denied me and betrayed me” which is a little confusing, because she has done neither of these things.  Then later: “He was bound to love you/when he heard you sing”.   The Phantom does not or cannot understand that they have a prior relationship, and Raoul’s love for her goes far deeper than ‘pretty with a great voice’.

The Phantom looks like he might strangle her. It’s the little differences, people.

When the Phantom sees the ring on the chain around her neck, and immediately discerns her secret engagement.  He snatches the ring off her neck, and yells, “Your chains are still mine!  You belong to me!”  This isn’t a jealous husband who’s found his wife in the arms of another lover.  This is someone Christine regards as a mystic figure whom she’s been in the physical presence of approximately one time.  She has made no promise, and he has no claim.  He is a controlling, jealous, vindictive, murdering bastard without even the flimsiest of excuses to back him up.

In the scene in the cemetery, the Phantom attempts to lure her into her father’s mausoleum (presumably to kidnap her) and is only prevented by the timely arrival of Raoul, who literally rides in on a white horse.  This seems like a good time to mention the part of this that squicked me the worst- the Phantom is deliberately using her father’s memories to lure her.  He has led her to believe he is the Angel of Music sent by her father, and that he is (in part, at least) her father.  Which is gross because A: this smacks of incest, somehow and B: she clearly loved her father, and the Phantom is abusing this to his advantage.

He also seems to feel she owes him something (marriage) for the lessons he’s given her, her music and her voice, but he has done so under the guise of being an Angel.  As in, a servant sent directly from God, who has no need of corporeal rewards (presumably).   He has been posing as a figure that asks no reward and then gets pissed off when she doesn’t discern that clearly, she owes him something.  This is the epitome of the Nice Guy complex.

Raoul does ask Christine to do something she’s not enthusiastic about- use herself as a lure.  She’s frightened of being taken.  He reassures her, and tells her that everything rests on her- he makes her the hero.  This becomes literally true- she ends up saving Raoul and breaking the Phantom’s heart enough that he lets them go.

He comes onstage like mother-fuckin’ Dracula.  Really.

At the end of the movie, the Phantom forcibly and without ambiguity kidnaps Christine.   He then forces her to change into the wedding dress.  They lyrics they exchange are so telling here: “Have you gorged yourself at last in your lust for blood?  /Am I now to be prey to your lust for flesh?”  This is about rape.  She is straight up asking if he is about to rape her.

His reply: “That fate which condemns me to wallow in blood/ has also denied me the joys of the flesh.”    Yep.

When Raoul comes to save her, to free her, the Phantom captures the Vicompte and forces her to choose.  She can leave, but he will strangle Raoul before her eyes first (although the likelihood that he’ll actually let her go is slim).

Raoul, when trapped, urges her to go- it is better for him to die than her to be stuck with the Phantom.  He apologizes for getting trapped (which isn’t his fault but he feels terrible she’s being put to this agonizing choice, she was right and it came to this.  He already knows what she will do because it is what he would do.  He tries to convince her to do otherwise, because he loves her, but he knows.

This is a man who is terrified of losing the love of his life.

Okay, so setting aside the Nice Guy Complex he has: the Phantom is a murderer who has no compunction about setting a movie theater full of people on fire because it’s to his advantage (creating chaos so that he can more easily kidnap his prey).  All of the language he uses on Christine is harsh and owner-oriented.  “you belong to me” “to serve me to sing”.  The only time he ever says “I love you” to Christine is at the end of the movie when he’s let her go.  This is not somebody who is tragically in love with someone- it’s about an obsession with a single person that has lasted well over a decade which has ended in stalking and death.

Raoul, upon recognizing her, immediately leaps up and rushes downstairs so he can see her when she’s offstage.  He offers his protection and love in a mutual song- protection because she is frightened of the Phantom- he wants to draw her into the light and be with her forever.  He says “Christine I love you” in the beginning third of the film.  He  loves her, she loves him, not to mention he’s wealthy and handsome.  Most importantly, Raoul is NOT A MURDERING PSYCHOPATH.  Good lord.

This kind of mindset is why people think Edward Cullen is ~*~romantic~*~

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