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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) Edited


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a 1921 American silent war film based on Vicente Blasco Ibanez’s popular novel of the same name.

After his wealthy grandfather dies, the young tango hero Julio Desnoyers and his half-French, half-German family move back to Europe, where their lives are upended by the start of World War I.

Rudolph Valentino
Alice Terry
Josef Swickard

Directed by:
Rex Ingram

Adapted for the screen by:
June Mathis

Produced by:
Metro Pictures Corporation

Running time:
134 minutes

Like Star Wars, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. It was the only silent film included in Martin Scorsese’s list of “85 films you need to see to know anything about film”.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free on the Internet Archive, but I am working with the Turner Classic Movies restoration done by Photoplay Productions. Carl Davis composed the score.

My purpose in doing this new edit was to improve the pacing and tempo of the film in order to make it more accessible to modern audiences. Some scenes needed to be cut in order to accomplish that more dynamic feel. In addition, while the quality of filmmaking was exceptionally high, there were a few scenes where I felt dramatic cues were missed, and sequences in which shots didn’t flow quite right, so I wanted to fix those as well.

I’d like to get into film editing, and hope to use this as a demo in the future.

Here is my edited upload of Act I:

And here is the original for comparison:


Complete list of changes for Act I:

-Most of the opening credits were cut and moved to the end of the film.

-I rearranged several shots during the sequence in and around Julio’s birth:

  1. The shot where Karl is standing alone was recut and sped up very slightly to fit the timeline
  2. The title card introducing the Frenchman Marcelo was slowed down. It wasn’t readable before
  3. The shot of Marcelo taking the swaddling cloth was slowed down to fit the timeline
  4. Cut to: closeup of Marcelo was inserted to improve the flow of the sequence
  5. “I need one of my own breed” title card was slowed down. It wasn’t readable before
  6. The closeup of Marcelo was cut from this part and inserted into the earlier part I mentioned

I’m not sure if that list is exhaustive or not. I did quite a few rearrangements during that sequence.

-The title card and music introducing the Boca quarter of Buenos Aires was cut. I feel like all of that pointlessly slowed down the film and preferred an immediate cut to the famous tango sequence.

-The title card introducing Luisa, Madariaga’s elder daughter and Julio’s mom, was slowed down. It wasn’t readable before.
-The shot of her that immediately follows was recut, in order to fit the timeline.

-The next shot of Chichi dancing was also recut for the same reason.

-The title card for Madariaga’s will was slowed down to make it readable. As you can see, some title cards in the TCM presentation just barely flashed on screen.

-The following shot of the family was recut to fit the timeline.

Some of these edits were technical fixes to the poor title card presentations done by TCM, but the ones I worked on the most focused on improving the flow and pace of the film. Especially for a modern audience trying to watch a silent picture, I thought it was really important to not test anyone’s attention span, and get into the movie as fast as possible. That’s why I cut the interminably long opening credits and moved them to the back of the film. The Boca quarter title card was just another unnecessary stoppage that slowed the film down in its tracks, and I think it’s an improvement to keep the dramatic narrative going in the way that I did.

Unquestionably the most novel edits I created were those in the sequence surrounding Julio’s birth. I found the original cut to be quite jarring–I don’t think it flowed very well in comparison to the sequence that I recreated.

I’m currently working on the much more difficult Part 2 now.


There hasn’t been too much interest expressed, but I would like to see this when you finish, it sounds interesting, and I do like watching silent movies on occasion.

I decided to add a signature


Thanks robert. This one is definitely one of the best silent pictures ever made. Just needed to be edited down a little but I hope you’ll like it. Check back here for updates and I do expect to have it completed this winter.