The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage ★★★★½

27 of 126 Years of Cinema (1921)
209 of 365 films you must have seen
Like a dark fairy tale, Körkarlen tells the story of drunkard David Holm (played by director Victor Sjöström himself). On New Year's Eve, he tells his mates about the legend of a phantom carriage, of which the coachman relieves the souls of the dead from their earthly bodies. Whoever dies last every year – on New Year's Eve – shall replace this coachman for the coming year. This time, David Holm is the unlucky fellow. Through flashbacks (within flashbacks) David gets confronted with his life full of sins.
Not knowing what the story would be about before watching it, I found it unexpectedly touching! Similar to Dicken's A Christmas Carol, David learns a huge deal about his life and goes through a huge transformation. Also visually, the film is a milestone in the history of cinema. The double exposure, giving the carriage and its coachman a ghostly appearance, is not only a technical achievement, but also story-enhancing.
In the version I watched (see below), the musical accompaniment is wonderful and perfectly matches the film's mood and pace. A very high recommendation when visiting this highlight in silent cinema!

★★★★★ = Directing
★★★★★ = Narrative
★★★★★ = Visuals
★★★★ = Performance
★★★★★ = Music
- Rating scale based on this version -

Stanley Kubrick pays tribute to the scene where David shatters a door with an axe in The Shining.
Best of: 1921 (and 1920s)
Crossed off: WATCHLIST of Shame!