The Phantom Carriage (1921) Movie Script

under the direction of VICTOR SJOSTROM
Once there was a poor
Salvation Army sister at death's door.
She'd been stricken
with galloping consumption
and had only held out
for the space of a year.
When there was no hope left,
she'd gone home to her mother.
Waiting at the foot of her bed
was another Salvation Army sister
who had worked
alongside the sick girl.
Don't fret over
those poor souls now, Sister Edit.
You've done enough for them.
Send for David Holm.
Please don't.
My daughter was yours
as long as she had a spark of life.
Now that she's dying,
let me have her to myself.
Sister Maria,
why don't you do as I ask?
Send for David Holm.
I shall go find him at once.
You can't be serious.
Asking David Holm
to attend to a dying person.
I wasn't able to find him,
but Gustavsson is looking too.
He'll bring him here
if it's at all possible.
Poor Mrs. Holm.
I'll take her back home.
It wouldn't do for her husband
to see her if he should come here.
The evening on which these events
took place was no ordinary evening.
It was New Year's Eve.
Well, we'll certainly know
when it's time to toast the New Year.
It's a spooky place to wait for midnight,
here among the dead.
You gentlemen aren't afraid
of ghosts, I hope?
Then I'd like to tell you a story
while we wait for the midnight hour.
I once had a pal named Georges,
who was generally a jolly fellow.
He came from a good family
and had studied at Uppsala University,
so he knew a bit more
than the rest of us.
But a change would come over him
on New Year's Eve.
Remember that it's New Year's Eve,
the last day of the year.
Whoever dies on this eve
must drive Death's carriage.
There is an old, old carriage...
It is no ordinary driver
who holds the reins,
for he's in the service
of a strict master named Death.
For him, a single night
is as long as 100 years on Earth.
Night and day he must carry out
his master's business.
Wherever he goes, he's greeted
with sorrow and despair.
There is no escape.
He must perform his forlorn duty.
Though horse and carriage are
always the same, the driver is not.
The last soul to die each year -
the one who passes over
at the stroke of midnight -
IS destined to be Death's driver
for the following year.
Now you know why I'm afraid
of something fatal happening
to me on New Year's Eve.
And the odd thing is, you see,
that Georges apparently died
last New Year's Eve.
Why hasn't Gustavsson
arrived with David Holm?
Come with me, David Holm.
Sister Edit is dying,
and she has asked for you.
'If Sister Edit wants to see you,
you must go to her at once.
David, I can't believe it's you.
It is you who is to relieve me.
You should take me to the hospital
in your carriage as quickly as you can.
No living soul rides in that carriage.
By the time I arrive,
it's too late for a doctor.
You know full well that
I am no longer among the living.
But worst of all,
you must face the consequences
of the evil you have wrought
during your lifetime.
David, do you think I'm unaware
that it's my fault
you've met such an end?
If you hadn't fallen in with me,
you'd have led a good life
with your wife, children, and brother.
By tomorrow you will have served
your time for drunken behaviour.
But before you leave,
a harsher punishment awaits you.
Behold your brother.
While you were here,
he killed a man while intoxicated,
and now a long prison term awaits.
'But we feel that you ought
to serve the sentence in his place,
since you and you alone
led him astray and made him a killer.
Does this not make you want to turn
from your wicked ways, David Holm?
Yes. Only now
do I realise how it feels
to have brought great misery
upon a loved one.
What about your wife and children?
Now I know how miserable they've been,
but I will turn over a new leaf.
They need never despair of me again.
No, she's not ll.
She was well enough
the other day when she left.
And here I thought
I'd come home to her with such joy.
If she had gone openly,
I would have understood.
But to slink off like that, to let me
come home to an empty house -
that was heartless.
I'll wipe those smiles off your faces.
I'll find her and show her how it feels
when your heart freezes
to its very core, like mine has now.
I'll refrain from reminding you
of your search for your wife,
during which your feelings of hatred
and revenge grew ever stronger.
I will take you to a time a year ago,
to last New Year's Eve,
when you came to this town,
bringing such misfortune in your wake.
A Salvation Army station
had been set up here in town,
and it was ready for use
on New Year's Eve.
Keep your food.
I just want to sleep.
Leave it alone.
It may be full of germs,
and our sterilising oven isn't working yet.
Don't you realise, Maria,
how happy I am to help
the first guest God has sent us?
Please go to bed.
It's been a busy day.
I et me attend to this.
Dear Jesus, let our first guest
be blessed with a happy year.
All night long she bent over the coat,
never giving a thought
to the germs and filth she inhaled.
By the time she went to bed,
the icy chill of winter
had thoroughly filled the room.
Was it you who mended my coat?
Would you mind
calling the person who did this?
It's a shame you went
to all that trouble, miss,
but I'm used to having it like this.
Before you leave, I'd like to ask you
to visit me again next New Year's Eve.
