Ride with the Devil
During the Civil War, young men from Missouri join the Bushwhackers, irregulars loyal to the South set on revenge. As friends die they must decide where honor lies.
© 1999 Universal City Studios Productions, Inc. All rights Reserved
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Even if this isn't the best Civil War film ever made, it's one of the most interesting and least dogmatic.
The film is less than the sum of its parts.
The Lawrence massacre provides no catharsis, only a sense of despair at the state of the human condition and at young men turned psychopaths.
A sublime contemplation of the American character at a particularly revealing time in our struggle to become a nation.
Given the flat performances and Schamus's overexplanatory script, Ride With the Devil has the feel of undergraduate costume drama.
From a technical perspective, Ride With the Devil is nearly perfect.
the main characters, despite their various complexities, are never particularly compelling and therefore fail to draw us into (or help us make sense of) the film's abstract themes
The cast is attractive and proficient at handling the fancy dialogue the filmmakers offer up as period vernacular.
Lee appears to have been torn between making a character study and an action movie, so both elements get short shrift.
This isn't the usual Civil War tale of learning to respect a man regardless of his race.... It's about how true freedom comes from love, from respect, and from self-sacrifice.
Politically astute, visually breathtaking but emotionally inert.
Oddly distant and uninvolving for such a blazing subject.
Lee is a master storyteller.
Lee and his team bring the period and place to life brilliantly, in its every frontier main street, homely speech pattern, and burnt gunpowder fog.
'It ain't right; it ain't wrong; it just is.' That line, in a nutshell, pretty much sums up Ride with the Devil.
Ang Lee is amazing.
An impressive cast energizes Lee's smartly balanced themes of innocence and treachery.
Sustains a standard of realism that can induce extraordinary tension.
The intriguing (if not always successful) result is an oddly contemplative picture about a horribly bellicose time.
A film that would inspire useful discussion in a history class, but for ordinary moviegoers, it's slow and forbidding.
Bucolic scenes of men at rest in beautiful wild landscapes and families gathered over meals in manors and homesteads are shattered by battles...
Visually arresting but dramatically flat.
Something to watch
Lee can take on any period, any place and any genre. He is a master filmmaker who not only slips silently into his role but also offers films with a different edge to their counterparts. Ride With the Devil is one of the most under appreciated films ever made. It is a gem of a film. On its western/civil war merits it has fast paced well edited shoot outs with hard hitting violence worthy of Peckinpah. The characterisation is excellently handled especially from Jeffry Wright who doesn't play your average black man in a civil war movie as he "sides" with those who are against his freedom. It's a complex affectionate role, which you have to see to understand his loyalties and platonic love for another man. It was this role that supposedly killed this film at the box-office as many found it hard to accept. This is also supposedly why Wright doesn't appear on any DVD covers or posters despite being a main character. It's sad that such an excellent tale that tried something different was killed because of it. As well as those exciting shoot outs and horseback chases are more human moments such as Maguires readings of others letters. His "army" just wants to hear what is written though not addressed to any of them. Each character takes something a bit different from such a quiet moment. Beautifully crafted but as always with Lee very accessible.
Interesting idea with good cast but somewhat dull.
I'm a big Any Lee fan, so I was curious to see his venture into the Western genre. Ride With The Devil is a great movie, with authentic dialogue, strong performances, and impressive camera work.
Great period costuming and dialog! But, the plot left much to be desired. Tobey, Skeet and even Jewel did the best they could, given what they had to work with.
This movie is great for several reasons. The characters and the lines that they have are fantastic. It tells a story that hasn't really ever been told. One of those small stories in a big story. Johnathan brandis' best work was in this film(rip). It is simply about that madness of the world snatching up everyone around it, no matter who they are.
I caught this on cable. It caught my eye, since it had Tobey McGuire in it. It was a pretty good Civil War era film.
This is a great fil from the side most people know nothing about. I would love to see the directors cut. Terrably underated and more accurate than most films about the war between the states.
it was a good movie, but I couldn't pay much attention to that fact because I was distracted by how much of a tramp jewel's character was
wow--did not think i'd enjoy it as much as i did! fantastic performances---love tobey maguire... and jonathan rhys meyers as a b.a.? sweet
A beautiful character study with jolts of great action, Tobey Maguire's best performance and a great supporting cast.
