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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

Passed | | Drama, Romance, War | April 1921 (Canada)
An extended family split up in France and Germany find themselves on opposing sides of the battlefield during World War I.


Rex Ingram


Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (novel) (as Vicente Blasco Ibañez), June Mathis (written for the screen by)
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Pomeroy Cannon Pomeroy Cannon ... Madariaga
Josef Swickard ... Marcelo Desnoyers
Bridgetta Clark Bridgetta Clark ... Doña Luisa
Rudolph Valentino ... Julio Desnoyers
Virginia Warwick Virginia Warwick ... Chichí
Alan Hale ... Karl von Hartrott
Mabel Van Buren ... Elena
Stuart Holmes ... Otto von Hartrott
John St. Polis ... Etienne Laurier (as John Sainpolis)
Alice Terry ... Marguerite Laurier
Mark Fenton Mark Fenton ... Senator Lacour
Derek Ghent Derek Ghent ... René Lacour (as Derrick Ghent)
Nigel De Brulier ... Tchernoff (as Nigel de Brulier)
Bowditch M. Turner Bowditch M. Turner ... Argensola (as Brodwitch Turner)
Edward Connelly ... Lodgekeeper


Julio Madariaga is the Argentine patriarch of a wealthy family. He has two daughters, the elder wed to a Frenchman and the other to a German. He prefers the Frenchman and his family, especially his grandson Julio, causing jealousy from the German and his three sons. When Madariaga dies, the family splits up, each son-in-law returning to his own country. The Frenchman and his own move to Paris, where Julio becomes an artist and has an affair with an unhappily married woman, the lovely Marguerite Laurier. Her husband finds out, but before he can finalize a divorce, World War One rears its head and both sides of the family will endure great suffering in the conflict, especially since they must fight one another on the battlefield. Written by cupcakes

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He painted Paris red! See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Early on one of the intertitles says, "Von Hartrott had reared his sons to respect the teachings of his Fatherland". The picture behind the text is of the statue of Kaiser Wilhelm II on the Deutshes Eck at Koblenz, the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The statue was destroyed by the Americans in 1945, but subsequently replaced in the nineties. See more »


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


[first lines]
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 of the Seven Seals of Prophecy to start a mighty conflagration.
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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. See more »


Featured in Hugo (2011) See more »


Apocalypse Theme
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
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User Reviews

A shame it's not better known
1 June 2005 | by poccaSee all my reviews

Rudolph Valentino's breakthrough role as Julio is in some ways his best, and it's a shame that this film isn't better known to day--it has yet to be released on DVD. (Is its being relatively unknown due to its being set during World War One, a war that was soon to be eclipsed by an even worse conflict?)

The story begins in Argentina on the plantation of the slightly grotesque but fascinating Madrigal the Centaur who, with the cruel partiality of Tennessee Williams' Big Daddy, openly favours his half French grandchildren to his half German ones (referring to them as "glass-eyed carrot topped sharks"). A few years later we see him carousing with his grandson Julio, the latter in full gaucho regalia, in a disreputable café (the setting of the rightfully famous tango sequence and where Valentino treats his female partner with that distinctive mixture of suaveness and brutality that characterized many of his later roles). The Great War intrudes on everyone's lives and both families, even though they have made their home in the new world feel drawn to take sides. With regard to the conflict itself, the film takes a anti-war if not entirely neutral stance (the French are generally honourable whereas the Germans behave like, well, sharks).

A large part of the film is devoted to the decline in fortunes of Madrigal's French son-in-law after he returns to France with his family, but the most memorable portions of this part of the film are Julio's wooing of Marguerite, the unhappy wife of a much older man and Julio's reluctant entry into the war. Initially he continues his wastrel life in Paris as an artist of sorts, as indifferent as Rhett Butler to the war around him, but eventually he finds himself drawn into the conflict, not because he is anymore convinced that the war is for a good cause as that, with the casualties mounting up every day, he simply feels too ashamed to continue living his soft life as a lounge lizard. The ending relies heavily on Dickensian coincidence but is devastating nonetheless.

A few quibbles—the stranger who appears occasionally to share his dire forebodings is not quite as annoying as the preachy meddler in Blood and Sand but is still somewhat intrusive. (On the other hand I liked the imagery of the four horsemen which was all the more effective for being used sparingly and must have been particularly impressive on the big screen). Also, the film contains an extremely cringe-inducing example of comic relief—Julio's mother, to cheer up her son in the trenches, sends him his monkey in a miniature soldier's uniform, complete with helmet, bringing to this modern viewer's mind Precious, the gin-swilling orangutan nurse of the whacked out NBC soap opera, Passions. However, these are minor objections and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is one of the best films of the silent era.

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Release Date:

April 1921 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse See more »


Box Office


$800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print) (1993 restored)

Sound Mix:



Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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