Saturday, 23 October 2010

Phantom of the Paradise - the French Blu-Ray

One of 3 Blu-Rays I picked up in Paris last week, Phantom of the Paradise has been given a very impressive hi-def makeover for its French release (Region-free by the way). Brian de Palma's 1974 film looks absolutely superb, transferred from a clean, spotless print, full of eye-popping detail (you can spot Cheryl Smith of Lemora fame bedding down with Swan in one scene) and gorgeous color - Larry Pizer's gaudy cinematography positively radiates off the screen. Film grain is present but not excessive and there is only one instance where the picture looks anything less than stellar - the scene where Swan gives his press conference at the airport looks a little soft, but I would guess this is how it always looked. The audio is extremely robust - the opening sequence of the Juicy Fruits rockin' out is wonderful. Turn this baby up !

The extras** on the Blu have been carried over from the previous French DVD, the best of which is Paradise Regained, the excellent and meaty 50-min documentary about the film, which gathers together all the principle cast and crew including a very proud Brian De Palma. I won't spoil all the surprises but some interesting factoids gleamed from the doc - the film originally began life as The Phantom of the Fillmore, Taxi Driver's Peter Boyle was originally considered to play Beef, and Led Zeppelin had de Palma optically replace all references to Swan's record label Swan Song, which was Zep's own label !

The film itself can be viewed without the French subtitles, but the French subs are forced for the Paradise Regained documentary. The French subs are discreet enough to ignore although actor Gerrit Graham does one of his interview segments in French !

** Edit Thanks to reader Principal Archivist who left this comment regarding the extras on the French Blu:

It's probably fair to warn your North American readers that although the French BluRay is region free, the extra features can only be played on a PAL-compatible BluRay player; most North American BluRay players aren't.

Phantom fans should check out the Principal Archivist's incredible website The Swan Archives for all thing Phantom related...


  1. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and, in my opinion, De Palma's best. The soundtrack is so awesome, from the rocking Undead tracks to Jessica Harper's heartachingly beautiful numbers. And the whole thing just looks amazing. Phantom seemed to kind of disappear throughout the late 90's, I'm so glad to see it getting the love it deserves these days.

  2. You're right, the airport scene was always a little soft, and that's directly related to the removal of the "Swan Song" logos at the last minute. You can find out a lot more about that, if you care to, at my site, on this page: . It's probably fair to warn your North American readers that although the French BluRay is region free, the extra features can only be played on a PAL-compatible BluRay player; most North American BluRay players aren't.

  3. Many thanks for the comments guys...

    You're right Aylmer about the film doing a disappearing act. Before I grabbed the French Blu, I hadn't seen the film is years... In fact I'd forgotton how good the film is. I think its my favourite de Palma now...

    Principle Archivist, thanks for the info about the Blu-Ray extras - I've added this to the foot of the post now, plus a link to your excellent website.

  4. Thanks for the review! So, this French release has English audio?

  5. Oui Madame, English audio and the all important optional, removable French subs. A great release all round !

  6. Thank you! I'm an English speaker who also speaks French, but I prefer not to watch dubbed films when I can. Cheers for the heads up :)

    Oh! One more thing. Does region-free mean any blu-ray player will handle it?

  7. Yes, this Blu-Ray is region-free, meaning it will play in any Blu-Ray player (my player is locked to Region B, Europe). This is confirmed in the review at DVD Beaver

    However according to's review:

    All of the supplemental features on this disc are in PAL. Therefore, if you reside in North America, or another region where PAL is not supported, you must have a Region-Free player capable of converting PAL to NTSC, or a TV set capable of receiving native PAL data, in order to view them.

  8. I was actually dropped off to watch this at the theater in 1974 - at the age of seven. I'll pause to let all of that soak in. Yes, in 1974 in the US Midwest, parents would let their seven year old children see a movie in one theater while they saw a movie in another auditorium - and yes, obviously my parents just assumed this was some goofy horror flick - and while my little mind was kind of overwhelmed - I had already seen at least two Phantom of the Opera movies and had seen enough "deal with the Devil" TV episodes to be able to follow most of the plot. I watched it again somewhere in the last five years or so - still a great movie, and I totally got everything going on this time!

  9. Wonderful parents ! I remember you sharing a similar anecdote recalling the you saw Friday the 13th at the Saluki Theater. The De Palma film obviously left a big impression, and no surprise either, it's a wild, wild movie !

    Speaking of Friday the 13th, Craig's fantastic blog contains a raft of excellent and unique Friday the 13th posts so be sure to head over there, add the site to your favourites and get stuck in. Satisfaction is guaranteed I promise !