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The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage

1921
Drama
Horror
1h 47m
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... (imdb)
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The Phantom Carriage

1921
Drama
Horror
1h 47m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 73.17% from 766 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

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Rated 03 Oct 2020
100
97th
Strongly reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, but just as much a masterpiece. Still feels surprisingly fresh and modern despite being a century old(!), thanks largely to the acting being stronger and more naturalistic than in other silent films. The ending is maybe a tad too upbeat, but I can forgive that. Also, it's a real stretch to call this a horror film just because it has ghosts in it - it's not remotely scary, and it isn't trying to be.
Rated 02 Aug 2010
85
92nd
I was quite surprised at how emotionally invested I became in the characters of this silent film. The framed story is simple but hits the right notes with a strong message, and there's a ton of small, interesting moments like the axe-through-the-door scene, or a suicide that seems pretty shocking for the time period. Everything surrounding the Phantom Carriage itself rocked; the looks, the special effects, and the fact that it's a goddamn ghostly corpse cart. Metal.
Rated 05 May 2009
86
92nd
An eerie, and morbid feel to it, with a plot far superior to most of the stuff that came out of the 20's. Victor Sjostrom's mastery of silent era directing and technique is something that makes even the most close minded capable of watching this movie. It is completely and utterly fantastic.
Rated 25 Oct 2020
85
89th
While the effects of the titular ghostly, "Phantom Carriage" still hold up as wonderfully eerie, it was the dark Swedish New Year's Eve not-"A Christmas Carol" story that surprisingly had me so engaged with this early classic silent horror/drama film. While the movie's pretty heavy handed with it morality tale, however, I definitely did not see that ending coming. *Spoilers* the movie called me a "Slut".
Rated 14 Jul 2008
92
96th
Reportedly the movie that made Bergman want to be a filmmaker, and almost certainly an influence on Kubrick as well. It's a gripping ghost story about redemption, much in the style of Dickens and "A Christmas Carol". The look of this film is astonishing and haunting, with phenomenal lighting and double-exposure effects that are impressive for 1921. Sjostrom himself is terrific in the lead, playing quite a scoundrel. It's clear why Bergman wanted to cast him in Wild Strawberries.
Rated 01 Jan 2017
76
87th
Special effects extravaganza and cautionary tale about the woes wrought by the demon drink it may be, but the narrative structure, visual power and sheer melodrama make it quite a gripping page-turner, and it is not difficult to see why both Bergman and Kubrick felt drawn to borrow some of the more compelling imagery for their own reflections on death and madness. Watched on New Year's Day 2017, 96 years to the day after the Swedish premiere.
Rated 06 Jun 2010
98
99th
One of my favorite silent movies. I was excited through all of the movie eventhough I watched it alone and tired on the sofa. The acting is sort of in a limbo between naturalism and unreal the silent way, but it just works for me. And the scene that is copied in detail in The Shining is fantastic. Gripping, heartbreaking and spooky, you don't get them any better.
Rated 03 Feb 2015
5
70th
not really a horror film so much as it uses horror elements to explore aspects of guilt. easily the most narratively accomplished film up until 1921 i've seen to date, but unfortunately sjöström's moral perspective is a very uncritical religious conservatism, right up to the terrible ending. still, it's all very nicely rendered, and it's not hard to see why ingmar bergman was influenced by it. btw: KTL's music was utterly incongruous, so i quickly switched to matti bye's lovely chamber score.
Rated 12 Sep 2015
82
80th
It just drips and drips the feeling of guilt until you're covered in it. Fantastic visual touches both in the effects and the cinematography
Rated 11 Feb 2008
93
98th
An incredible film about guilt and responsibility. Sjöström is excellent both as the lead and as the director. The acting is top notch and especially Sjöström gives an incredibly deep performance that makes you really feel for his character. Visually the film shows its age but there's a lot to like, especially the ghostly scenes with the Phantom Carriage. I'm not sure I entirely agree with some of the film's views but they are well presented.
