Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

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Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  Sarah Crawford on Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:24 pm

Somehow, after 11 years in the phandom, I have just managed to stumble upon the dreaded “Hidden Plot” that some people claim Webber and Schumacher intended for the 2004 movie. Although I’m an E/C shipper, I can’t imagine using their kind of logic and making such insane claims that the number of candles lit, the angles of mirrors, the color of curtains, etc. all add up to a hidden fantasy story where the two actually end up together. It all seems a bit like desperation to prove a point to me, despite how many times they claim that it just fits. That said, I’ve had a bit of fun reading the Hidden Plot people’s summary of the first few scenes in the movie, if only for laughs as I search out the so called clues. I’ve gotten as far as Little Lotte. The main thing that bothers me about their “research” is that there are very few actual sources sited. That and most of the claims they make are flat out absurd. Has anyone else read the Hidden Plot?

All of this crazy, slow motion, zoom in search for symbolism made me wonder if phans here would like to discuss the symbolism that actually does exist in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and movie. (Can we discuss both here, since the two should be similar for the sake of this discussion?) We could always pick apart/make fun of the Hidden Plot too, if that doesn’t offend too many people. I haven’t found a thread for symbolism in the musical, so I thought I’d start one. If the discussion already exists elsewhere on the board, feel free to re-direct me. So fellow phans, what symbolism have you found in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Musical?

Sarah

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  ya-chai 2 on Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:07 am

Hi Sarah-
I'm curious. Where did you happen to find the Hidden Plot at? I know it was on the old WB website and then transferred over to the PhantomGerry website which has been gone for years now. Honeyphan also tried plastering it on the POTO website without much success. I haven't heard of it ending up anywhere else. I have read the thing, actually several times and I have to say I commend Honeyphan on her imagination. The rest just makes for entertaining reading.

One thing I'll say and then I'll let this drop as it wasn't my intention to bash this. There were probably a million screen snaps showing authenticated documented "proof" that the Phantom was in the cemetery at the end, watching Raoul. The proof was an ambiguous undefined object in the background that maybe could have been a person maybe not. As it turned out, an eagle eyed poster pointed out that the 'Phantom' was actually an urn that was clearly visible during the swordfight scene. Needless to say, the plotters about hemorrhaged over that and continued to deny that the 'Phantom' and the urn were one in the same. As I said, totally entertaining.

One thing that's caught my attention with regard to the movie are the many images of angels that appear throughout. I wondered if there was some correlation between the levels of angels and those images shown in the movie. Honeyphan never went into detail about the angels. I asked her about them, told her a bit of what I knew, but she never took it any further. Probably because the angels have nothing to do with the ghost love story. She did mention the angel in the chapel and I believe it underwent some sort of transformation that pertains to her theory. I myself found it interesting that an angel would appear in a chapel in such a prominent place as if it were to be worshipped. That is not the purpose of an angel and I thought that would have made an interesting discussion.

I think there's a lot of symbolism in both movie and musical. I just don't see it as some hidden story as one man freeing himself from demon possession.

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  Sarah Crawford on Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:30 am

Well, I found it by accident while searching for what happened to POTO.com and trying to find other Phantom discussion boards. One of the things that popped up in my Google search was the list of forums on Fanfiction.net. I've been on there since 2005 writing and reading, but I've never joined any forums there. Most of them appear to be pretty inactive with only a few threads. One of them was started by Honeyphan (who now goes by Angel of Mystery-145, which you might recall are her numbers for Christine, Erik, and the two of them together), and it's only thread is on the Hidden Plot. Here's the link:

She links to a couple of dead links where the Hidden Plot was posted and then later points people to her profile, where the new link is posted. Here's her profile:

And here's the new home for the Hidden Plot:

Honestly, I opened the board on FF.net because it sounded entertaining and I was curious. But it was much stranger than I would have guessed. I figured she would say things like the ring was really a promise that Christine would return to Erik, not claim that the whole story was really meant to be a fantasy genre romance about a queen helping a king to free himself from an evil spirit with the help of a couple of priests. Honestly, if she only wrote it as a fanfiction, I probably wouldn't feel the need to discuss it with others. The whole idea would make for an interesting, original--if a bit odd--story if that's all it was to her. I might even read it and give her a decent review. The thing that somehow both irks and amuses me is the fact that she, and others if she is to be believed, seem to think it's real. She preaches her theories as intended by Webber and Schumacher.

