Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ride with the Devil

Directed by Ang Lee, this 1999 film is set during the Civil War and focuses on the relationships between and experiences of a few young men from Missouri who become bushwhackers. Ride with the Devil shows the ravages of war inflicted on civilians as well as the men who are fighting. It is an epic film, both in the sweep of its story and its duration which, although only about two hours long, feels longer because of all the events that occur in it.

Despite the difficulty I often had in understanding the dialog, due to the actors speaking with strong accents, the vocabulary and rhythm of their speech seemed authentic to the time period (not that I'm an expert!). The interior sets were fascinating in their attention to detail and the outdoor panoramic scenes were beautifully shot. Even though there was a lot of violence in the movie, it was never gratuitous. There are many raids by the bushwhackers and the one on Lawrence, Kansas, is included, and that's the connection to ASJ, since Heyes and Curry talked about the war in The Men That Corrupted Hadleyburg.

It is interesting to compare how that raid was depicted in this movie with how it was shown in Kansas Raiders almost 50 years earlier. Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich and Jeffrey Wright star, along with several other well-known actors whom I had difficulty distinguishing from one another and a huge cast of extras.