Rated 10 Aug 2018
87
97th
What a masterpiece! Who knew that the Swedish of all people would make one of if not the single great version of "A Christmas Carol". Now I know this is actually based on another novel but the two stories are very similar. The acting, cinematography, and special effects were marvelous. It was such a surprising joy to watch this.
Rated 24 Sep 2017
80
92nd
(Viewed on 11/07/13): Gloomy Dickensian morality tale was enormously influential and one of the first genuinely great pioneering works of early cinema. As others have noted, the moralising does detract from the experience at times, but it's rich in atmosphere and mood, and Sjorstrom creates many idelible images that stick. The use of expressive lighting and double exposure was ahead of its time, and Sjorstrom is compelling in the lead role. The Phantom Carriage sequences are truly extraordinary.
Rated 25 Aug 2012
84
81st
The otherworldly special effects make this a must-see film, and the story of a drunkard having to face his past sins gives it a solid backbone. The extremely blunt moralizing was kind of annoying at times, but otherwise I thought that this was pretty brilliant.
Rated 20 Feb 2014
80
71st
Slut
Rated 09 Jul 2009
40
27th
It's full of devices: It's a frame story as well as one of those morality ghost tales along the lines of Capra's It's a Wonderful Life or Dickens' Christmas Carol. And yet I'm not impressed by morality tales and it sort of bored me, even though it had its moments. The only thing I really liked is the cinematography - good staging, framing and lighting, and yeah, the phantom carriage scenes were nicely done.
Rated 02 Oct 2019
80
75th
It's like A Christmas Carol, but Swedish and depressing.
Rated 26 May 2018
87
81st
I love the opening half - the flashback-within-a-flashback ramble to coherently establish the rules of the world. Extremely cool. Some of the intercutting feels ahead of its time, and the work here from the co-writer/director/actor Sjolstrom is impressive. Its didactic moral nature, though a quality of its time and restrained comparatively to others, leaves it a peg below transcendent greatness for me - but it is great in that it clearly achieves its artistic intention.
Rated 13 Apr 2018
86
92nd
Gritty & moody nordic inverse of Sunrise that still packs a punch. Exceptionally well filmed & acted with some incredibly adept storytelling for the time. If you watch only one version please make it the Swedish cut. The American edit is a very different & less interesting film that loses a lot of the subtlety & finesse to make the religious aspect even more obvious & clear cut. Sjöström's original is a masterfully told story about guilt & ambiguous redemption with a nice touch of the ghoulish
Rated 11 Nov 2013
95
91st
One of the best silent films I've ever seen. Grabs you from the first screen and doesn't let go with many haunting images. Influences on Bergman are clearly evident, with a storyline that tackles guilt and the human psyche, and extensive use of closeups to display emotion.
Rated 28 Oct 2019
5
93rd
Dickensian tale of anguish and remorse curated from beyond the grave. Cynics may have trouble swallowing this morality play (I waver), but there's no denying its narrative and filmic proficiency. A complex, elegant structural integrity is much more sophisticated than most other early films, and the ghostly lighting and effects are utterly bewitching, further elevated nearly a century after its initial release by a 1998 Matti Bye score, one of the best I've ever heard.
Rated 25 Jan 2020
85
74th
Sjostrom delivers an eerie tale that ventures through memories revisited by death. In a society vowed to life without regret, ironically, death shines light on it's wasted existence. Paced at it's own melancholic stride, the score is incredibly coherent with the film's frame of emotion. A chilling narrative that accomplishes quite a bit.
Rated 01 Jan 2020
65
38th
The redemptive ending made no sense to me and ruined this for me. He was beyond it. The scene where he coughed on his kids was proof enough.
Rated 12 Oct 2014
6
7th
The phantom carriage and the spirits who travel with it are mesmerizing. The stories behind the story start out captivating-- till they are dragged out, stomped over, and drained to their ghostly bitter . . oh please just throw them all on the freaking phantom carriage and just end it already.
