The Devil Came on Horseback


The Devil Came on Horseback is a 2007 documentary on the genocide in Darfur.

It follows former Marine Capt. Brian Steidle as he sees the atrocities firsthand (as an unarmed military observer) and then attempts to spread the word, through his testimony and his photographs. Steidle records the killings of black Africans at the hands of Janjaweed militias funded by Sudan’s Arab government.

I was glad to see that it was short, 1 hour, 25 minutes.

After following Steidle’s time in Sudan, the documentary continues through his return to the States and how the word was spread. Interspersed throughout are numerous news clips detailing what the news media knew about what was happening. The US government declared this atrocity a genocide in mid-2004. I remember this. Colin Powell visited and made this declaration. This was followed with concurrence from the House and Senate, and President Bush.

What I learned: Under the Geneva Convention, this declaration requires our US government to act. But have we? Apparently the US government leaned on the United Nations to act, as their action. The UN, par for their course, passed a bunch of resolutions. I was intrigued by all the attention Steidle got, particularly on Capitol Hill, even a few years ago (I don’t remember hearing about him).

The name of the documentary is the meaning of Janjaweed.

While it’s shocking what happened, I wasn’t terribly shocked by the documentary. Perhaps I already knew enough about the situation to be prepared for the images. I’d also been gearing up to watch this for two months.

It’s a necessary story, and this documentary tells it well.


3 Responses to “The Devil Came on Horseback”

  1. mrschili Says:

    This is a film that I feel compelled to see, but that I haven’t…yet. This, and Hotel Rwanda. I think, like you, that I’ll have to gear up to watch it, even though I’m already well-informed about what I’ll see (a lot of my Shoa study brings in investigation of recent and current genocides so, sadly, I’ve got a pretty good background of study on Darfur).

  2. Final Update - Reading & Blogging for Darfur Says:

    […] reviews The Devil Came on Horseback documentary over at Please Pass the […]

  3. WG: Memorial Day/summer kickoff « Word Lily Says:

    […] I think I consume more war movies than war books. Good war movies: Blackhawk Down. Hotel Rwanda. The Devil Came on Horseback. (Maybe I just don’t mentally classify the books I’ve read the same way, […]

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