I guess I should make it clear that I'm not wanting to bash the Hidden Plot per say. I worded things wrong in the original post. I just want to discuss some of it since I have a running commentary in my head while reading it. And I don't really have any phans in my life at the moment, so the internet is the only place for me to share my thoughts on such things. That and it genuinely did make me want to search out some of the true symbolism that the creators of POTO wove into the story, the kind that enhances the plot, not theories about clues to a hidden story.

I hadn't noticed all of the angels in the movie until I started reading Hidden Plot. I'm afraid I don't know much about levels of angels. I feel like I've heard/read some things, but it's been a while. Could be fun to research. Feel free to share your own knowledge and research. Oh, I remember the part you are talking about, with her mentioning the angel changing during the Angel of Music scene. Here it is:

"Also, they show another shot of the painted Angel in the alcove - only now it’s completely different - it has long hair. This was doctored - someone had to have painted it differently, or painted two of them. (We also think there is something symbolic of hair in this movie for reasons I’ll show soon.) See pics of before and after:"

Sadly, all of her pictures are missing, but I've been going through the movie as I read and looking for the things she talks about. From what I can tell, the second angel picture they show looks nothing like the one in the alcove. I think it's a totally different painting in the chapel rather than a transformation of the first. In my opinion, the only reason for the angel paintings in the chapel is to tie in with the Angel of Music legend that is so much a part of Christine's life, since that is where she hears him in the movie. They probably wouldn't appear in a chapel like that, but then pictures of the Virgin Mary or various saints wouldn't contribute to the feel of the movie in the same way that the angels pictures do.

Edit: I've had to remove all of the links. Because I'm a new member I'm not allowed to post them for 7 days. I will post them when I can.

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  ya-chai 2 on Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:53 am

Thanks, Sarah. I didn't imagine there would be anything on fanfiction. I was doing some browsing on the internet tonight and found the Hidden Plot in this website:


http://www.phantomlnd.net/viewforum.php?f=6


Oh my, the saga continues, complete with charts. LND is even there. I would be open to reading about it again and discussing if you want. Might be fun as there are some interesting things in it. Might even get some other members to join in.


I was on the old WB forum when this started originating. From what I understand, there were two sisters (or friends) on the forum who actually began this hidden plot. Honeyphan took it over from there. At one point there were supposedly sessions where forum members met at each other's houses to discuss it. That's all I know about that.

I do know that both Gerard Butler and Patrick Wilson were asked by members of the WB forum if they were aware of any hidden story. Both actors denied knowing anything about a so called hidden story.

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  Sarah Crawford on Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:53 pm

Yep, you found the site I was talking about. Honeyphan made a whole board just for the HP on that LND site, and it seems to have more threads than any of the other boards, although not many comments. I've only looked at the threads for the individual scenes, and only the first few so far, but she seems to have at least started the same kind of thing for LND and the 25th Anniversary production as well as the 2004 movie. I'd love to have someone to discuss it with. It is interesting, even though I disagree with 99% of what I've read so far. But there is some fun stuff in there. A few of the things she points out could actually be symbolism in the real story.