Rated 10 Feb 2013
80
81st
Amazing effects for the production time. It reminded me a bit of Dickens' "Christmas Carol" - a little too positive in the end for my taste, but that's just true to the book, definitely something for every silent movie fan
Rated 29 Jul 2020
86
88th
85.5.
Rated 05 Jan 2022
79
80th
What I most marveled at is the way it's been shot. It's so beautiful and spooky and the amount of effort that went into creating the special effects must have been insane. Many of the things in this movie have affected the ones that came after it, and even if the story is quite basic, it has some daring moments for its time. Those The Shining -vibe in theres, too.
Rated 02 Mar 2008
70
52nd
# 599
Rated 14 Sep 2015
0
2nd
Not interested.
Rated 12 Jul 2023
100
95th
There isn't a scene that isn't meticulously constructed in this masterpiece. Apart from all the technical aspects it is a touching and powerful story about guilt and redemption.
Rated 02 Mar 2018
85
80th
Looked really good, the exposure techniques were impressive for the year it was made, the performances were excellent, I cared for the characters. The Matti Bye OST on the one I watched was also banging, complimenting the action perfectly. Great all around, although it being labeled as horror is a really loose usage of the genre because it has ghosts and death but it is anything but scary.
Rated 12 Mar 2013
80
68th
I do think it gets a tad one note eventually ("oh, look at how bad he was!") in its retelling of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, but I'd also say that the ending is so effective that I'm actually rather willing to forgive that. Its effects are fantastic, and it's very well lit, but as with some other Sjostrom films it's tempting to summarise its main strength as taking a classic story that verges on archetypal and telling it so well you forget quite how archetypal it is.
Rated 10 May 2023
100
97th
Wow! I was so impressed with this. I have never been so enthralled in a silent film. Not only great (ahead-of-its time) special effects, but also excellent acting, story and music (not sure if original score). A powerful movie and message.
Rated 11 Jan 2021
84
56th
B+
Rated 19 Dec 2008
67
34th
661
Rated 04 Mar 2016
80
58th
Repent or else
Rated 04 Nov 2018
86
86th
New Years Evil
Rated 25 Jul 2014
96
99th
Great cinematography, with many memorable and influential scenes. The lighting is especially expressive: all those little rooms with harsh lamps casting dark shadows in the night, with the enclosing darkness of the close-up shots tellingly driving home the emotion. This atmosphere--coupled with some fine performances and technically impressive double-exposure work--creates an eery and absorbing take on a classic type of morality tale.
Rated 08 Jun 2022
95
94th
Masterpiece !
Rated 02 Feb 2021
3
72nd
The year is 1921, mind you.
Rated 29 Aug 2014
6
86th
sjostrom (an uncanny j. c. mcginley doppelganger) is the kind of rampaging alcoholic lunatic who coughs his terminal infection onto a cloth and throws it in his wife's face, but the purest nun in all of silentdom still believes he can be saved. this makes for the most harrowing rendition of A (NEW YEAR) CAROL you'll ever experience. elegant, expressive performances, an intoxicating atmosphere, some indelible images and a willingness to go to some very dark places--but above all, so very moving.
Rated 08 Jul 2020
60
77th
simplistic 'A Christmas Carol' rip off.
Rated 12 Jan 2019
85
92nd
Very good morality tale about reformation. The framing device of flashbacks in flashback works very well in effectively telling the story.
Rated 22 Feb 2019
91
84th
90.50
Rated 16 Jan 2009
89
74th
Vid?la jsem tento film s živým hudebním doprovodem a bylo to úžasné!!
Rated 11 Aug 2018
90
77th
Probably a fair comparison to say this is the Sweedish version of Dickens 'A Christmas Carol.'
Rated 14 Oct 2013
78
66th
Beautiful and sad.
