The Phantom Carriage (1920) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Phantom Carriage (1920)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Also known as Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness, The Phantom Chariot was the most famous of Swedish director Victor Sjöstrom's pre-Hollywood films. Based on a novel by Selma Lagerlöf, the film is predicated on an ancient Scandanavian legend. It is said that each year, on St. Sylvester's Night (New Year's Eve), a phantom chariot materializes to carry off the souls of those who have sinned. On one such occasion, David Holm (played by Sjöstrom) is forced to recall his past misdeeds, especially his brutal treatment of his wife. Holm's only hope for salvation lies in his performing a spectacular act of selflessness. As the chariot approaches, Holm despairs: how can he possibly be redeemed before the clock strikes twelve? Sjöstrom's masterful direction is superbly complemented by Julius Jaenzon's multi-exposure cinematography. When artists like Victor Sjöstrom and Mauritz Stiller were lured away by Hollywood, their exodus very nearly brought the wrath of "The Phantom Chariot" on the entire Swedish film industry.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Horror, Art House & International, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Victor Sjöström
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 26, 2011
Criterion Collection - Official Site


Concordia Selander
as Edith's Mother
Olof Aas
as Driver
Olof Ås
as Driver
Nils Ahrén
as Prison Chaplain
Einar Axelsson
as David's Brother
John Ekman
as Police constable
Anna-Lisa Baude
as Salvation Army Soldi...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Phantom Carriage

Critic Reviews for The Phantom Carriage

All Critics (7)

The Phantom Carriage is not so much a whole film as it is a filmed collection of ideas, but the manner and enthusiasm to which they are realized is arresting, and hypnotic.

Full Review… | August 1, 2013
David Keyes' Cinema 2000

The Phantom Carriage was quite spiritually and emotionally advanced for its day, comparable to Chaplin's The Kid, from the same year, and to D.W. Griffith.

Full Review… | September 30, 2011
Combustible Celluloid

Using superimposition and double-exposure to bring the rickety wagon and its wretched occupants to ghostly life, The Phantom Carriage balances visual poetry with emotional violence.

Full Review… | September 26, 2011
Total Film

Slower than death itself, but just as spine chilling, this metaphysical morality play feels less like an artefact from a different era than a wintry warning from another world.

Full Review… | September 26, 2011

The double-exposure photography used throughout is a stupefying achievement of its own, an incantation of overlapping worlds and a visualization of the characters' growing awareness of the connection between body and soul.

Full Review… | September 26, 2011

Sjöström's film is not just an early horror, but an argument for the moral validity of cinema itself.

Full Review… | September 26, 2011
Eye for Film

Audience Reviews for The Phantom Carriage

A journey to redemption that is poetic and eerie in equal measures. A silent masterpiece.

Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

beautiful and spooky, it's like a swedish variation on dickens' 'christmas carol' with a quite sophisticated flashback structure and up to four layers super imposition effects. director victor sjostrom also stars. best of all, it's in public domain and can be found on youtube and internet archive

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Based on Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! by Selma Lagerlof, The Phantom Carriage is one of the masterworks of Swedish Cinema. Directed by actor and director Victor Sjostrom, the film inspired Ingar Bergman to make movies, if that tells you anything. The groundbreaking special effects, the Charles Dickens type story and the performances are absolutely amazing. It also influenced people like Stanley Kubrick, most notably in The Shining. I actually hadn't heard of this before but I bought the Criterion Blu-ray release and fell in love with it. For those who have the patience for silent films, this is an amazing film.

Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

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