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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Double Bill,
This double DVD pairing of Sjostrom's early horror classic 'the Phantom Carriage' and Ingmar Bergman's theatre piece 'The Image Makers' is well worth a look.
First up, the Phantom Carriage is a film packed with eerie scenes and images, and ingenious special effects, all of which add up to what seems to be a genuine lost classic of cinema, more than deserving of mention in the aame breath as Nosferatu, for example. The print looks good, having clearly been heavily restored, and the film rushes by at considerable pace, never losing your attention. the Phantom carriage is worth the investment here on its own.
The Image Makers is basically a filmed chamber-theatre piece from very late in Bergman's career, made for television. It's set during the making of The Phantom Carriage so, I suppose, makes a good double bill, as Victor Sjostrom is the central character - however in itself, the film is a real disappointment. It is filmed on one single set throughout, and the characters (all four of them) seem inert and lifeless. the film is overlong, and lacks any real interest for anyone other than hardcore Bergman completists. I am a great admirer of Bergman's work throughout his career, and he succeeded in making brilliant films with small casts and limited sets at the height of his career, but sadly this film was a real disappointment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Of Sjostrom's Finest.,
Until I ran across reviews for THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE I was totally unfamiliar with it which is odd because I love silent movies, am fond of the supernatural, and am familiar with the works of Victor Sjostrom. I originally ordered the KTL version which I subsequently gave to a friend before purchasing this one which I thought contained both it and an orchestral score but it only has the latter. The orchestral score is perfectly fine and it has Ingmar Bergman's THE IMAGE MAKERS as an added bonus although my copy has the DVD labels reversed.
The story of an abusive alcoholic who is made to see the error of his ways is standard melodramatic material but in Sjostrom's hands it becomes something special. This is due to the supernatural angle, the ingenious use of double exposure for a film of this vintage, and Sjostrom's own presence as an actor. His subtle, unsentimental performance keeps us riveted even though he is a thoroughly detestable human being. Fine performances from Tore Svennberg, Astrid Holm, and especially Hilda Borgstrom as the wife only adds to the enjoyment.
The first time I watched the film (with the KTL score), I was unable to turn it off and was really surprised by the ending which I hadn't expected. The second time (with the orchestral score) I still found it remarkable even though I knew what was coming and that ultimately is the mark of a great film. My only reservation is that the restoration is an older one which is perfectly fine but with today's newer techniques it would have been nice to see an upgraded one. At least we still have the film which is sadly not the case with the majority of Sjostrom's movies.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swede Emotion,
This review is from: Phantom Carriage (DVD)
Wonderful, dark, film. Similar to Dickens' A Christmas Carol is some respects - a horrid old sod shown the error of his ways and forced to confront his demons. Full of rich and sinister imagery, The Phantom Carriage is a compulsive watch, as the lead character's life is spookily unravelled. The soundtrack by KTL deserves a special mention as it contemplates the film superbly with haunting authority. It'd be nice if the soundtrack was available separately - but it isn't. To top things off KTL's Stephen O'Malley (see also Sunn0))), Khanate, Burning Witch etc.) has designed a rather excellent DVD sleeve. One complaint however, the subtitiles in the last 15 mins only flash up on the screen breifly, blink and you miss them.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost Classic - Bergman Loses It?,
A forgotten classic - Victor Sjostrom has suffered a sad case of cultural amnesia, call it "Geographical Displacement Syndrome" if you will. Had the man been churning out motion pictures of this ilk and quality in Hollywood in the '20s, he'd be up there with Murnau and Lang. Sadly, it was not to be, and apart from being cherished by the chief Scandinavian art polymath himself - Ingmar Bergman - Sjostrom vanished from sight as an auteur. Nowadays people chiefly remember him from his role in Bergman's "Wild Strawberries", a curiosity. Now, thanks to the efforts of that paragon of the hard-to-find movie (Tartan, ahem), you can view his labours yourself.
On New Years Eve, three drunkards evoke a tale steeped in the arcane; whomever dies last on New Years Eve is forced to drive the Phantom Carriage - An ancient collector of Dead Souls (which reminds one of Charon and the river Styx) for an entire year, until so relieved by the next to die at that fateful time. David Holm (convieniently one of the drunks) is the man to die in such a way - ironically relieving a friend of the same duty, whilst a dying Salvation Army girl calls for a last wish, the relevance which becomes clear later. All melded together like a metaphysical Robert Altman fable, it's no wonder that the movie has had such influence since. The special effects are not to be sniffed at either - No doubt the scence involving Holm's spirit rising from his body held all who viewed it in thrall.