Rated 04 Mar 2024
92
76th
Victor Sjostrom's haunting masterpiece is considered one of the first horror films and a landmark in Swedish cinema. A silent-era ghost story with innovative narrative structure, clever camera techniques and revolutionary special effects. An intoxicating viewing experience that challenges the viewer with story narrative and the use of flashbacks within flashbacks. "The Phantom Carriage" has influenced other great films like Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"(1957) and Kubrick's "The Shining"(1980).
Rated 09 Nov 2016
79
80th
It's somewhat like a darker, silent, Swedish version of It's a Wonderful Life. Although it's really a new years' movie instead of a Christmas movie (or even a Halloween movie, as I've seen it called) it's this grim story about redemption that must have influenced tons of successors.
Rated 27 Dec 2011
100
96th
watched: 2011, 2013, 2021
Rated 31 May 2016
98
99th
Leaves a huge cliffhanger for Körkarlen 2! Who will become the next körkarlen?
Rated 06 Jun 2018
97
96th
Filmaço, um crescendo narrativo sem igual, mas me surpreendeu o quão moralista na realidade é, há reminiscências de O Conto de Natal do Dickens. DVD Obras-primas do cinema Horror Mudo.
Rated 19 Feb 2012
92
96th
"The film of all films", according to Ingmar Bergman.
Rated 02 Feb 2021
95
96th
I wonder if any director in this century have the courage to make a film like this with the limitless technology they have?
Rated 25 Dec 2010
90
92nd
90.250
Rated 23 Nov 2011
95
98th
One of the finest silents I've seen. The message is poignant without being cheesy, the story is engaging, the acting is superbly naturalistic, and the direction and effects are out of this world. It's entertaining, it's moving, and it's undeniably creepy. Perfectly paced, delightfully moody. A gem of silent cinema.
Rated 08 Aug 2023
90
87th
This is an incredible film. It's dense flashback within flashback narrative structure seems completely original among silent films, yet it's not at all confusing. The incredible spirit effects are all done in camera and are utterly revolutionary. On top of all that, it's a social commentary with elements of "A Christmas Carol" (and pointing a bit towards "It's a Wonderful Life").
Rated 17 Jun 2015
80
60th
When it gets hold of your heartstrings, it doesn't let go.
Rated 15 Jan 2010
64
28th
716
Rated 03 Jan 2021
18
4th
Amazing for it's time, but today it's one of the most boring things you could watch. Every scene is so slow and boring.
Rated 01 Oct 2022
85
85th
Quite a bit like A Christmas Carol. Surprisingly modern silent with strong performances and a simple but perfectly executed (if at times overly moralistic) story. Effects still cool today, 101 years later, and are mind-blowing for the time. Also hugely influential, impacting people from Bergman to Kubrick immensely. Made me wonder about prohibition in Sweden, and I was unsurprised to learn that it was a hot button issue, narrowly failing in a referendum the next year. Sjostrom must have been pro
Rated 30 May 2012
84
75th
A strong visual film from Sjostrom. The way that light regularly breaks in from the top of the frame, while darkness creeps in from the sides gives the film a rich atmosphere consistent with the main character's struggle for his soul. The film does feel a bit repetitive by the end as it traces the depths to which Bill sinks, but the special effects and compelling narrative with that visual style make this a solid, entertaining film.
Rated 02 Dec 2011
62
24th
#763
Rated 16 Oct 2010
85
71st
The Phantom Carriage is actually fairly spooky and has a handful of fantastic scenes, but the underlining moral thread that drives the film makes it come off as sort of a pro-temperance A Christmas Carol. Besides, Sjostrom shouldn't have even gotten a second chance, dude was coughing his death germs and shit all over everyone. He had it comin'!
Rated 17 Feb 2013
78
91st
The prints looked really good in the hulu version, and I liked the visuals overall. Sometimes the acting in silent films can seem dated, weakening the emotional impact and poignancy of the film--but that's not the case in this film, particularly from Victor Sjostrom (who looked like a cross between Glen Hansard and John Lithgow). There's a scene that seems to be the inspiration to the ax scene in The Shining. "Lord, please let me soul come to maturity before it is reaped." Amen.(ps:73)

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