Thanks for sharing about the origins of the whole thing. I had sloooooooow dial-up internet back in the day, so I didn't really get on message boards. Lived out in the country. All I've picked up from what I've read by Honeyphan is that she worked with other phans to come up with the HP. And nope, it doesn't surprise me that the actors know nothing about the hidden story. ALW and JS probably don't either, since it isn't real. Rolling Eyes

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  ya-chai 2 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:28 pm

After seeing so many angels in the movie, I did some research on them. I know a little about them, but not enough to be an expert. As a Catholic, guardian angels were a daily fact of life for me. According to what I found, there are three realms of angels. The heavenly, the earthly, and those that reside in hell. I tried to apply that logic to the movie. I thought the chandelier with all of the cherubs surrounding it resembled a throne, which is an angel described as a fiery wheel with eyes. The cherubim, seraphim, and thrones are closest to God, and reside in heaven. These angels were up near the top of the opera house, which I equated to heaven. I even went so far as to attribute the earth angels to Raoul, the managers, and I think even Giry because they resided within the main levels of the opera house. Erik of course was the angel in Hell, Lucifer, as his permanent home was in the cellars. Seems to make sense, doesn't it?

From the start I encountered problems though. Erik used the chandelier for his own means. In my theory, that would equate to Lucifer using a throne to destroy humans. Thrones never ever came down to earth nor could I find anything even remotely suggesting a lower level archangel like Lucifer would ever be able to use one for his own purposes.

In addition, Buquet is seen near the ceiling at least once that I can recall and he's often up in the rafters. Obviously he's not symbolic of a heavenly angel who is close to God.

So I'm in agreement with you. The angels are simply there to reinforce Christine's belief in the angel of music.

While not the same thing, I had a similar issue when reading about the hidden plot. Some things can fit very well into the story. Others not. Honeyphan can cut puzzle pieces down and make them fit, but in doing so, she distorts the resulting picture and it turns out to be a mess. An example of this is the young child Christine and the much older Phantom. In short, Christine's father, while on his deathbed, entrusted the Phantom to watched over child Christine when she came to the opera house. The proof was shown in the movie when Christine "hears" the angel at night. First of all, I found it troubling because of the obvious perceptions of older man and young female child. But putting that aside, I posed a question about this. If the Phantom was this protector, why didn't he make sure Christine had the very best in clothing, education and living conditions? She was entrusted to him, yet he leaves her ignorant and penniless? If I recall correctly, Honeyphan did what she does best; rallied the chosen few around her to defend her and completely ignored the question. As a result, there's one big hole in her theory. Among many. My whole issue with the hidden plot is not that it reveals some interesting conspiracy, but instead the mundane, which is that the Phantom loved Christine and vice versa. Some surprise. I think you said it earlier; many people already believe that without clues like a picture frame, chandelier, and Christine's ring to tell them so.

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  Sarah Crawford on Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:38 am

Oh good! I was hoping we would continue the angel discussion, because I find it fascinating. I’ve done a bit of research online. Somewhere, I know I had an angelology book, but I can’t seem to find it. Oh well. Just as a bit of background: I grew up Fundamentalist Baptist with a pastor who talked a lot about angels and demons. However, I don’t recall much of what he said, since he left when I was rather young. Now I attend a Bible church where angels are only mentioned periodically. Anyway, I think that the Catholic view of angels is the most relevant to this discussion, since the POTO characters are Catholic (see movie: Christine lighting a candle for her father, book: Raoul saying he’s a practicing Catholic when asked if he believes in the supernatural). Feel free to correct any of my random ideas, since I’m sure the internet hasn’t given me a perfect picture of Catholic theology on angels. I have some Catholic friends, but we’ve never discussed angelology.

Something I knew already is that the word “angel” means “messenger.” Apparently, the Hebrew and Greek words apply to both human and spiritual messengers. The Biblical language differentiation began with the Latin text, using “angelus” for spiritual messengers and “legatus” or “nuntius” for human messengers. At various councils, it has been agreed that angels are created spirit beings, higher than man and lower than God. Angels are most often seen in the Bible as messengers and guardians, either of specific people or an entire nation. St. Augustine and St. Gregory pointed out that angels are also attendants at God’s throne (mentioned in Daniel and Isaiah).

