8.1/10
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The Phantom Carriage (1921)

Körkarlen (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 4 June 1922 (USA)
Trailer
1:31 | Trailer
On New Year's Eve, the driver of a ghostly carriage forces a drunken man to reflect on his selfish, wasted life.

Director:

Victor Sjöström
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Victor Sjöström ... David Holm
Hilda Borgström ... Mrs. Holm
Tore Svennberg ... Georges
Astrid Holm ... Edit
Concordia Selander Concordia Selander ... Edit's Mother
Lisa Lundholm Lisa Lundholm ... Maria
Tor Weijden ... Gustafsson
Einar Axelsson ... David's Brother
Olof Ås Olof Ås ... Driver
Nils Aréhn ... Prison Chaplain
Simon Lindstrand Simon Lindstrand ... David's Companion
Nils Elffors Nils Elffors ... David's Companion
Algot Gunnarsson Algot Gunnarsson ... Worker
Hildur Lithman Hildur Lithman ... Worker's Wife
John Ekman ... Police Constable
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Storyline

It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom Chariot, the one that picks up the souls of the dead... David Holm, one of the three drunkards, dies at the last stroke of midnight... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Do the Dead Come Back? Can Your Soul Leave Your Body - And Return Again? Is Spiritualism a Reality? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Sweden

Language:

Swedish

Release Date:

4 June 1922 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Phantom Carriage See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(original) | (2004 TV)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #579. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Maria: Don't fret over those poor souls now, Sister Edit. You've done enough for them.
Edit: Send for David Holm!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Seventh Seal (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a classic
19 December 2002 | by plaidpotatoSee all my reviews

One of the best silent dramas I've seen. As dark and shadowy as anything the German Expressionists produced, but featuring performances that were quite understated and naturalistic for the day. No camera mugging and no unintentional laughs due to wild-eyed arm-waving histrionics. Sjostrom gave a convincing performance as the drunken, mean-spirited and frightening David Holm.

Set mostly at night in a dingy Swedish slum, the film had a very claustrophobic set-bound feel to it, aided by the low key lighting and extensive use of irising.

There was a deep, and typically Scandinavian, sense of despair and hopelessness to the narrative: the film begins in a rather grim present, and then we're told David Holm's story in a series of flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks--a pretty complex story structure for 1921), where his character is offered numerous chances at redemption, but he doesn't take them, and we know he won't take them, because we've seen him die drunk and wretched and mean as ever in the present. The penultimate scene is as dark as any I have seen in all of cinema.

The writing and directing is tight and intelligent, even by today's standards. In several instances, Sjostrom skillfully sets the audience up to suspect one thing, and then pulls out a surprise. The ending might not be such a surprise to some viewers, but I didn't see it coming.

This movie deserves a full restoration and DVD release. Or even a crappy budget release. It just needs to be out there so people can see and appreciate it.

9.5/10, which rounds up to 10/10


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