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also known as Körkarlen

The Phantom Carriage1921

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  • 4.1
The last person to die on New Year's Eve before the clock strikes twelve is doomed to take the reins of Death's chariot and work tirelessly collecting fresh souls for the next year. So says the legend that drives THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE, directed by the father of Swedish cinema, Victor Sjöström. The story, based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, concerns an alcoholic, abusive ne'er-do-well who is shown the error of his ways, and the pure-of-heart Salvation Army sister who believes in his redemption. This extraordinarily rich and innovative silent classic (which inspired Ingmar Bergman to make movies) is a Dickensian ghost story and a deeply moving morality tale, as well as a showcase for groundbreaking special effects.

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1 member likes this review

This film is absolutely remarkable. Not for the visual effects but for the story telling, the emotion, the redemption, the brilliance of Victor Sjostrom. Unless they are good, most silent films leave my mind wandering, checking my phone, checking my email, wondering what's in the cupboards to eat even though I've eaten too much already today. None of this happens with "The Phantom Carriage," which is why this is one of the Criterion Collection movies I actually own. It is riveting, and I can completely understand Igmar Bergman's obsession with it. The best part for me is the updated soundtrack composed by Matti Bye. It fits so perfectly that you can tell there is change in emotion on the screen just by the change in the music. "The Phantom Carriage" is one of those movies I will play in the background because I love the soundtrack so much. A much watch for every Fandor account holder. Period.

2efae933f63ea5a471b86a486602ec0b?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0082
top reviewer

Member Reviews (5)

2efae933f63ea5a471b86a486602ec0b?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0082
top reviewer

This film is absolutely remarkable. Not for the visual effects but for the story telling, the emotion, the redemption, the brilliance of Victor Sjostrom. Unless they are good, most silent films leave my mind wandering, checking my phone, checking my email, wondering what's in the cupboards to eat even though I've eaten too much already today. None of this happens with "The Phantom Carriage," which is why this is one of the Criterion Collection movies I actually own. It is riveting, and I can completely understand Igmar Bergman's obsession with it. The best part for me is the updated soundtrack composed by Matti Bye. It fits so perfectly that you can tell there is change in emotion on the screen just by the change in the music. "The Phantom Carriage" is one of those movies I will play in the background because I love the soundtrack so much. A much watch for every Fandor account holder. Period.

1 member likes this review

More compelling than later films of the same theme. Sjöström takes emotion to the brink, both as actor and director.

1 member likes this review
2e96eff8174b408fe68458c53c86b24b?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0025
top reviewer

I was comfortable watching this film, as watch it I must, carefully, lest I miss the body language and expressions that conveyed most of the "dialog." After several Parts had gone by, I thought the film too long, but when it was over, the many minutes were necessary. Great praise to the director. The actors were quite good, and the director's touch sharpened their performance. The optimism and naiveté of the film's morality seems difficult to maintain these days, but it was typical of the times. The story was well told, and I ended up caring for the characters, though my experience with alcoholism leaves me with a wait and see attitude towards David. I suspect I'll find portions of the film will return to me over the next week or so.

excellent

I was surprised by how much I liked this film, as I don't usually watch/enjoy a lot of silent films. The narrative in "The Phantom Carriage" is rather sophisticated for its time. There's a story within a story within a story, and flashbacks are utilized as well. The special effects are very impressive and add a certain charm to the film. The music was beautiful and went well with what was happening in the film (sometimes, I think the music in silent films is off), and the acting was good. Highly recommend!