Donald talks about the Phantom of the Opera movie

Donald talks about the Phantom of the Opera movie

Our 2021 Pipe Organ Festival started on 9 October with Silent Movie the Phantom of the Opera, with a live accompaniment played by Donald MacKenzie on the Willis Pipe Organ which had been tuned earlier in the week.

This was the 1930 recut of the 1925 film. Donald explained the film didn’t get a certification in UK until 1930 because the critics in the USA were not very impressed with the 1925 version.

The Phantom comes to Stony Stratford

The Phantom comes to Stony Stratford

Donald started the entertainment by playing some other film music first. He explained that as there is a lot of Bond fever at the moment with the latest Bond movie just released, he would play some Bond music which he would have played at the Odeon on the Wurlitzer but the organ console lift has broken down at the Odeon Leicester Square.

Audience watching the start of the movie

Audience watching the start of the movie

Donald's Bond films music was a selection of the themes from the early films, including Dr No, From Russia with love, You only live twice, Nobody does it better from A spy who loved me and On Her Majesty’s secret service.

Then he went straight into the movie which in this first half of the evening included the famous falling chandelier scene when Christine was kidnapped by the Phantom in the Paris Opera house.

During Intermission we served popcorn, ice-cream, wine and juice.

Eric the Phantom playing his organ under the Paris Opera House

Eric the Phantom playing his organ under the Paris Opera House

In the second half there was more colour on screen at times with the Phantom dressed in red at the masked ball and eavesdropping on Christine and Raoul while sitting on the statue on the roof of the Opera house.

In the live soundtrack improvised by Donald there was no hint of the more modern music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, instead at one point I enjoyed a brief section of The Marsellies when the secret policeman Inspector Ledoux appeared on the scene.

This was the longest Silent Movie we had watched Donald play for and he did a masterly job of providing a soundtrack which picked up on so many nuances of the story line, helping build the tension and gothic feel of what we saw on screen.

The Phantom revealed to Christine

The Phantom revealed to Christine

Thank you Donald for a very entertaining evening and a great start to our short, but once again 'in person' organ festival after the 2020 festival was presented online.

Words and photos by Anna Page

Phantom on the roof statue

Phantom on the roof statue