Körkarlen (Victor Sjöström, 1921)

English: The Phantom Carriage


Jun-Dai and Lucía at home on 26 August 2013.

A good movie to watch on New Year’s Eve. Fairly slow, overly moralistic, with fairly cliched and caricaturised characters. Nevertheless, the film has real moments, and the emotional impact of the film is not significantly lessened by this shallowness of the characters. When Georges finds David Holm, David’s terror is palpable. When David is reintroduced to his wife, his speechlessness brings the film to a crashing halt.

It’s pretty hard to imagine how difficult the double exposures throughout the film must have been to shoot. I remember doing a few in college, and it was just enough to give me a taste of how tremendously difficult it must have been to line up David’s body in both exposures.

The axe-through-door scene’s resemblance to The Shining is quite overstated, I think. The scene does a good job of instilling fear and horror, but the real horror is knowing that Anna won’t escape, and will continue be trapped by this madman who has torn his way back into her life. Visually, the resemblance is slight, though they share the feature of a man chopping his way through a door with an axe.

You could be forgiven if, 10 minutes into the film, you thought it was going to be a film about Edit and her attempts to save David Holm, but in the end the film is very much a ghost-of-christmas-past story of David Holm’s life and his wrongdoings. Easy to see where Bergman would draw inspiration for Wild Strawberries. A good alternate title for this film: It’s a Terrible Life.

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