The Phantom Carriage

Dir: Victor Sjostrom

Sweden

1921

93

U

One of the most important works in Swedish cinema, directed by Victor Sjöström, presented with a score by acclaimed Swedish silent film composer Matti Bye. 

The ICO hope to bring the film and Matti Bye to the UK for a series of screenings in 2015 and would welcome feedback from exhibitors about this project after the screening.

The last person to die on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes twelve is doomed to take the reins of Death’s chariot and work tirelessly collecting fresh souls for the next year. So says the legend that drives The Phantom Carriage(Körkarlen), directed by the father of Swedish cinema, Victor Sjöström (The Wind).

The story, based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, concerns an alcoholic, abusive ne’er-do-well (Sjöström himself) who is shown the error of his ways, and the pure-of-heart Salvation Army sister who believes in his redemption.

This extraordinarily rich and innovative silent classic (which inspired Ingmar Bergman to make movies – he referred to it “one of the great emotional and artistic experiences of my life” and watched it every summer in his private cinema on the island of Fårö) is a Dickensian ghost story and a deeply moving morality tale, as well as a showcase for groundbreaking special effects.

With thanks to Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm.

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