Tim Brayton on Rex Ingram’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”

“Even as an anti-war film, [The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse] has a certain reputation that it doesn’t earn. There’s still a tang of heaving melodrama to the proceedings, particularly as concerns the German characters; so soon after the war, the German people were still viewed as outright villains of the worst sort by the Americans, and regardless of whether this was an appropriate attitude or not (the history of 1934-’45 would tend to suggest, to me, that a modicum of forgiveness couldn’t have hurt), it harms the film’s polemic. Basically, the message doesn’t play as “war is a brutal hell that crushes goodness and breeds suffering”, but “war is brutal, but it was necessary to beat down the Germanic hordes and it was profoundly noble of those who fought them”. It’s not my place, in 2014, to say if that was the wrong attitude to hold in 1921. But it surely doesn’t support the idea that this is a significantly anti-war work of art.” Tim Brayton on the anti-war reputation of Ingram’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

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