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The Devil Came On Horseback

4.5 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An up-close, honest, and uncompromising look at the crisis in Darfur, THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK exposes the ongoing tragedy in Sudan as seen through the eyes of one American witness.

Using the exclusive photographs and first hand testimony of former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle, the film goes on an emotionally charged journey into the heart of Darfur, Sudan, where in 2004, Steidle became witness to a genocide that to-date has claimed over 400,000 lives. As an official military observer, Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could penetrate. Unprepared for what he would witness and experience, Steidle returned to the U.S. armed with his photographs, intent on exposing the images and stories of lives systematically destroyed.

A 2007 world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, this astonishingly propulsive and dramatic film from award-winning filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Trials of Darryl Hunt), is a heartfelt account of what this particular American witness saw and, just as important, what he did afterward.

DVD Features: Bonus Short Film: Supporting Survivors; Take Action Save Darfur: How to Help


The Devil Came on Horseback presents a first-person account of the genocide in Darfur. Former Marine Captain Brian Steidle joined the African Union in 2004 to help monitor the cease-fire in Sudan. As he puts it, "All I had was a camera, a pen, and paper. I was totally unprepared for what I'd see." An unarmed military civilian, he describes his observations, via voice-over and audio recordings, as filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern alternate between their contemporary footage and his images of slaughtered civilians and incinerated villages. When his contract ends, Steidle leaves in disillusionment. He wrote his reports and took his pictures, but nothing changed. Since reporters lacked the same degree of access, he goes to The New York Times, and they publish his photographs. The soldier-turned-activist proceeds to spread the word everywhere he can. Aside from Steidle, the film features his sister Gretchen Wallace, founder of Global Grassroots (an organization working with female victims in Sudan and Rwanda), and Senator Barack Obama, who has also made Darfur his personal mission. The title comes from a loose translation of janjaweed, the government-backed Arab militias behind the atrocities to which Steidle bore witness. (Steidle and his sister use the same title for the book they wrote together.) As in their previous documentary, The Trials of Darryl Hunt, Sundberg and Stern maintain a measured tone, but their subject's horrifying images speak for themselves. The Devil Came on Horseback is accompanied by Wallace's Supporting Survivors, a short film about Global Grassroots. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Bonus short film: Supporting Survivors by Global Grassroots
  • Take Action Save Darfu

Product Details

  • Actors: Brian Steidle
  • Directors: Annie Sundberg, Ricki Stern
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: October 30, 2007
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000UUX2UK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,843 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Devil Came On Horseback" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I just saw this movie at Webster University in St. Louis and can't believe it is not playing in mainstream theaters across the country. It is a well crafted documentary that deserves wide spread availability.

This film is Brian's photographs, video, audio recordings, and emails from his time in Sudan as an investigator in the cease fire agreement and his return visit to Chad. The images in the film are nothing short of shocking, graphic and deeply disturbing on a level I never knew existed. If you think you "know" about the situation in Darfur, you haven't seen anything until you sit through 85 minutes of systematic genocide, rape, torture, and mutilation.

This film is Brian's personal account of the atrocities of the Sudanese government (whom is Arab), and its calculated genocide toward the black Africans within its borders. It even goes after those that have fled to neighboring Chad.

But it isn't just Brian showing you a picture and saying 'See, bad things are happening here.' He explains the recent historical highlights of Sudan and its government, the presence of China and its oil pipeline, the Russian and Chinese supplied weapons, the Janjaweed's relation to the government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement, and other players. You get to see the reaction he received upon his return to America: how the State Department asked him NOT to show his pictures (!); how the Sudanese government sent out people to speak against him; how the New York Times helped give him a voice and get his pictures out to the public.

Excellent production, editing and camera work. I would have liked to have heard some of the politicians speak on the topic.
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Format: DVD
We shared this video during this past summer preview (2007) for the Rochester, MN community. I am thrilled to see it out for mass distribution. For every family with kids (and especially with College Students) I recommend this video as a gift. Make it a gift you give to every student who is deciding what to do with their life after graduation or still "undecided" in their major. For a family, the film can be a bit graphic with war death (but death is only shown in still photography so it is not that shocking to children). But we can no longer afford to shield children from the truth.

When we showed it to our community we packed out the auditorium and over the weeks that followed people chose from about 7 different ways to get involved in Darfur including water wells, building schools, solar ovens and thousands upon thousands of dollars for use by the foundations and NGOs in Darfur. The intriguing part of the film is the author's wisdom about dealing with "post-genocide" and to explore this issue the author and his sister traveled to Rwanda to discover how to help a country and people groups when the war has ended.

This year is an award winning year for video production. I would recommend to Amazon and any family to buy two videos this year and to watch them with neighbors, friends, co-workers, church friends, and more. The videos would be "The Devil Came on Horseback" and "Amazing Grace: The Story of William Wilberforce." This is a set of videos to sit with your kids, to watch and to discuss. America has enough doctors, lawyers, aid workers and more...challenge your kids to study and learn and to give their life overseas.
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Format: DVD
I didn't know very much about the genocide in Darfur until I saw this movie. It changed my life.

The film follows the sedate and kind Brian Steidle as he documented the atrocities done by the Sudanese government to the ethnic African Sudanese. I was so moved by Brian's determination to bring this issue to the American consiousness, his sense of guilt for not preventing the genocide (when he had the "chance" to eliminate a Janjaweed caravan in the beginning), and the Sudanese people who are so grateful for what Americans are doing for them.

It is an excellent film: shot well, includes lots of facts, statistics, and interviews with the Sudanese refugees and Janjaweed members, and features first-hand photos that Brian took. I can't wait to receive my copy and share this issue with everyone I know.
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Format: DVD

In the early 2000s, a cease fire was declared between two warring factions in Sudan (the Arab Muslims in the north and the non-Arabs in the south), effectively bringing to an end the bloody civil war that had ripped that nation apart for over two decades (though the peace treaty itself was not officially signed until 2005). Former Marine Captain Brian Steidle went to the country as part of a team sponsored by the African Union to help monitor the cease fire. However, while he was there, a new conflict broke out, this time in Darfur, the far western region of Sudan that is largely inhabited by tribal blacks. As soon as the cease fire was in place, militias and death squads, backed by the Arab government in Khartoum, began a well-coordinated and systematic campaign to brutally terrorize and slaughter the inhabitants of that region. Whole villages and refugee camps were wiped out, their people mowed down, burned alive or left to die of starvation, all for being black. Steidle - sans weapons and armed only with a still camera, a video recorder, a great deal of personal courage and a spirit of righteous indignation - spent much of that time traveling through the countryside compiling a photographic account of the atrocities. "The Devil Came on Horseback" is that account.

With this work, filmmakers Ricki Stren and Anne Sundberg clearly hope to rouse the outside world from its lethargy regarding this tragedy. Steidle's heartbreaking and compelling eyewitness testimony to Man's-inhumanity-to-Man is placed in direct opposition to the lip-service platitudes and hollow assurances he receives from the fiddle-playing leaders in the Bush administration and the U.N. when he confronts them with the evidence.
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