#10 The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Phantom Carriage is one of Sweden’s earliest most memorable films in Swedish film history. This film is about a legend where the last person who dies before the new year is supposed to drive around for a year on the phantom carriage collecting the souls of the dead. I was surprised seeing how dark the subject matter was for the 1920s. Spooky morbid legends, sinners, suicide attempts. Then again, America was really the country that put restrictions on its films at the time. Other countries had more freedom.

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This film is known for its use of double exposures for its special effects. I was very impressed with that because while D.W. Griffith used this effect for his films in tiny glimpses, this effect was used throughout the whole film for the ghosts. It’s a good method to further distinguish the deceased from the living this way instead of using theatrical techniques like different costumes or extreme make-up. Interestingly enough, since the camera used for this film had to be cranked, the speed of the crank had to be exactly the same to get the double exposures in. Watching the ghosts in this film reminds me of the ghosts from The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney. When I first went on that ride when I was little, I actually thought they were real ghosts. Write in what you think of the effects.

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One filmmaker who was heavily influenced by this film was Ingmar Bergman, the filmmaker behind Wild Strawberries and Franny and Alexander. Each of his well-known films had influences from The Phantom Carriage. He would make it his mission to watch this film once every year. That’s real dedication to me. Agree or disagree? Also, try to guess what movie this scene reminds you of.

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I’ll admit this while I find this film decent, not exactly my favorite. Probably because of how simple everything was wrapped up. But I still recommend watching this for being a first to use double exposure special effects and if you’re an Ingmar Bergman fan.

Watch this Swedish ghostly feature and comment what you think: 

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One thought on “#10 The Phantom Carriage (1921)

  1. Pingback: #15 Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) – 1001 Films in 365 Days

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