As far as the hierarchy/orders/choirs of angels, I’ve seen 9 in most of my research, but also other numbers. St. Gregory the Great referred to 9 orders of angels: Angels, Archangels (Jude and 1 Thessalonians 4), Virtues (Ephesians 1:21), Powers (Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16), Principalities (Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16), Dominations (Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16), Thrones (Colossians 1:16), Cherubim (Genesis 3 and Ezekiel 1 and 10), and Seraphim (Isaiah 6). St. Thomas divided angels in to 3 hierarches, each continuing 3 orders: 1) Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, 2) Dominations, Virtues, and Powers, and 3) Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. (I’ve seen Virtues and Principalities switched in some discussions.) The divisions are according to their proximity to God. I’ve also read various descriptions of the functions and appearance of each group of angel. Some seem to be generally agreed upon and others seem to have more differing opinions.

Out of curiosity, where did you find the info about the 3 realms of angels? When I looked up realms of angels all I found was “Angels from the realms of glory.” Laughing But yes, those make sense as the three places where angels work and/or reside. As you said, the analogy of those 3 realms and the POTO characters just doesn’t work. One more point that it doesn’t work with is this: despite calling himself “the angel in hell” in the final lair (in some productions of the musical), Erik, unlike Lucifer, finds redemption in the end.

Oh, and one more thing about Christine and the angels in the chapel. Could it be that they are shown in the chapel like they are because of her almost worship-like adoration of the Angel of Music? Just a thought.

Another question popped into my head. At what points in the movie do we see angels? I noticed them more than usual while reading the first bit of Hidden Plot, but I haven’t really gone through the movie and looked at when and where we see angels, which I kind of want to do now. I’m curious if we see them more when Christine is full immersed in the belief that the Angel of Music is teaching her, rather than after Erik has reveals himself to her as a man.

Yes, I have the same issue with the hidden plot. A few things actually fit. Most of them are, as you said, the plotters forcing something that just isn’t there. (BTW, I like your puzzle analogy.) The thing about symbolism is that while no analogy can be taken too far, a good one should support the main story, not create a totally different story. And yes, I do recall Honeyphan stating vehemently that Christine’s father lived at the opera house (because his picture was in the chapel) and that meant that he knew and served King Erik and entrusted Christine to his keeping when he died. I have several issues with that theory, but I won’t get into them now. Again, a story where Christine was Erik’s ward might be interesting, but it’s just not a part of the movie plot.

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Re: Symbolism in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Post  ya-chai 2 on Sun Nov 09, 2014 6:10 pm

Sarah, I did the research on angels years ago when I was on the PhantomGerry board. Unfortunately, that was years ago and it was on my old computer which has since been destroyed. When I was talking about the three realms, that was incorrect. I should have said the three hierarchies or spheres. Dionysius was the scholar who developed these hierarchies with the nine classes of angels within them. What I did was try to "fit" the nine classes within the three levels of the opera. That's where I found my theory made no sense and I stopped at that.

From what I understand of Lucifer, he was quite high up in the angel hierarchy but refused to worship God. He and his followers left Heaven and established their own kingdom of Hell. What I find interesting is that Lucifer is allowed to travel to earth and if you believe in the story of Job, he must have gone back to Heaven to debate with God over Job's righteousness.
Angels are an important part of Catholicism. We were taught we had a guardian angel who protected us and I know about the more famous ones, Michael and Gabriel. You are correct, Angels are higher than man but lower than God. However, man is more special to God because God created man with something an angel does not have; an immortal soul. With an immortal soul, man is the image of God. I have heard some of the angels were jealous of men because of their immortal souls. What is fascinating to me are the many stories told where Lucifer gains a human's immortal soul. In fact, I just watched a movie yesterday involving voodoo (another Catholic practice) and Lucifer.

