The Phantom Carriage 1921 Criterion Collection
A Dickensian fantasy with horror overtones, The Phantom Carriage is Sweden's most significant entry in the canon of silent fantastic cinema which flourished around the globe in the 1920s. Composed of a compelling supernatural story, a moral message that would be revisited several more times in Hollywood films, and striking visual effects unlike anything else from the era, it's a still-striking masterpiece from director/actor Victor Sjostrom, one of the major early figures in Swedish cinema (and future star of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries).

Salvation Army nurse Edit (Astrid Holm) is on her deathbed. She has dedicated her last years to trying to reform the alcoholic David Holm (Sjostrom), but as it is New Year's Eve, he would rather continue drinking in a cemetery with his friends than go to her bedside. When he's suddenly killed at the stroke of midnight, David learns that his spirit must undertake a terrible task. The last person to die each year must take over the role of Death, riding in a ghostly wagon to claim the souls of those who pass away. David reviews his life, and must face up to the terrible way he destroyed his family on the way to this ignominious demise.

Charlie Chaplin called it "the best film I've ever seen". Ingmar Bergman, who saw the film over 100 times, said it’s “one of the absolute masterpieces in the history of cinema”. It's based on a novel by the first female to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. It's directed by the father of Swedish cinema. It's cited as an influence on everything from Murnau's Nosferatu to Dryer's Vampyr to Cocteau's Orpheus to Kubrick's The Shining. And author Steven Jay Schneider's ubiquitous book names it one of the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die'.

Director: Victor Sjostrom
Cast: Victor Sjostrom, Hilda Borgstrom, Tore Svennberg
Country: Sweden
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080i AVC, NTSC | 01:47:47 | 40.7 Gb + 7.77 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Svenska intertitles
Subtitles: English


Two scores, one by Swedish composer Matti Bye and the other by the experimental duo KTL

Commentary - an audio commentary by Danish film historian Casper Tyberg, recorded exclusively for Criterion in Copenhagen in May 2011.

Ingmar Bergman - in this video interview excerpted from Gosta Werner's feature documentary Victor Sjostrom: A Portrait (1981(, the legendary Swedish discusses his admiration for Victor Sjostrom and tremendous influence The Phantom Carriage had on him. In Swedish, with optional English subtitles. (16 min, 1080p).

The Bergman Connection - a video essay by film scholar Peter Cowie exploring the influence Victor Sjostrom and The Phantom Carriage had on Ingmar Bergman, as well as their unique relationship. In English and Swedish, with optional English subtitles where necessary. (19 min, 1080i).

Construction of Rasunda Studios - early archival footage from the construction of Rasunda Studios, where The Phantom Carriage was produced. Music only. (5 min, 1080i).