Live & Onstage
Sweden, 1921, 107 minutes
Fri, Apr 27 / 07:00 / Castro / PHAN27C
One of the most highly regarded films of the silent era, Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage rides again with a new score composed and presented live by local icon Jonathan Richman. Based on Selma Lagerlöf’s rendition of a Swedish folktale, this moody, surrealistic spooker takes its title from Death’s favorite mode of transportation, which must be driven by the last sinner to die before year’s end. Sjöström both directs and stars in the film, fashioning a supernatural morality tale replete with atmospheric lighting and superimposition effects that were ahead of their time in 1921 and still chill today. He plays David Holm, a belligerent drunkard who must contend with past misdeeds of pettiness and alcoholism as he gathers the souls of the dead. Will he roam the roads forever as a ghostly driver or achieve salvation beyond Death’s spectre? This suspenseful, visually arresting classic was shot by masterful cinematographer Julius Jaenzon and will be screened in a gorgeous new 35mm print specially created for world cinema distributor Janus Films’s 50-year anniversary. Just as special is beloved singer/songwriter Richman’s wildly imaginative score, which he will perform live in the suitably majestic Castro Theatre as Sjöström’s dark tale unfolds in all its silent glory. Richman, who led seminal ’70s band the Modern Lovers and serenaded Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary, selected The Phantom Carriage from a number of silent-era contenders for its timeless themes: No bad deed goes unpunished, and Death has a wicked sense of humor.
With live musical accompaniment by Jonathan Richman.
Sponsored by Janus Films. Presented in association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.