New Release: The Phantom Carriage Blu-ray and DVD

The Phantom Carriage movie scene

Death's chariot awaits at the stroke of midnight in The Phantom Carriage.

Criterion released The Phantom Carriage (or Körkarlen in its native Swedish), the 1920 silent film by the acknowledged father of Swedish cinema, Victor Sjöström, on Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 27, 2011.

Mixing drama, fantasy and horror, the movie concerns an abusive alcoholic (portrayed by Sjöström himself) who takes to heart a legend that claims that the last person to die on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes twelve is doomed to take the reins of Death’s chariot and work to collect fresh souls for the next year.

Based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, the innovative silent film classic is filled with groundbreaking-for-their-time special effects. It’s also reportedly the movie that inspired Ingmar Bergman (The Magician) to get into the business of making films (which worked out pretty well for him).

Featuring a new digital transfer and presented with Swedish intertitles accompanied by English subtitles, the Blu-ray and DVD carries the list prices of $39.95 and $29.95.

Here’s a list of the features that are on the Blu-ray and DVD:

  • two scores, one by acclaimed Swedish composer Matti Bye and the other by the experimental duo KTL
  • audio commentary featuring film historian Casper Tybjerg
  • interview with Ingmar Bergman excerpted from the 1981 documentary Victor Sjöström: A Portrait, by Gösta Werner
  • The Bergman Connection, an original visual essay by film historian and Bergman scholar Peter Cowie on The Phantom Carriage’s influence on Bergman
  • booklet featuring an essay by screenwriter and filmmaker Paul Mayersberg

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.