Saturday, March 15, 2014


In the beginning...She Blinded Me With Silents (Post 7 of 12)

The Phantom Carriage
The only thing I knew about The Phantom Carriage coming into this is that it was an influential Swedish film directed by Victor Sjostrom, who much later would star in Ingmar Bergman's classic Wild Strawberries.

A young charity worker is about to die (of TB, or course). She wishes to have a man named David visit her deathbed. We then come to David who we see is a drunk and conveys to his friends a story about the title's phantom carriage that at the end of the year seeks someone recently deceased to become the carriage's new coachman. A person that knows the charity worker and David finds him and tries to convince him to see her. He refuses, but his other friends also try to get him to see her. A scuffle ensues and David is killed. The clock strikes midnight and a new year begins and the carriage comes into view for David to become the new coachman.

The rest of the film shows flashbacks of David and how he was abusive toward his family and what led him into a life of drunkenness. David can see the past through the old coachman. He finally wants to make amends when his wife and children are about to die and  is finally restored to them and vows to live a righteous life.

The use of flashbacks int The Phantom Carriage to tell the story was probably quite novel for 1921, as were the special effects during the scenes where the ghosts appear transparent in the frame. These scenes are still a little unsettling even today. Overall I liked The Phantom Carriage, though I admit, that with some silent dramas like this one, I respect it more for its historical importance than anything else.

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