Also known as Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness, The Phantom Chariot was the most famous of Swedish director Victor Sjöstrom's pre-Hollywood films. Based on a novel by Selma Lagerlöf, the film is predicated on an ancient Scandanavian legend.
It is said that each year, on St. Sylvester's Night (New Year's Eve), a phantom chariot materializes to carry off the souls of those who have sinned. On one such occasion, David Holm (played by Sjöstrom) is forced to recall his past misdeeds, especially his brutal treatment of his wife.
Holm's only hope for salvation lies in his performing a spectacular act of selflessness. As the chariot approaches, Holm despairs: how can he possibly be redeemed before the clock strikes twelve? Sjöstrom's masterful direction is superbly complemented by Julius Jaenzon's multi-exposure cinematography.
When artists like Victor Sjöstrom and Mauritz Stiller were lured away by Hollywood, their exodus very nearly brought the wrath of The Phantom Chariot on the entire Swedish film industry.