Happy Birthday Marcello Gagliani Caputo!
|Marcello Gagliani Caputo (born October 30, 1974) – Italian journalist, horror film critic/expert – Universal Monsters: Epic Monsters in Black and White (2015)|
Excerpt from Universal Monsters:
From its founding in 1912 by German immigrant Carl Laemmle (1867 to 1939), Universal almost immediately specialized in horror, debuting in 1925 a film adaptation of the novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera (directed by Rupert Julian), where the frightening character of Erik, a brilliant but deformed musician who lives hidden in the cellars of the Paris Opera, was played by Lon Chaney. The film is rightly still considered one of the best interpretations of the novel, thanks to the fidelity with which the writers Elliot J. Clawson and Raymond L. Schrock followed the story as written, and to the extraordinary ability of the director to create a mysterious and dark universe with a striking gothic atmosphere in which horror mixes easily with romance.
Opening in theaters September 6, 1925, and costing just under a half-million dollars to make, The Phantom of the Opera is silent but extraordinarily rich in atmosphere and pathos. It represents the beginning of a long and legendary history that led to this great American production house becoming the very icon of horror cinema.
Lon Chaney’s monster finds inspiration in Murnau’s Nosferatu (he sleeps in a coffin), but he goes beyond that, representing on the big screen the idea of a man rejected by society who goes mad and decides to exile himself in the basement of a theater, a better place than the prisons and torture chambers where he spent most of his life. His obsession with Christine reflects an unconscious wish to nevertheless regain a little joy from life, something that has been taken away from him in a world where he has been marginalized.
Chaney’s performance hinges almost entirely on body language. More telling than his disfigured and partially covered face, in fact, are gestures that externalize his discomfort, as when he indicates with his hands the place where he sleeps, using a languid movement that transmits great sadness and melancholy.
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