During World War I, Erich von Stroheim wasn't the only "man you loved to hate." Rupert Julian also proved pretty hateful as the title character in this picture, which he also directed. It's pure, black-and-white propaganda, with every German general a "von-something" and the Kaiser as evil as they come. Contrasted against these dark forces is the story of a modest Belgian family -- Marcas, the blacksmith (Elma Lincoln, his daughter Gabrielle (Ruth Clifford) and his young sons -- who find themselves at the mercy of history and the Germans. Although the Armistice wouldn't happen until eight months after this picture was released, Julian came up with a patriotically appropriate end to the war -- the Allies win and hand the Kaiser over to the Belgian people as a prisoner. Incidentally, a few years later, Julian and von Stroheim would have something else in common besides their portrayals of evil Huns -- in 1922, when director von Stroheim was fired from The Merry-Go-Round, Universal would hire Julian to take his place.
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