Tonight I'm doing live music for 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' (1921) at a new venue: the "Showroom," a performance space developed during the pandemic and opened recently by the Colonial Theatre in Keene, N.H.
The Colonial itself has been around since 1924, and among its other
distinctions is that it's the theater where a 7-year-old me was traumatized
by 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' when it played there in 1971.
If reasons are needed to show 'Four Horsemen,' I can name several: it's the 100th anniversary of the film's release; as a World War I epic, it's fitting for Veterans Day; it launched Rudolph Valentino as a megastar and introduced the tango worldwide; it's a terrific motion picture that shows early Hollywood at its most innovative and ambitious.
And for me, there's one personal reason that makes 'Four Horsemen' worth screening. I think the last line delivered by Nigel De Brulier's character is among the most moving in all cinema. It's not spoiling anything when I share it with you now: "I knew them all!" Watch for it, and you'll see.
So if you're in the area, please consider attending. All veterans welcome free of charge as a way to honor your service. Lots more about the film in the press release below. So march yourself on over to Keene and report for duty tonight at 7 p.m.
That's an order!
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Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • email@example.com
See the epic movie that launched Rudolph Valentino as a megastar
Veterans admitted free to WWI saga 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,' screening with live music on Thursday, Nov. 11 at Colonial Theatre's new 'Showroom' venue
'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' (1921), a multi-generational family saga that climaxes during World War I, will be screened with live music on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. the Showroom, 20 Commercial St., Keene, N.H.
The family gets drawn into World War I in far-off Europe, with members ending up on opposing sides. With brothers pitted against one another on the battlefield, the destruction of war changes lives forever.
'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' had a huge cultural impact, becoming the top-grossing film of 1921, beating out Charlie Chaplin's 'The Kid,' and going on to become the sixth-best-grossing film of the silent era.
Also, the film turned then-little-known actor Rudolph Valentino into a superstar, associating him with the image of the Latin Lover. In addition, the film inspired a tango craze and fashion fads such as gaucho pants.
Directed by Rex Ingram for Metro Pictures (a predecessor of MGM studios), 'Four Horsemen' grew into a mammoth production: over $1 million was spent in making it and more than 12,000 people were involved. The film was hugely successful at the box office, grossing nearly $5 million during its initial run, an enormous sum at the time.
The film was notable as one of the first major Hollywood productions to include World War I (then known as the 'Great War') in its storyline, and also in that it did not glorify the recent conflict or look past the tragedy that it brought. It's also among the first U.S. feature films to make full use of the unlimited visual power of the new motion picture medium.
Alan Hale Sr. appears in a supporting role; he was perhaps best known as Errol Flynn's sidekick in numerous films, his role of Little John in several Robin Hood flicks, and as the father of Alan Hale, Jr., who played the Skipper on the television series Gilligan's Island.
In 1995, the silent version of '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."
Regarding the title: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are mentioned in the Bible in chapter six of the Book of Revelation, which predicts that they will ride during the Apocalypse. The four horsemen are traditionally named War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.
"This is a big sprawling drama, and a great chance to see Rudolph Valentino in the picture that launched his celebrity," said Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who will create live music for the screening.
Rapsis will improvise live musical accompaniment during the show, using a digital synthesizer to recreate the sound of a full orchestra and other more exotic textures.
"Creating the music on the spot is a bit of a high-wire act, but it contributes a level of energy that's crucial to the silent film experience," Rapsis said.
For more information, visit www.thecolonial.org.