Turning to the DVD release itself - The transfer is what can be expected in a film produced in 1922, resplendant in scratches and pops, but not bad. Once more, Tartan have included no extras whatsover (see recent releases such as "Edmond" if you don't believe me), which can grate for some who expect such a vaunted film to come inclusive with them. I suppose one could view Bergman's "The Image Makers" as a semi-extra, as it is but a "TV Play" which dramatises the filming of Sjostrom's film and can be considered one of Bergman's lesser offerings. Still, it's far better than the entire career of Brett Ratner.
A word of warning - Tartan does not make it explicitly clear that this and the "KTL Version" have different soundtracks. The KTL Version has an electro-goth soundtrack composed by drone metal band Sunn O))) and Peter Rehberg that is perfect for Fields of the Nephilim fans, whilst this version has the more traditional (not sure if it's the ORIGINAL soundtrack mind) orchestral version and suits the film far better. Another word of warning - The discs are labelled incorrectly, i.e. swapped around. The state of craftmanship nowadays....
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Clear Print But Somewhat Jerky Motion,
This review is of the orchestral 2 disc edition.
The title of my review pretty much says it all. The print is quite clear & watchable, but there is a moderate jerkiness in the entire film to motion that looks like somehow a percentage of frames was dropped in the original mastering process, or perhaps the transfer started out as NTSC (though I have no idea why that would be) & there was a poor NTSC to PAL conversion. The bit rate is quite high, that's not the problem.
If anyone has info on this, I'd appreciate your sharing it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Double Feature,
Any DVD set containing an otherwise unavailable (if admittedly lesser) film by Bergman,
and one of the great under known classics of silent cinema is a package well worth
"The Phantom Carriage" - This Swedish silent is said to be Ingmar Bergman's favorite film,
and the movie that made him want to be a director. You can certainly see it's influence on
Bergman's work, as well as a famous Stanley Kubrick sequence.
But beyond that, this is a very strong silent film on it's own merits. Echoing Dickens' "A
Christmas Carol" , but using a Swedish ghost fable as it's core, a man is forced to revisit
his wasted, angry life at the moment of his death.
The dramatic structure is surprisingly complex, full of flashbacks within flashbacks. The
acting is generally very good. There are a few of those over the top silent film acting
moments, but there are also moments of tremendous emotional power just from the look
in a character's eyes. And some of the images are just thrilling, with simple superimpositions
creating a tremendously effective, creepy, ghostly mood. Great use of color tinting as well.
The modern orchestral score by Matti Bye is very strong - melodic, moving, never distracting,
but certainly doing a great job of underlying the many many emotions of the film, without ever
feeling corny or `faux-period'.
A fascinating and beautifully made silent that certainly had it's
effect on great 20th century filmmaking and film-makers.
"The Image Makers" - More a staged play for television than a film, this is wordy,
theatrical, and yet still has a lot of arresting moments.
A fictionalized dramatization about the making of "The Phantom
Carriage". Yet the play (not written by Bergman) is less about that
specific film than relationships, the adaptation of literature to film
in general, generational conflict, women and men's sexualities as they
age, the tension between social propriety and the desire to cast off
bourgeois trappings among artists, etc.
Just four characters populate this world. The self-satisfied yet
vulnerable film-maker creating "The Image Maker", his somewhat
subservient director of photography, the young, unapologetically
promiscuous actress the director has an affair with, and the 60
something Nobel prize wining female author whose story is the basis for
Almost the entire piece takes place in a screening room as they prepare
to show the great author this cinematic reinvention of her work, but
along the way the group gets broken into various twos and threes
working out their own insecurities and emotional and philosophical
While far from great Bergman, it's always interesting, and the context
of seeing it with the amazing original "The Phantom Carriage" gives it an
additional resonance and depth.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Phantom Charriot,
This review is from: The Phantom Chariot ( Körkarlen ) ( Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness ) (DVD)
Excellent - nice gift to my grandson - he will like it and let his friens see it - Thank you very much
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “The Phantom Carriage” on BLU RAY – Compatibility Issues For UK and EUROPEAN Buyers…,
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Phantom Carriage [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)
At present this obscure 1920 Swedish Black and White film is only available on BLU RAY in the States.
But therein lies a problem for UK and European buyers…
The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.
Until such time as someone like the BFI gives “The Phantom Carriage” a REGION B and C release – check your BLU RAY player has the capacity to play REGION A – before you buy the pricey Criterion issue…
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The KTL edition is fine and powerful stuff,
This review is from: Phantom Carriage (DVD)
A fine classic silent film is given a powerful and compelling music score by KTL that enhances the film's power and spookiness. I haven't seen the orchestral version yet but on the strength of this edition I would recommend this one first. Notice that the reviewer who prefers the orchestral edition only gives it four stars. The KTL edition is easily a five star one.
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Criterion Collection: Phantom Carriage [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] by Victor Sjostrom (DVD - 2011)