Frye at the Movies: “The Phantom of the Opera”

Full movie at this single link

It’s Halloween weekend, so here’s the original 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera, which haunted Frye as a child, and which he would have seen in one of the two movie theatres that still stand in Moncton.

Frye later acknowledged that the fascination of the film for him was his own childhood affinity for katabasis, or theme of descent. From Bob Denham’s Frye Unbuttoned:

Everybody has a fixation.  Mine has to do with meander-and-descent patterns. For years in my childhood I wanted to dig a cave & be the head of a society in it — this was before I read Tom Sawyer. All the things in literature that haunt me most have to do with katabasis. The movie that hit me hardest as a child was the Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera. My main points of reference in literature are such things as The Tempest, P.R. [Paradise Regained], [Blake’s Milton], the Ancient Mariner, Alice in Wonderland, the Waste Land– every damn one a meander-&-katabasis work. (29)

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