The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage ★★★★

The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 2

Highly influential on practically all accounts, Victor Sjöström's The Phantom Carriage tells a tale as old as time, but it attains an essence of magical artistry, and it is this essence that shines through. Be it the early use of special effects, the trailblazing narrative structure, or merely the themes being brought forth, the film is, without question, a pioneer of its time. Serving as director, writer, and lead actor, Sjöström was able to create something of immense emotion, masterfully imprinting a character so detestable with unabridged sympathy. Both behind the camera and in front of it, Sjöström allowed the audience to resonate with this character, to understand his anguish. Despite our continuous condemnation of his actions, we feel for him and we cry with him.

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