I can’t hesitate to say that this is a good movie. No. It’s more than that. It’s a life lesson which makes you question if you are amiable in life and grateful, to say the least, and destined for paradise.
This would be my answer to someone who wishes to see one of the most spectacular films ever made. It feels Ingmar Bergman. But it’s not. It’s even better. It’s a film that had been hidden in the obscurity of my knowledge. I adore it so deeply that I can’t even find the right words.
It’s dark, that’s what it is. There’s talk of Death and Hell, few of my very worst fears, which captivated my attention at once. There’s talk of afterlife and I always question its existence. Its philosophical views on chastisement after death absorbed me instantly. I was so enthralled. The atmosphere is Death itself. Victor Sjöström shows how one may react after dying and seeing their own cadaver lying there without a single heartbeat.
It also has numerous elements of kindness and how it can be useless but be later used if one keeps believing in someone. There’s also cruelty involved and it shows you how cold the world could seem when one repents their evil deeds.
At first, I thought this film was going to be slow and make me sleepy, to be honest. Oh, it’s better I thought of it that way because I was so very astounded within that hour!
It reminded me a bit of The Christmas Carol, yeah; that’s true.
But it was better than any dark film I had ever seen.
This is a Swedish nugget I unearthed in my search on my escape from boredom.
Oh right! Did I say what it was even about? No, forgive me, my dears! (Damn my absent-mindedness.)
So it’s New Years’ Eve and these three guys are drinking on a graveyard. I don’t know why but maybe it’s because it’s a cool place where drunks feel most comfortable (among the dead, of course). One of them, David Holm, tells the story of a legend that if you die last on the year, you become the driver of Death’s carriage for the following year. What is that, one may ask. Well, it’s a miserable job where you dress like the Grim Reaper and you have to go around collecting the souls of anyone who dies. By the way, Death forces you to do this, as he is your only master, and you work 24/7 and there are no breaks. Oh yes, a whole night can feel like a thousand years.
But anyway, David finishes telling the story by saying that one of his old drinking comrades died on the last New Years’ Eve and heartily laughs. He was formerly a dedicated father and husband. And this old drinking buddy he mentions is the one guilty of turning him into a heartless sot.
Then one of the town’s good men named Gustafsson comes and tells David that a dying woman named Edit is waiting for him at her deathbed. She had previously helped him when he was homeless and wasting away with tuberculosis.
David refuses to go. His drunken comrades are shocked. She was a Salvation Army girl who did nothing but love him and think the best for him.
His drunken comrades attempt to drag him but he is belligerent in his refusal. One of his comrades hit him with an empty beer bottle and…..he dies. And clock strikes twelve.
Death’s servant arrives and we see that he is David’s dead drinking pal, Georges. He tells David that he is to be the new driver of Death’s carriage.
Then he tells David of all the bad deeds he committed….and on goes the story with recurrent flashbacks that coherently explain the background of the characters without any confusion.
I won’t tell any more because this film is simply too magnificent to be awfully described in my vague writing.
If one ever wants to see art transcend time, this film is for you. It can affect one in any generation. It did that to me. I kept screaming at David!
This is not only an old silent film from 1921 with surreal special affects, it’s a life lesson to a human. One doesn’t live forever and shows you how one could feel desolated when seeing their own dead body. It tells you of the possible real deal after Death. Well, really, if your life is near over, then at least make it count. Make it good. That it was worth living. This film spoke to me in various ways. It told me to strive to be as good as I could. And to stay away from alcohol.
It’s profound. It’s enlightening. It’s creepy. It’s as if the monster that scared you as a child were to nestle you in his arms and tell you the realities of life and how to live them.
The Phantom Carriage needs to be watched at least once in one’s lifetime. That’s how much it means to me. One could even feel cold watching this. My mind was cold and free of confusion.