The first anti-war film ever made, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is an interesting film to see. Following a young man from Argentina who moves to France with his family, he becomes a philanderer and courts married women. He spends too much money, has too much sex, and drinks too much booze, but he is still a sympathetic character. This might be because this young man was played by Rudolph Valentino in his first break out role. He flashes a smile, holds a young woman just so and dances the tango with such finesse that it is hard to not fall in love with him. I have written about him previously, but I think he is a fascinating figure to go back to again and again. He brings a lightness to such heavy material that it makes the film actually watchable.
A tumultuous affair with one of his father’s friends, forces this young man to go to war in order to get away from the heat. This is where the film feels bogged down. It switches from the small story of this family struggling to gain the fortune of the patriarch in Argentina, failing and moving to France, and then becoming debaucheries into an epic film with Biblical allegories and big set pieces. It feels heavy-handed to say the least, but can’t that be said about a lot of overtly anti-war films?
Watch this film for Rudolph Valentino dancing the tango (a craze he made popular in the twenties and what earned him the nickname of the Latin Lover) and romancing across the countries. Also watch the film for one scene that showcases German excess: it involves men dressed up as women also one of the earliest instances of this committed to film.