Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage has just become my new favourite Christmas film. I say Christmas film because it reminds me a little of A Christmas Carol; it is about a man who is given another chance to mend his selfish ways as he is forced to see the error of his past actions and all the pain he has caused. It's such a heart warming story and I have to admit I was pretty close to tears at the end. The film is a silent film from 1921, directed by and starring Victor Sjostrom (who went on to play the central role of the elderly professor in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries). It was very influential, and made a particularly strong impression on Ingmar Bergman. This can be seen in his portrayal of Death in The Seventh Seal and his 1957 film Wild Strawberries. Stanley Kubrick's iconic 'Here's Johnny' scene in The Shining was perhaps also influenced by this film- see similarity in the clip below:

The cinematography is fantastic. The special effects used to show the spectre of death with his carriage and the spirits of the recently dead were very advanced for the time and look great- there is a scene where death goes with his carriage into the sea to recover the soul of a drowned sailor which is particularly haunting.

The soundtrack in the version I watched was really beautiful; in some parts it was vaguely reminiscent of Sigur Ros. There are several versions with different soundtracks- the one I heard was by Matti Bye, a Swedish Silent film composer. The clip I've posted at the top is from the Tartan (now Tartan Pailsades) release and this features a soundtrack by KTL, an electronic duo including Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))). I'd like to watch the film again with the KTL soundtrack as I think it will give the film a whole different feeling.

(by Tara Hill, masquerading as Joey)

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