Born to a half-French, half-German family, Julio (Rudolph Valentino), the son of an Argentinian cattle baron, is forced to reconsider his decadent and uncommitted way of life with the advent of World War I. “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” is a continent-spanning epic that drew in a worldwide audience and was one of the first films to try its hand at the anti-war genre, as well as the anti-German sentiment at the time of its release.
The film established Rudolph Valentino has a bonafide star, giving him the nickname of the “Latin Lover,” after his famous tango sequence early on in the film, making Valentino has well known in the Hollywood as other action stars such as Douglas Fairbanks.
“The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” has a vast ranges of sets and locations, including the high-society Paris and the South American pampas, even a full scale World War I battlefield of a French village being attacked by German soldiers. The visuals truly do compete with anything that D.W. Griffith had created up to that point with “Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance” helped even further with a booming live soundtrack and orchestra.
With all that being said, “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” moves at a snail’s pace its interesting scenes are few and far between. While the visuals and color filters are impressive for the early 1920s, the story has not aged as well as one would imagine, but gets better when viewed through the time capsule of World War I. Not a great movie, but one worth checking out just for the history and attempt to make an epic that spans multiple continents in the 1920s.
Final Grade: C-