Ride With the Devil
October 28, 2013
A harrowingly personal look at life on the fringes of the Civil War, this revisionist Western marks Lee’s first foray into action filmmaking, while retaining the humanistic sense of family drama that marks his four previous films. Following a group of young Missouri men who become unofficial guerilla fighters in the War Between the States, Ride With the Devil tracks their dark journey into the horrors of war, as their seemingly righteous desire to defend and avenge their countrymen devolves into the nihilistic violence of the infamous Lawrence Massacre. Based on Daniel Woodrich’s novel Woe to Live On, James Schamus’ screenplay eschews schematic relationships between characters, instead presenting complex sets of alliances, antagonisms, betrayals, and affections. Coolly received or overlooked altogether upon its initial release, the film has been critically resurrected as one of Lee’s most underrated and intense pieces of cinema.