I don't know if you had the same problem I did when researching angels, but at the time I did my research, I couldn't find a lot on them. Some of what I found coincided with magic crystals and incense so then I wondered just how much was accurate. I've since seen some television shows on angels and I'm sure the internet has more information on them as well. Might be fun just to see what is out there.

I remember going through some frames of the movie, and seeing angels in a lot of the scenes. Il Muto is one that comes to mind. I was thinking angels might be present in some form in every part of the movie, but I didn't want to do the eyebleed thing and go through every frame just to prove my point. I had no coherent theory to back it up and not a lot of people were interested in the angel theory to begin with. They were more concerned with the so called "proof" that the Phantom and Christine rose into their kingdom and sang music of the night forever.

I had forgotten that Raoul was a practicing Catholic and it always made sense to me that Christine would have been one, particularly with her strong belief in angels.  

The chapel itself has always bothered me for a few reasons.  First of all, there's no cross, not even on the entrance or exit. On the exit there's a big white rose. This was something Honeyphan never addressed in her hidden plot. I'll have to read up on it to see if she's since mentioned it. Next, it's the candlelighting thing Christine does to honor her father. That in itself is not a problem, but the fact that her father's picture is there is a problem for me. Intentions for the deceased are common but the way the movie makes it, it's as though Christine is worshipping her father. Third, the huge angel painted on the wall. I have never seen angels depicted in such a manner in any Catholic church or chapel that I've been in. As you said, angels are messengers of God, so they've been depicted as comforting Christ before his crucifixion, leading Mary and Joseph into Egypt, or in Nativity scenes where they're proclaiming Christ's birth to name a few. Never has one been plastered on the wall by itself.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I find your suggestion that angels are shown in the chapel because of Christine's almost worship-like adoration a very interesting one. In fact, I have never heard that before and it's extremely plausible to me. That being said, I wanted to bring up a popular Bible story regarding temptation. Jesus is in the desert for forty days, fasting. Naturally He's very hungry and Lucifer takes time to tempt Him. Lucifer tells Jesus that he'll given him bread if Jesus worships Him.

What I find interesting about Lucifer in the Bible is that I can't recall him ever asking man to worship him. He tempts man (or so I was told in school) and there is the story of him getting Eve to eat the apple. But I can't recall any other stories where man is directly tempted to worship Lucifer. I'm not even sure why he'd want a person's immortal soul. According to what I understand, God gave man the freedom to do what he wants. He can worship God or the devil or a tree, whatever. Or none. So I'm not sure how a lesser entity, created by God, can force an immortal soul to do his bidding. But that aside, let's say Lucifer has the power to make someone worship him.

From what I've read of Lucifer, he is a practical entity. He wants a human's soul, so he'll bargain for it. He also has the power to be kind, be charming, even generous. He even has the power to break the bargain if he so chooses.

So back to Christine and Erik. I also believed for a long time that Erik was the one who was redeemed at the end of the story. Lately though, I have begun to question that logic. According to what I know of redemption, there should be joy in a person being redeemed. In addition, that person, as the result of his/her redemption, should change profoundly, like Dickens' Ebeneezer Scrooge. But Erik does not profoundly change. What he does is release Christine. He could have very easily done that for practical purposes. In Leroux, he comes to terms with the fact even though she had the bravery and fortitude to stay with him, she still loves Raoul. No matter what, that is an obstacle that he could never overcome in their relationship. In the stage version/movie, she again has the fortitude to stay with him, but the mob is moving in to kill him. His only practical way out is to release her and Raoul and then disappear himself. In both cases he's faced with a problem and tackles it in a practical way. Because of that, I see him as more of a Lucifer like character than a man who is redeemed.

Christine is often overlooked as the antagonist in this story. Erik and Raoul are often blamed for her actions. But she actually worshipped Erik, calling him Master when she thought he was the angel. After finding out he was a man, she toyed around with him and Raoul. She lied, withheld information, and in some cases out and outright breaks the law and ends up in a mythical version of Hell. Suppose it's really Christine who's redeemed in the end?

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