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The Devil Came on Horseback (2007)

A documentary that exposes the genocide raging in Darfur, Sudan as seen through the eyes of a former U.S. marine who returns home to make the story public.


, (as Annie Sundberg)


(as Annie Sundberg),

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Credited cast:
Nicholas Kristof ...
Himself - Columnist, New York Times
Brian Steidle ...


The tragedy taking place in Darfur as seen through the eyes of an American witness and who has since returned to the US to take action to stop it. Uses the photographs and first hand testimony of former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle to take the viewer on a journey into the heart of Darfur, Sudan, where an Arab run government is systematically executing a plan to rid the province of its black African citizens. As an official military observer, Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could penetrate. Ultimately frustrated by the inaction of the international community, Steidle resigned and returned to the US to expose the images and stories of lives systematically destroyed. We witness Steidle's transformation from soldier to observer to witness and, finally, to passionate activist and moral hero. Written by International Film Circuit

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A witness to evil. A force for peace. An unbelievable true story. See more »



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Release Date:

11 April 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Die Todesreiter von Darfur  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$11,143 (USA) (27 July 2007)


$132,309 (USA) (30 November 2007)

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User Reviews

Best documentary on Darfur so far
30 April 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The most important aspect about The Devil Came on Horseback is its images, simply for the unfortunate fact that no one, really, has seen anything properly documenting the brutality going on over there. There's been sporadic text every now and then, and even a picture or two; but, by and large, the waves in the press about Darfur are merely ankle busters compared to this film's tsunami of pictorials and video, displaying the absolute horror of that region of Sudan.

The film follows Brian Steidle, a man who's entire career has been military-based. He served as a USMC captain and when he would no longer see combat, he left the military and accepted a contract position in Sudan with the Joint Military Commission, where he would be an integral part of the North-South ceasefire, rising the ranks from a team leader to senior operations officer. After seven months, he was invited to Darfur, where he would serve as an unarmed military observer and American representative for the African Union in that region. This film documents his findings as an observer.

What he found was systematic ethnic-cleansing genocide. The Sudanese government was not only enabling the mass extinction of its citizens, it was controlling it. The "devil" in the title of the film are the Janjaweed, nomadic black-Arab militia groups who massacre entire villages, by exterminating its non-Arab black African inhabitants and literally burn the tribes' homes to the ground. They are "paid" in plunder and are notorious for raping their female victims, castrating their male victims and torturing them all.

The Janjaweed have been more adequately equipped and become a far greater threat since non-Arab groups, the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, have risen up against the Sudanese government, for its mistreatment of its people. Although the government of Sudan has repeatedly denied any assistance to these barbarous raiding bandits, this film has been a breakthrough of evidence, showing quite clearly the government's involvement.

To really understand this film, however, is to understand its tragedy. No one is really doing anything about this. Even after Steidle came back and lobbied before congress in an effort to call the United States to action, his plethora of images and video were dismissed as nothing more than inconvenient casualties in another state-sponsored genocide that we're unwilling to involve ourselves in. Sure, they were acknowledged and Colin Powell called it what it was--a "genocide"--but there's still over 450,000 dead and counting, and 2.5 million displaced.

I could describe to you the images I saw--the maiming and killing of men, women and children; their eyes gouged out and their bodies burned, castrated and mutilated--and how I reacted, emotionally with tears of hopelessness and regret, when I saw this film. But instead, I think it far more powerful for you to go see this film for yourself. Then perhaps you'll want to take action and help let our government know that you want it to take active involvement in stopping this nightmare. It's not enough to talk about it and acknowledge that it's happening--we need to take active measures in preventing the perpetuation of these government sanctioned massacres.

Remember, just as you've read this review in the comfort of your own home or office or wherever, the killing in Sudan continues. And it won't stop until every last one of the non-Arab black Africans are dead, or when, and if, someone steps in and takes appropriate action to stop it.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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