Erique Claudin is the primary antagonist/anti-hero of the 1943 film The Phantom of the Opera, loosely based on Erik in Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera. In the original script of the movie, Erique was Christine's father, but that idea was dropped. He was portrayed by Claude Rains, who also portrayed Griffin in The Invisible Man.
Erique Claudin has been a violinist for the Paris Opera House for 20 years. He is in unrequited love with opera singer Christine DuBois, and has for years been secretly paying for her music lessons. One day, the owner of the Paris Opera House calls for a meeting with Claudin and accuses him of deiberately writing discordant music for the violin ensemble. Claudin pleads innocence, explaining that he has been suffering from rheumatism, but the owner fires him regardless.
Needing money, Claudin goes to Signor Ferretti, Christine's music teacher, and begs him to continue to instruct Christine despite not getting paid, until Claudin gets a new secure position. Ferretti refuses. Claudin tells him he has written a concerto, and asks him once again to consider teaching Christine for free. Ferretti once again refuses. Claudin and Ferretti get into an argument that ends with Ferretti throwing acid in his face, horrifically disfiguring him. Claudin flees into the sewers, and dons a mask to hide his disfigured face.
An employee of Pleyel who quits for the day comes out and Claudin asks him about his manuscript. The employee claims that he doesn't know anything about it. Claudin sneaks in, intent on getting his script back. He interrupts Pleyel & his secretary etching images. Pleyel orders his secretary to give Claudin his concerto. She can't find it. Claudin gets mad and worried. Pleyel, now tired of Claudin, tells him that an employee probably threw it in the wastebasket where it belongs. Pleyel tells him good night and walk back to his etchings. Claudin hears his music being played on piano. Franz Liszt plays it while talking to an employee. The employee says he has been trying to convice Pleyel for years to publish Claudin's work. Liszt responds that Pleyel will publish this. Unfortunately, Claudin cannot hear their conversation, he hears only the music being played and believes Pleyel is stealing his music, publishing it under his own name. Claudin, in a torrent of rage, chokes Pleyel to death. When Pleyel falls to his demise on the floor, his secretary throws the acid, used for the etchings on Claudin.
Claudin, with a lot of pain, and now hunted by the police, goes into the sewers and makes his way to the Opera House. He gets a mask to hide his disfigured face. He steals food when he has the opportunity. He also steals the master key, which opens all 2500 doors in the Paris Opera House. Erique kills BiancarolliAdded by TheRatCatcherHe starts his reign on terror on those who stand in the way of Christine's career and those who stand in the way for his goals. His first victim is Biancarolli. Aware of, that Christine is Biancarolli's stand-in, he drugs Biancarolli on a show so Christine will do her parts in what remains of the shows. Later, Biancarolli is furious with what has happened. She believes that Anatole did it for Christine. The opera house crew convinces her to forget about it as it could hurt the Paris Opera House, as well as herself. Biancarolli agrees under certain conditions. She demands that if she is to forget that she was drugged tonight, everyone should forget that Christine's success this night. They reluctantly accepts her decision with dismay from Christine, but Anatole seems even more mad about it than Christine. Erique who has found out about this is really annoyed with Biancarolli now. Later, he shows up in her dressing room and kills her.
Anatole spots the Phantom running away and decides to run after him which leaves him in a dangerous situation which has him losing his track on him. Erique brings down the chandelierAdded by TheRatCatcherNext concert Raoul decides to have another person take Christine's role. However Christine does show up becaushe she couldn't stay away. Erique decides to release another torrent of terror on the people and brings down the large chandelier on the audiene and cause panic and chaos to spread. Erique & Christine in his lairAdded by TheRatCatcherAs the audience and the crew flee, Erique lures Christine that he is from the police and is delegating Raoul and takes her down to his lair, pursued by Anatole, Raoul and the other police officers. Christine realizes he's not from the police and wants to get away. Erique says that they will have it wonderful down here. Christine will sing for him, and he will play. He also says that the people of the Opera House has corrupted her against him, that's why she's afraid. Liszt plays Claudin's concerto and Erique who hears it plays along. The first song is "Lullaby of the Bells" and Christine who heard it in Provence and made her rendition of it can't understand how this Phantom could play it and claim it to be his. He urges her to sing and she does. But after a while when she stands beside him she tore off his mask. Erique shortly before the endAdded by TheRatCatcherShe backs away in terror of the sight of Erique's deformed face. Raoul and Anatole walks in too and Raoul accidentally fires a shot. While Christine, Raoul and Anatole makes their way out, Erique is buried under a pile of rocks. Erique's mask and violinAdded by TheRatCatcherIn the end however, the mask and the violin is placed in front of the rocks and some of the rocks were moving. Some believe this could indicate that Erique put the music behind him and was going for a new beginning.