Dir: Victor Sjöström
Another film on the list that I’d been looking forward to, although, other than being aware of its ground-breaking special effects and that Ingmar Bergman had watched it a lot, I knew very little about it. Here’s a quick synopsis from IMDB:
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…
Cassie described this film as “the first that she’d actually enjoyed”, and I can see where’s she’s coming from. The Phantom Carriage feels incredibly progressive when compared to its American-filmed contemporaries. From the aforementioned special effects (I would have loved to experienced how cinema-goers of 1921 reacted to the ghostly apparitions–a wonderful and realistic effect, even today), to the refined subtleties of Victor Sjöström’s acting (remember, this is the same time at which D.W. Griffith is encouraging the actors in his melodramas to be, well, Melodramatic), to the narrative within a narrative within a narrative, this feels like an incredibly modern film.
I also think it’s going to make the next film on the list, Griffith’s final blockbuster, seem somewhat tired.