Very interesting film which focuses on the American civil war but the Southern Confederate side as opposed to the more regular viewed Northern Union side. Its all based on fact (a book also) and the real leadership of 'Quantrill's' fighters in 1861, loosely depicting events of that time. Its also quite unusual as its directed by Ang Lee who's films have been admittedly diverse in range but you wouldn't expect this kind of theme from him. The cast in this film is what impressed me the most really, Maguire, Ulrich, Wright and Rhys-Meyers stand out from the crowd but all perform well plus they all look great in their costumes, think of a cross between 'Interview with the Vampire' and 'Colonel Sanders' :) with their long flowing hair and thin sharp facial hair. I liked how the guerrilla's were dressed with their dandy outfits and feathered hats also, unsure if that's how they really looked but its different and visually striking. Location work looks great, filmed in Missouri with plenty of beautiful woodlands and some authentic sets as you would expect in a major western. Not allot of action in the film, only the real event of the Lawrence Massacre is all you get which is decent but not a classic historic movie moment. For a war film (of sorts) its more about the relationship between friends amidst the battles really, not overly epic and emotional as you might expect which isn't a bad thing but with a long run time some may get turned off.
Every great director has one or two misfires. The Civil War drama "Ride With the Devil" is Ang Lee's, and it's a doozy. The photography is gorgeous at times; it captures the panoramic majesty of the American countryside. But everything else falls flat. The story is dull, the casting is spectacularly off, the actors were coached unbelievably badly, the editing is flaccid, the music is pedestrian, and the costumes and hair are downright laughable. Lee gives almost all the young male characters very long hair, making them look like girls. It's quite silly. Lee took a lot of risks with this film. He did not want to make a standard Western. This courage is admirable, but his judgment goes wrong at almost every turn. Chief among the disasters is the casting of Tobey Maguire in the lead role. I've never been a big fan of Maguire. His range is among the smallest of any big-name actor in American cinema today. All he seems capable of portraying is gentle, doe-eyed boys. His voice is so soft and high that you wonder if he ever experienced puberty. I like the idea of trying to build a Western around a girl-like male character. On paper it sounds interesting and innovative. But Lee was not able to make it work at all. His direction of almost all the actors was disastrous, and there are many of them -- far too many. Skeet Ulrich and Simon Baker are almost as bad as Maguire. Jonathan Rhys Meyers parades around like he's doing an imitation of Mick Jagger circa 1968. Jewel, making her acting debut, is bizarrely anachronistic, reeking more of 1990 than 1860. Only Jeffrey Wright, playing the one black character, knows what he's doing. Lee seems to have wanted to make a real effort to reach out to younger audiences. But filling his cast with Brat Pack youngsters isn't the way to go about that. He demonstrates here a real difficulty directing younger actors. The film Lee made before this was "The Ice Storm." After it was "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." What a stunning contrast there is between those two near-masterpieces and this goofy, boring dud.
Ride with the Devil was an interesting movie for me: For one it was the first movie I seen that actually had the ability to break Tobey MaGuires image of Spider-man in my head. I didn't once think he was going to spawn a web on any of the rider's that were approaching! :-) On a serious note - This movie was based in Missouri during and post-civil war in which we seen the struggles within the state that led to a divide of union loyalist and confederate guerrilla's that were both willing to risk it for all their believes. This movie had some courage in a few different ways. I really enjoyed how one of the confederate guerilla fighters was a black man (as many are afraid to risks that and I've only seen it seconded in Gods and Generals) as well as it steered away from the typical Jesse James movies that are often the only Missouri based stories. We also get a viewpoint from the Confederate side of things which also is typically frowned on and not noted in movies for fear of scrutiny about those who wish to degrade heritage and truth. We now get a glimpse away from the legend behind Jesse James and Bloody Bill Anderson and focus on the everyday riders that never gained fame but only lost and sacrificed in the struggle that touched every American life somehow or another... The actors were amazing, the gory was awesome, the soundtrack, the emotion, the action, and the off season from the action tied in with a few typical western story twist (such as how one man in the group went on to become an outlaw like so many of these men did being they were already sanctioned outlaws by both the south and the north) all came together nicely. Personally for all that it risked in the story it told and viewpoints I took I congratulate this movie for taking men who were noted as 'cowards' (worse than that of the poor confederate viewpoint by those who are ignorant in history as is) by taking the lowest considered form of Confederate 'Freedom fighters' and telling their story in a way like no movie has ever had the balls to tell it like before. It's an amazing film and even if I wasn't a civil war buff and a historian at heart I'd still recommend this movie to many who wants a true glimpse in a film that approaches the civil war without any bias and sticks as close to historic truth as any movie I've seen that wasn't actually completely historical based (and does better then even some of those). Well done!
