Monday, July 19, 2010

1921 - THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE, influential film on a favorite Scandanavian theme, DEATH

An acknowledged silent film classic.  An importance influence on Ingmar Bergman, with some ground breaking special effects.  The Phantom Carriage is disappointing and cheesy viewed in a more contemporary time. 

The filmmaker Victor Sjostrom, tells a conventional story about a man who submits to the evil influences of bad friends and alcohol and becomes a rather unpleasant fellow kind of like the Jack Nicholson character in The Shining.  At one point he even chops down a locked door just like Nicholson did to get at his family.

The only interesting thing about this film is the actual phantom carriage.  The carriage is essentially the Grim Reaper assigned to collect the souls of people who have died.  Sjostrom uses this plot device to rehash his silly drama in flashback which pretty much slides into melodrama with the door chopping madman at the end.

Obviously Ingmar Bergman took this personification of death and used the idea in The Seventh Seal.  Still had Bergman loaded up his films with this type of overwrought plot line, he would hardly be remembered today as one of the foremost artists who worked in film.

This film is an incredible disappointment coming from Victor Sjostrom who made the brilliant film, The Wind for MGM.

No undiscovered classic this time but short at about 75 minutes.

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