Phantom is the first movie presented this month under the direction of one of Germany’s Expressionism movement exponents, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. With a screenplay written by Thea von Harbou (Fritz Lang’s wife at the time), the film is a visual delight. Phantom is a characteristic piece of its genre, which can be described as a period of excentric set stylization, innovative use of camera and lighting.
This is a story that presents us the hallucinations experienced by an impoverished dreamer and artist, Lorenz Lubota (Alfred Abel) after he comes under the spell of the gold-digger Mellitta (Lya De Putti). There is a fatalistic mood that describes and is in tune with the most influential productions of the time. Murnau designed through this movie a magical atmosphere on the screen that blends setting and character. Lorenz Lubota, taken over by his infatuation with Mellitta, recreats his fantastic apparition of the dreamed woman again and again. This motif is called ‘Doppelgänger’ (‘Double Walker’), a hallucinant and obsessive image, and it is a persistent element in the German silent cinema (correlating Freudian logic with visual elements), following the tradition of German romantic literature.