The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage ★★★½

Film School Drop Outs 2019
Week 2: Genre - Horror - Silent Horror (1913-1928)

I love color tinting in silent films. Perhaps no silent that I find will ever match the bold tinting used throughout Häxan, but The Phantom Carriage has some lovely colors nonetheless. Just the simple use of an orange (essentially sepia) tone for the warm glow indoors and a blue for the cold night outside adds so much to this movie's atmosphere. The soundtrack does that even better -- not only is every piece fitting for the scene it is in, but I was impressed by the risks taken in occasionally using music that was fairly grating, for intense moments like the first approach of the carriage. I've not really encountered this sort of music in silent films yet.

Just as I said about Diary of a Lost Girl last week, The Phantom Carriage seems to understand what needs to be said in intertitles and what can be contextually inferred without having to constantly interrupt the visuals. I must admit, not knowing a lot about this going in, I was surprised to find it less of a horror and more of a tale pretty analogous to A Christmas Carol. There's not a lot I can say is really wrong with it, though I do have to admit that occasionally in the flashbacks I found it to drag a little, and my attention started to wane. I think the film brought it all together pretty well by the end, though. The Phantom Carriage isn't one of the most riveting watches I've had recently, but there is plenty that is absolutely impressive about it, particularly for a film from 1921, and it's definitely worthy of its place in cinematic history.

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