The Civil War is one of those topics that is so popular that any sort of thing which uses it is basically guaranteed to get people to check it out. That said, I'm rather puzzled as to why this particular film is so underrated and underappreciated. The story here, based on the novel Woe to Live on by Daniel Woodrell (the same guy who wrote Winter's Bone), concerns a group of men who take up the side of the Confederate sympathizing Bushwhackers during the Kansas/Missouri guerrilla fighting during the Civil War. Maybe one reason for why this film is underappreciated is because it tackles a part of the Civil War itself that is not as heavily focusd on, and that's a shame. Of course, I'm from Missouri, and I currently live in the southwst portion of the state, so this movie means a little more to me, especially since I've actually studied what it portrays under the tutelage of a historian. Now that I have my bias out of the way I can try to give this a proper review. What I liked is that this film is about the guerrilla fighting, and that it does shed light on a part of the war that hasn't been done to death. The fighting in the Transmississippi was very brutal, had little to do with big, broad politics, and was mostly concerned with local issues, and the 19th Century conceptions of honor and loyalty. Oftentimes, the proceedings were almost never clear cut black and white, and instead were a heavy shade of gray. What makes this film interesting is how it too shows the characters and events as complex and well rounded. Of the four main bushwhackers the film follows are a true blood rebel out for revenge, a southern gentleman fighting to preserve his way of life, and two odd, but not totally unlikely minorities (Roedel-a Gernan American, which is odd since Germans tended to side with the Union, and Holt- a freed slave fighting out of a sense of loyalty to his friend who bought then later freed him). It is these last two charactrers who get the msot screen time, and they are the most interesting, especially the former slave. With Roedel being of German descent, he is almost always at odds with most everyone around him who are frequently suspicious of his motives, and almsot never completely trusting of him. Holt draws attention simply since, at least on the broad scale, slavery was such a big issue for the war, so it seems odd that he'd fight for the side that's in favor of it. He has his reasons though, and they are passable, and make the character quite intriguing. I think that's what I appreciated the most about this movie. It has its moments of action and violence, but its more of a study of character and personality, and the dynamic of these things within the context of the larger events going on. In a lot of ways, this film is like a nentertaining version of a scholarly text. What's probably the most interesting thing of all though, is who directed this, and that is Ang Lee. Who would have ever thought a film about the American Civil War would be directed by a guy from Taiwan. It seems odd, but this actually allows him to see things from an outside perspective and thus be more objective in how things are treated. He does a really good job of handling the material and executing the action scenes. He's done period pieces before, so it's no surprise that that aspect is also top notch. Like all history based films, this film can't be 100% historically accurate, and this has its fair share of errors, but it's more accurate than not, and what good attention to period detail there is is much appreciated. I did like this film, but it's got issues aside from authenticity.The writing seems uneven, and some of the subplots need to either be cut out completely, or expanded upon more. The film is long, and the pacing is rather on the slow side, but, even though it does need to be tightened up and quickened some, it doesn't drag as bad as I was led to believe. The cast has some real notable names here. Tobey Maquire, Skeet Ulrich, Jewel, Simon Baker, and Jeffrey Wright all have big roles, while people such as Jonathan Rhys Meyers, James Caviezel, Tom Wilkinson, and Mark Ruffalo all show up at various times for varying lengths. Their performances are uneven, with some being more wooden and stilted than others, but Wright does a great job, Maguire is passable, Ulrich is decent, and Jewel is not completely terrible. It sucks that this film has the status thast it does. I'm biased, and I admit it, but even then I think this film is worth a look. It does have some problems, but until more people (if any) decide to give this part of the Civil War another cinematic treatment I suggest you come to it with an open mind and just be thankful that this film tried to deal with it to begin with.
Set during the guerilla war in Missouri and Kansas during the Civil War, this film is a magnificient coming of age story. Tobey McGuire, Jewel, Jeffrey Wright, and many others deliver riveting, graceful performances. It is much better and more authentic than many better known Civil War films. A remarkable look at the maturation of its characters and the rebirth of a nation, this film is a little known gem. Call it a character study in the midst of misery and violence, Ride With The Devil is an unflinching look at honor, friendship, and brutality.
I loved it and I'd like to watch it again.
Powerful civil war film about two guerillas are keen to fight against the onslaught of the North.
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