Movie inspiration of the week – Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Costume Designer: Rosanna Norton

I have to confess my ignorance because I had never heard of this film until last Saturday when I caught it by chance on tv.

I must also confess that I have never been a fan of rock opera but this is Brian De Palma’s glam rock extravaganza and it’s brilliant.

Brian De Palma’s rock opera within a rock opera (possibly the world’s first) is a bright, loud, brash, fast and funny live-action comic book, a vicious little satire of the music business, and a head-on collision between Phantom of the Opera, Faust, and early ‘70s glam [and the Picture of Dorian Gray] .  Jim Knipfel

In 1974, apparently, Brian De Palma believed he could do anything

To begin, one must cross-reference the film with the historical referent that serves as its structuring absence: the Sixties. This is the lost paradise De Palma invokes in detailing the fallen world of mid-Seventies rock, the would-be utopia that has now collapsed into the death-and-glitter cesspool of 1974. Whatever may actually have happened in the decade, it’s clearly the object that has been lost by a world that can now sustain something called Death Records. The label serves as base of operation for a satanic producer/executive named Swan (Paul Williams), who stands in for the reaper who rang down the curtain on peace and love (…) The sense that something has been lost is inescapable, that it’s been corrupted by grotesquely commercialized hands. Travis MacKenzie Hoover

The theatrical element—crucial for a film that centers on a music palace called “The Paradise”—is the number one citation for the degradation of the music scene. What upsets the filmmakers most is that any jerk in gold lame and platform shoes can be a singing star with the right razzle-dazzle, as the unadorned musicians of the previous decade were being swept off the stage for Alice Cooper and his obnoxious bits of business. Travis MacKenzie Hoover


Even if the over the top, outrageous, glittery empty style of the classic glam rock era symbolizes the decadence and corruption of the music [as] business, the melodramatic characters intoxicated by stardom and masterfully served by Rosanna Norton’s imaginative and eye-popping costumes also show us a phantasy (albeit bitter) world of identity creation and playful sensuality.If this is not the particular allure of this movie, it certainly explains the pervasive influence of 70s glam rock in fashion.


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