Article #926 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-27-2003
Posting Date: 2-24-2004
Directed by F. W. Murnau
Featuring Alfred Abel, Grete Burger, Lil Dagover
A government clerk falls for a woman after being hit by her carriage in the street; this, along with the belief that he’s about to become rich as a poet, causes him to borrow money recklessly.
My print of this movie had German subtitles, but fortunately I had a printed translation of the subtitles. Unfortunately, they fall hopelessly out of sync towards the end, so I had to do a lot of guessing from that point onwards. It’s an entertaining enough drama, but those attracted to the movie by the supernatural title and the fact that Murnau also gave us NOSFERATU will be severely disappointed; the phantom is purely mental. It’s the image of the woman he loves but can never attain, and despite the fact that the metaphor is manifested physically in the movie (as a ghostly carriage that he chases), there is precious little here for lovers of the fantastic other than a stunning shot of the buildings of the city threatening to fall in upon our hero. The script is by Thea von Harbou, who would participate in many of Fritz Lang’s silent classics.