You see, I prayed that our first guest
would have a good year,
and I'd like to know
if my prayer was answered.
I'll be here.
I'll come show you God didn't give
a fig for you or your twaddle.
The time has come to honour that promise
before you take over here.
From you she contracted the disease
that put her on her deathbed,
and now she awaits your visit.
You possessed all that is
most wonderful, but you lost it.
You cannot avoid the torment of remorse,
just as you cannot escape taking over
as Death's driver for a year.
Captive, come forth from thy prison.
Ye spirit that left thy body
at the stroke of midnight,
thou wilt relieve me of my office.
For a year thou wilt set souls free
from the earthly realm.
It is Death,
but he has come too soon.
You see that I'm not afraid of you.
I will gladly heed your summons,
but grant me a day's reprieve,
for there is someone
I must talk sense into.
You do not know what terrible
misfortune I have caused.
I cannot approach the Lord
until I have set it right.
The person I'm waiting for
is the man I love.
Do you understand?
The man I love.
I would grant you that reprieve
if it would avail you.
But you have
no power over this man.
Believing he was good,
you've tried to make him mend his ways,
but your hopes have been dashed
time and time again.
It was you who enticed him
away from his home and work.
You made him the drunkard he is.
Don't let yourself be dragged under.
Run along and be saved,
and I'll be sure to come watch.
Why turn away so carefully?
I'm a consumptive myself,
but I cough in people's faces
in hopes of finishing them off.
Why should they be better off than us?
He's merely amusing himself.
He's not as wicked as he pretends to be.
How can you be filled with such
bitter hatred for your fellow man?
You needn't worry about that.
'll be leaving town in a few days.
No, you mustn't do that.
I would rather you stayed
so I may challenge you again.
Tempting as that may be,
I still can't stay.
You see, little Missy,
I'm on a journey throughout Sweden
in search of someone
I must find at all costs.
Who is this person you seek?
You'll know that
when I find the person in question.
I am the one
David Holm is looking for.
I am his wife.
I couldn't endure
the life he was leading.
I deserted him.
I took my children
and crept away in secret.
I moved to this town,
for it was so far from our old home
that I never expected him
to come looking for me here.
You must take him back.
It's his only hope.
I didn't mean you must
make up your mind on the spot.
Only promise you'll listen to your heart,
and let us talk again later.
She had gotten the better of herself
and asked for none of the things
that belonged to this world.
Just come with me.
A surprise awaits
that will make you happy.
She hoped to replant in good soil
the seed that had fallen among thorns.
And she may well have succeeded
had it not been for...
The doctor says it's pneumonia.
And her resistance is poor,
for she's been in ill health
since last New Year's Eve.
Yes, that David Holm has been her undoing.
She worries so about the situation
between him and his wife,
but she mustn't know the truth.
You might at least have the heart
to refrain from infecting the children.
It wasn't so easy
to run away this time.
'Haven't you had your fill
of revenge, David?
If only I hadn't brought them
together again.
His sin would be of lesser magnitude
were it not for me.
You must grant me a reprieve.
I cannot die yet.
I must see him turn over a new leaf.
Just spare me a few minutes.
You know I love him.
I've never loved him as I do today.
Captive, ye of loving heart,
come forth from thy prison.
Come along.
We have no business here.
Those who are to receive her
will arrive shortly.
You know, David, if I could
send a message to mankind,
I would like to send them
a New Year's greeting.
I would like them to dwell
on a single New Year's prayer:
'Lord, please let my soul come
to maturity before it is reaped.
Why are we here?
Surely no one here is going to die.
No, I can't go on.
I can't go on.
I'm sorry, but I must go away,
and I cannot leave them behind.
'Please don't be angry with me.
It's not my fault.
This will do, David.
It will suffice
for the children and myself.
Yes, David, I see what's coming.
I'm obliged to watch.
I will not shirk my duty.
You mustn't let this happen.
This mustn't come to pass.
Don't let those poor,
innocent creatures die.
I have no power over the living.
Where should I turn?
Should I pray to God or to Christ?
Who can tell me
where to direct my plea?
I'm a poor, miserable sinner,
and I beseech the Lord of life and death.
I'm not worthy.
I've broken your every commandment.
Condemn me to eternal darkness.
Let nothing remain of me.
Do what you will to me, my Lord,
but spare the three of them.
David, I see that I no longer
need grieve for you.
Captive, return to thy prison.
She didn't do it yet.
I made it in time.
Sister Edit is dead.
I was at her side.
I promised her I'd become
a good husband and father.
You're lying.
Sister Maria told me
you refused to go to her.
Are you crying, David?
No one believes I want to reform.
I want to be good, but no one
believes me. Is it any wonder I cry?
It's hard to believe, David.
But I do believe you.
Your tears have convinced me.
I can't help crying too.
I won't be truly happy
until all my sorrow is drained.
Lord, please let my soul
come to maturity before it is reaped.