The Devil Came on Horseback (2007)

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Critic Consensus: The Devil Came on Horseback is both a strong primer on the complexities of the situation in Darfur and a harrowing first-person doc.

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The violence and tragedy of the genocide taking place in Darfur as seen through the eyes of an American witness. Using more than a thousand uncompromising and exclusive photographs taken by former US Marine Captain Brian Steidle during his role as a military observer with the African Union, the tragic impact of an Arab government bent on destroying its black African citizens is exposed. As an official military observer, Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could penetrate. He was unprepared for what he would witness and experience, including being fired upon, taken hostage, and being unable to intervene to save the lives of young children. 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. Haunted by what he has seen and the backlash against his advocacy efforts, Brian traveled to the refugee camps of Chad to reconnect with survivors of the violence he witnessed.

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Critic Reviews for The Devil Came on Horseback

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (19)

Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg chronicle his burgeoning activism in the face of the U.S. government's indifference as the government of Sudan works systematically to eradicate black Africans from the region.

Jan 4, 2008 | Full Review…

The gripping documentary The Devil Came on Horseback traces the change of heart that compelled Steidle to break military discipline in 2005 and offer his secret photographic evidence of Sudan's vicious ethnic cleansing to the New York Times.

Oct 12, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The Devil Came on Horseback is a documentary account of Steidle's ongoing efforts to educate the world about the violence he witnessed as an unarmed military observer for the African Union in 2004.

Oct 12, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

On all counts, the co-directors of this persuasive documentary set the right tone.

Sep 21, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A dynamic, shockingly graphic story of the horrors of Darfur.

Sep 21, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4

With an estimated 400,000 dead since 2003, and 2.5 million Sudanese left homeless in the wake of the genocide, ignoring the story doesn't seem like a humane option.

Sep 20, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4

Audience Reviews for The Devil Came on Horseback

If you already felt the devastation in Darfur was too complex to easily change, this documentary won't help. We follow a former Marine who, by a damning stroke of fate, found himself with the duty to document each case of genocide. Captain Steidle, raised in a strong military family, came in as a former Marine who had seen his share of combat. He's the only American who witnessed, for 6 months, the merciless violence. It has broken him, and in one scene we see him grieving, overwhelmed by his powerlessness to stop, even just once, what he had seen. After we see him testify to us through the media and meet with our leaders, it seems by the film's end that everyone is powerless, and we all just have to watch it.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

½

An excellent, well-shot, and cautious documentary which has some truly shocking, and heart-wrenching, moments. It speaks powerfully not only about its own subject, but the conspicuous and utterly horrifying lack of attention it was given, all seen through intensely personal moments. Easy to comprehend, but daunting to fully understand, this documentary has no answers, only emotions and images... and that is what makes it powerful. Like him, we are forced to sit and watch helplessly by the sidelines, and we can easily understand his frustration and pain.

Daniel Hetteix
Daniel Hetteix

Super Reviewer

if you want to know more about the situation in darfur this is a great place to start. told by a former marine who volunteered as an unarmed observer in sudan and witnessed all out genocide by the government backed janjaweed militia. it's as if we had the chance to redeem ourselves for rwanda and failed yet again. total respect to brian steidle who fought to get this story out and wake up the world to another ethnic cleansing. this is a horrific and very important film. if you want to see the face of evil, welcome to hell

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"The Devil Came on Horseback" is a powerfully damning documentary about Brian Steidle, a retired U.S. Marine Captain, who in 2004 signed up to monitor the ceasefire of the 20-year civil war in Sudan between the Arab north and the Christian and Animist south. The Arabs have most of the power in the country, while the people of the western Darfur region who are represented by two rebel groups wanted a role in governing their country. Following a rebel attack, the Janjaweed militia aided by the government initiated a genocide in Darfur which was intent on wiping out all the black Africans in the region. Steidle volunteered to monitor the situation armed with only a camera and a notepad. [/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]The film puts the atrocities in Sudan in focus while also perfectly capturing Steidle's frustration at not being able to help actively. But his photographs which are eventually published do shed light on these atrocities.(His camera accomplishes much more than a gun ever could.) Even then, the world mostly stood by and watched. Also, there is a very keen sense of how Steidle's life, as an accidental activist, has changed since he had been given a mission.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]What is needed in the world today is a change in the priorities of foreign policy away from one of political convenience and profit(Sudan is rich in oil) to one favoring human rights. We are all one people on this planet, and are deeply responsible for each other. In general, the world needs to embrace love instead of fear.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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