Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll
Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll is a psychological horror film written and directed by Marilyn Manson. Anthony Silva and Geoff Cox assisted with the production, which was primarily handled by Wild Bunch. The film had an estimated budget of $4,200,000, and would have been Manson's first high-profile directorial effort. Lily Cole portrayed the lead female role for the film, opposite Manson – Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood and Angelina Jolie were rumored to be among the cast as well. Phantasmagoria was announced at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2006, and after several delays, the film was shelved as a result of poor reception to a leaked trailer. The film's title is taken from Phantasmagoria and Other Poems, a famous collection of Lewis Carroll poems published in 1869.
Victorian England. A haunted writer in an isolated castle is tormented by sleepless nights and visions of a girl named Alice, following the death of his father in 1869. He finds himself becoming a symptom of his own invention.
"Now all my nightmares know my name."
He is Lewis Carroll. Terrified of what waits for him each night.
Marilyn Manson began forming ideas for a film adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice stories in 2002. These ideas were later incorporated into a project focusing primarily on the author Carroll rather than his work of art. Accompanied by actress Lily Cole, on February 12, 2006 Manson appeared at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival, where he announced plans for Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll. The script had been completed only months before the film was announced, in December 2005. Various materials for Phantasmagoria continued to be designed through December 2007, after which production was delayed due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, in addition to Marilyn Manson's Rape of the World tour. That month, Manson commented on this delay, stating that "It was meant to have been filmed earlier but Eat Me, Drink Me became something that was absolutely my first priority. Now the movie will be delayed even more because of the ongoing scriptwriters strike in Hollywood which is affecting all present productions. I'll try and restart it at the beginning of next year." Ireland and Portugal were considered for filming locations, Manson describing the latter as "a very powerfully magical, strange place. It was my first choice for location to shoot my film Phantasmagoria."
A number of actors, musicians and various personnel are noted or rumored to have been involved in the production. For many contributors, their status of involvement is unclear due to relationship fallouts with Manson. For example, the film's score was said to have been produced by Manson, Stephen Bier and Tim Skold, the latter two whom departed the band by the conclusion of 2007. Dita Von Teese, who was formerly married to Manson was at one point involved in the film. Likewise, Evan Rachel Wood, whom Manson had been dating and was engaged to for some time, was once attached to act in Phantasmagoria, in addition to another Marilyn Manson film, Splatter Sisters, but the end of their relationship makes her status with both films uncertain.
Anthony Silva, co-writer for Phantasmagoria, spoke about the film in a May 2010 interview with MansonWiki. Silva claimed his roles might have extended to direction and editing as well as screenwriting. He also spoke about the film's creation process, remembering how the writers studied Carroll's diaries, biographies and newspaper articles and surveys of the era, in addition to the very cameras and photography from that time period. Medical practices of the 1800s were also examined, "as Carroll experienced great bouts of sickness throughout his life."
In an interview with Ora TV talk host, Larry King on June 3, 2013, Manson mentions 'But I just resurrected it again, (Phantasmagoria) and Roger Avary is going to direct it.'
In a surprise status on February 6, 2014, Manson announced 'My long-awaited portrayal of Lewis Carroll in the film, PHANTASMAGORIA is finally in production. I cannot give out the details of the other artists involved, or the director today...but this will be my dream within a dream role as an actor.'
On the film's scare tactics, Manson said, "I want to take the children's story that we all know, and discover the horrifying roots that grow beneath every one of its childish metaphors. The characters may be absurd and wrapped in puzzles, but, the author himself is the story that I find painfully close to me. Lewis Carroll is far more complex than the world's narrow perception of him as a quiet deacon, a mathematician and a loner, simply obsessed with photographing young girls. He was possibly one of the most divided souls living in his own hell that the world has overlooked." Marilyn Manson digressed his aim for the project was to "redefine the horror genre [...] It's kind of a return to Hitchcock-style psychological horror about letting your mind do the damage and sometimes what you don't see is scarier."
Phantasmagoria was described as filmed in a manner previously unexplored. Manson explained, "I have a camera that I'll be the first person to use in cinema, and I'm very excited about it. It's very unique." The artist once suggested the use of subliminal elements to enhance reception, but also said he may go further. "I'm going to do a lot of things that may end up being illegal. Until they are, I will do them. I think it will change people's opinion about horror films and they will realize they're not all about slasher [...] I might add that the girls playing Tweedledum and Tweedledee are twins who get to have real, genuine sex with each other. I like to make dreams come true."
Phantasmagoria was once said to be planned for release though Marilyn Manson's website, with Manson claiming the film's release would be "very unconventional." The version of Marilyn Manson's website online in 2006 was very video-extensive. Speaking of this, Manson explained it had "been created to be a place where you can see even more than what is in the film, whether it will be viewed as trailers or teasers, or further elements that aren't necessary to support the film. If you enjoy the film, there's a wealth of knowledge there to dig deeper." The website has since gone through several different incarnations however, so it is unsure if Manson had a website-release for the film in mind. The film was originally attached to Manson's Celebritarian Corporation movement, however in more recent years the artist has shifted away from Celebritarianism, making it unclear if there will be any future Celebritarian Corporation productions.
On April 7, 2010, Revel Studios leaked a 1:35 trailer of Phantasmagoria onto the Internet. It was not until April 22 that the leak became publicized, after which pressure from Manson had the trailer taken offline. Five days later Manson posted a MySpace blog regarding the leak, clarifying the trailer was not intended for the public eye, and that Revel Studios publishing the trailer despite having no involvement with the film was "criminal."
The score for Phantasmagoria is something Manson has described as based on Chris Vrenna's American McGee's Alice soundtrack. Throughout the years, Manson worked with band members including Stephen Bier, Tim Skold and Ginger Fish to write original material for the film, but confessed not wanting to overextend himself past directing and acting. Other music allegedly attached to the film included previously unreleased Marilyn Manson songs, as well as "a song that's a huge influence on the way the movie ends called "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by Roxy Music, and it very well might make its way into a film, which would be very odd because it's a 70's song in a 19th century film."
While Phantasmagoria will allegedly not be released, reception by those who have seen its material have been mixed. When the film was announced at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival, roughly sixty journalists were previewed a trailer, poster and still photographs taken by Steven Klein, to which reception was positive. When this trailer was leaked onto the Internet four years later however, significant negative outcry resulted in the film being placed on hiatus by Wild Bunch.
In 2012 during an interview with Matt Cruz on Little Rock's "The Edge" radio program, Manson said he will indeed film the movie as he had just reread his script. He said he would use a small crew similar to what he did on his Slo-Mo-Tion video and would rather film the movie on an iphone than rather not film it at all.
Promotional trailer stills
- Marilyn Manson portrayed Lewis Carroll, a tormented author who becomes "a symptom of his own invention."
- Lily Cole portrayed Alice.
- The Porcelain TwinZ portrayed Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
- Marilyn Manson – director, lighting, screenplay, score
- Geoffrey Cox – screenplay
- Anthony Silva – director, screenplay
- Benoît Debie – cinematography
- Steven Klein – editing, photography
- Alain de la Mata – producer
- Rudy Coby – illusionist, visual supervisor
- Cyril Helnwein
- Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll press kit. Wild Bunch. February 12, 2006.
- Manson Paid A Visit to Berlin Film Festival. AceShowbiz. February 13, 2006.
- Cole's Violent Film Put On Indefinite Hold. Contactmusic News. September 12, 2010.