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The Phantom Carriage

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The Phantom Carriage
#11. The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen)
  • Year: 1921
  • Country: Sweden
  • Production: AB Svensk, 93m B&W Silent
  • Director: Victor Sjöström
  • Producer: Charles Magnusson
  • Screenplay: Victor Sjöström, from the novel by Selma Lagerlöf
  • Photography: Julius Jaenzon
  • Cast: Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg, Astrid Holm, Concordia Selander, Lisa Lundholm, Tor Weijden

Abridged Book DescriptionEdit

A celebrated world success in its initial release, The Phantom Carriage not only cemented director-screenwriter-actor Victor Sjöström and the Swedish silent cinema's fame but also had a well-documented, artistic influence on many great directors and producers... Made in a simple but time-consuming and meticulously staged series of double exposures, the filmmaker, his photographer, and a lab manager created a three-dimensional illusion of a ghostly world that went beyond anything previously seen at the cinema. More important perhaps was the film's complex but readily accessible narration via a series of flashbacks - and even flashbacks-within-flashbacks - that elevated this gritty tale of poverty and degradation to poetic excellence... The religious naiveté at the heart of Selma Lagerlöf's faithfully adapted novel might draw occasional laughter from a secular audience some 80 years later, but the subdued, "realist" acting and the dark fate of the main characters, which almost comes to its logical conclusion, save for a melodramatic finale, never fails to impress.

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