in about 100 words or less
Sweden 93m, silent (B&W)
Director: Victor Sjöström; Cast: Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström and Tore Svennberg
Based on the title and the eerie double exposure camera work, it’s understandable why The Phantom Carriage is often described in the horror genre, but aside from this imagery, the film can best be described as a darker and more melodramatic version of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”. The non-linear method of story telling which Sjöström employs is remarkably complex for the time, and extremely effective for any period in cinema. The central themes of this film are betrayal, compassion, love and forgiveness, and while some of the inter-titles tend to be over-zealous in their moralistic message, the film is quite effective in creating real feelings of disdain and empathy for the central characters. While Körkarlen provided some of the most memorable visual images in early film making, it remains a little-known New Year’s classic (Klaus Ming November 2008).