7.8/10
1,497
14 user 43 critic

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.

Directors:

Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg (as Annie Sundberg)

Writers:

Anne Sundberg (as Annie Sundberg), Ricki Stern

On Disc

at Amazon

5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Documentary

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA | Sudan

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

11 April 2008 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Darfour, le diable arrive à cheval See more »

Filming Locations:

Sudan See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,143, 29 July 2007

Gross USA:

$132,782

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$134,495
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Break Thru Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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User Reviews

The shocking material saves the film from the weaknesses in the delivery and structure
5 May 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When he finished in the field with the US Marines, Captain Brian Steidle turns away from a desk job on his way up the ranks and instead takes a job as a military observer of the ceasefire in Sudan. The access he is able to have within the country ultimately leads him to be in no doubt that he is seeing Government-backed genocide against the African citizens of Darfur. With no weapon but his reports and his photographs, Steidle charts all that he sees in villages razed to the ground. This film charts his growing frustration at the lack of movement that this approach seems to create.

Normally I would criticise those who praise a film for its subject rather than judge it on the basis of the film itself. Normally this film would be one of those and on these terms I would not be as kind to it as it really deserves. The reasons for this are clear from watching the film because really it could have been better structured and delivered. I thought the film would use Steidle as a device to explore the subject but somehow it tends to make him the subject too many times for my liking. This is a niggling irritation and it is not helped that the delivery of the subject is structured around his experiences – which is not always the most effective way of doing it because it does not build the case in the manner that would be most impacting and informative.

Having said that though, it is difficult to watch the film and not be moved and sickened because of the subject and because most viewers will have seen so little of what is happening in Darfur. The photographs are disturbing and graphic. Whether it be charred remains or humans with eyes gouged out, it is not easy to sit and watch without reaction. The lack of intervention is also difficult to watch and this is the one aspect that the focus on Steidle contributes to well because he feels the frustration firsthand.

Overall then this is a compelling and sickening film but it is nearly despite the film, not because of it. The structure is not strong enough and the focus on Steidle distracts and detracts as much as it adds – it should have used him more as a way in rather than the centrepiece of the film but these are minor complaints versus the shocking truths that the film puts in front of us. The images are sickening, so is the lack of action and the exposure the film gives to the subject is worthy of praise and makes this worth seeing even if it could have been better.


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