Körkarlen [The Phantom Carriage] (1921)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Körkarlen</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">The Phantom Carriage</strong>] (1921)

(On Cable TV, October 2018) Like many silent films, director Victor Sjöström’s Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage) is not an easy watch. It feels overlong, overacted, melodramatic and yet decidedly played in low-key compared to later efforts. Its distance from modern viewers is further lengthened by the fact it’s coming from Sweden, with entirely different codes and assumptions. Still, it does have something interesting to say, and its depiction of horror elements being used in the service of a drama-driven story. The plot is not linear (to the point of being a bit of a challenge to follow if you’re expecting the typical silent-movie narrative structure) and the special effects are effective. Further adding to the historical importance is the oft-cited influence of the film on that other significant Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Phantom Carriage to just anyone – budding film historians, especially with a specialty in horror cinema, will best appreciate the result.

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