One night during high school, I believe it was, I stayed up way past my bedtime...shh, don't tell!...and watched The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney.
I fell in love. The Phantom will always be the ultimate tragic hero to me. (The closest I've come to a similar reaction to a character would be Joely Sue Burkhart's Gregar.)
The fact that a movie -- and a silent one at that -- made almost half a century before my presence turned a stick blue, almost a decade before either of my parents were glimmers in my grandparents' eyes, and spoke to my teenage self on such an elemental level, still resonates with me. Lon Chaney also had to have been one hell of an actor to convey all the layers of the Phantom without saying a word!
Thus started a love affair that's been going on nearly thirty years. (Wow, I feel old now!)
I think I've seen every movie incarnation out there, including a bunch of foreign ones complete with subtitles. Of course, I've seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. The Broadway incarnation once or twice in Portland, the Vegas version once, and The Phantom of the Opera movie too many times to count. (If I was Christine, I'd have no problem being locked up with Gerard Butler's Phantom for the rest of my life *g*)
I listen to The Phantom Of The Opera CD a lot, too.
And what good reader, in the middle of a love affair, would miss reading The Phantom of the Opera? Not I. Sadly, I speak not a word of French, so have to rely on the translated version of Leroux's work. *le sigh* I remember falling in love all over again the first time I read the book.
I've not got into all the reincarnations of the book -- a little too fan-fic for my tastes -- but do plan on reading Phantom by Susan Kay once I can lay hands on a copy. I've heard nothing but good things about her take on the original story. I'm on the fence about Love Never Dies. Though the music I've heard sounds amazing, sequels rarely live up to the hype.
What story captured you body and soul?