Film Studies Guest Blog: Phantom of the Paradise
“It reminds me of Bohemian Rhapsody, but as a film.” I say. I’m met with blank looks. I squirm a little until I explain myself. Slowly, some people nod. Phew.
Phantom of the Paradise is an early Brian De Palma film released in 1974 and hails inspiration from Phantom of the Opera, The Picture of Dorian Gray and other oddities, including once particularly memorable moment from Pyscho (1960) of all places. It’s one of those films that I walked out of the cinema feeling rather dazed – but after conversations during the lecture, it’s one I’m now certain deserves a second viewing.
Unfortunately, it was a rare opportunity to view the film in a traditional cinema space and may become rarer still due to some recent company acquisitions. While it’s is certainly not my favourite film screening during this course, it’s proven to be one of the most interesting. This opportunity to view the film and then explore it with others has only really been possible through an independent cinema (such as the Showroom!) deciding to acquire and the screen it, especially as part of a course. I doubt I’d have ever seen otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t have had chance to discuss it with peers across all ages and differences, just with one thing in common – we all enjoy films, want to talk about it, and are willing to meet with others to do so.
Phantom of the Paradise is ultimately about one man trying to fight against The Man – an evil media corporation known as Death Records. It provides a lot of commentary, I think, on individuality and corruption over the ideals of fame, money and attention. When it was pointed out that this was a rare film to get a hold of and show, it stuck with me.
We can get jaded by the film industry, by blockbusters, by Hollywood. We can accuse them of being cash grabbing and sacrificing originality in order to do so. But creating the space to pull in films of all eras and genres, watching with people of all ages and all types - who can then develop their own thoughts about a story and the way it’s told and apply it to something bigger than one film, and to even themselves - creates something that leaders of the film industry could maybe only hope to fabricate organically.
It creates community.