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One Of Sjostrom's Finest.,
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This review is from: The Phantom Carriage (Sjostrom) & The Image Makers (Bergman) [DVD] (DVD)
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.