The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Romance, War


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) Poster

An extended family split up in France and Germany find themselves on opposing sides of the battlefield during World War I.


7.2/10
3,065

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Awards

1 win.

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


19 May 2009 | Lichtmesz23
7
| Stereotyped portrayal of Germans blurs anti-war-message
This is surely a visually magnificent film to watch, especially if you get to see a copy of the tinted Photoplay restoration with a great score by Carl Davis.

It strikes me however that few commentators here seem to bother about the very nasty portrayal of German people in this film. Despite its claims for universality, condemning WWI in general and not just a single nation (or class for that matter) involved in it, the image of the Germans is no different from the wartime propaganda huns as portrayed by Erich von Stroheim and others. They appear as arrogant, cold, ugly, brutal, grotesque, greedy, militaristic idiots, who even in peacetime in a civilian/family setting march in line and click their heels all the time. Julio's three cousins are portrayed as bespectacled, mischievously grinning jerks who obey their father's commands as if he was an army officer, even as children. They are even shown reading Nietzsche's Zarathustra and it's appraisals of the warrior man as if it was some kind of a bible. A race of villainous, natural born warmongers, it seems. Now this can hardly be the basis for an honest anti-war-movie. Compare this portrayal to the very different, more human and sympathetic image of German people in John Ford's FOUR SONS and of course ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Despite the now-campiness of these scenes in question I find them still quite offensive and hard to watch, even given that most silent movies made heavy use of strong contrasts and stereotyping. I guess in 1920 the anti-German resentments in the US were still very strong, which even caused D. W. Griffith to absurdly switch a German refugee family in post-war Berlin into a polish refugee family in ISN'T LIFE WONDERFUL - as late as 1924!

All this shift from anti-war-intentions to merely anti-German clichés somewhat betrays the "message" of the movie, which admittedly comes across quite rhetorical and pretentious in the first place, and is indeed one of the movie's weakest and most dated points. It just seems to be tagged onto the Valentino adultery romance story for mere dramatic effect (as in the vision of the Apocalyptic Horsemen and the final graveyard scene). But overall the war theme doesn't really stand in the center of the movie.

Critic Reviews


Did You Know?

Trivia

Rudolph Valentino signed onto the film for $350 a week, less than Wallace Beery earned for his small role as a German officer. Metro provided Valentino only with his Argentine gaucho costume and his French soldier's uniform. For the Parisian sequence Valentino purchased more than 25 custom-fitted suits from a New York tailor, which he spent the next year paying for.


Quotes

Title Card: In a world old in hatred and bloodshed, where nation is crowded against nation and creed against creed, centuries of wars have sown their bitter seed, and the fires of resentment smouldering beneath the crust of civilization but await the breaking ...


Goofs

The same shot of a cat clawing at a small poodle while sitting on top of a piano is used two different times.


Alternate Versions

In 1993 Turner Entertainment in association with Britain's Channel Four distributed a full restoration by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill's Photoplay Productions. The restoration includes many scenes that had been deleted or thought missing since the film's premiere, including original tinting and a single shot of a brief Prizma Color sequence that had been in the original release. The restored film is accompanied by a new original score composed and conducted by Carl Davis.


Soundtracks

Apocalypse Theme
(1993)
Music by
Carl Davis
Based on the Fantasia Sonata "Après une lecture du Dante" by Franz Liszt (1849)
Performed by Orchestre Symphonique de Radio-Télé Luxembourg (as Symphony Orchestra of Radio-Télé Luxembourg) lead by Philippe Koch
In the score of the 1993 restored version

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | Romance | War

Box Office

Budget:

$800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,183,673

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,183,673

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