- Jack Bull (Skeet Ulrich) to Daniel Holt (Jeffrey Wright)
"I'll always know your rump from a mule now."
- Jack Bull to Miss Evans (Jewel)
"Before they built that church they built that schoolhouse. They rounded every pup into that schoolhouse because they fancied that everyone should think and talk the same freethinking way they do, with no regard to station, custom, propriety. And that is why they will win. Because they believe everyone should live and think just like them. And we shall lose because we don't care one way or another how they live. We just worry about ourselves."
- Mr. Evans (Zach Grenier) to Jake (Tobey Maguire) and Jack
"I felt something that day I never felt...I felt free."
- Holt to Jake
"...[The film's] widescreen images have a sweeping, sometimes desolate beauty..."
Premiere - 11/??/1999
"...[A] striking, brave picture....Maguire is thrilling as Roedel, whose passage to manhood is faithfully chronicled by Schamus and Lee..."
Sight and Sound - 12/??/1999
"...A texture of fine-grained observation that brings history to life on the molecular level..."
Total Film - 06/01/2000
"...Worthy and beautifully crafted..."
New York Times - 11/24/1999
"...Visually arresting....[Maguire gives a] sensitive, understated performance..."
Los Angeles Times - 11/24/1999
"...Maguire shows an increased maturity that suits him well..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 12/17/1999
"...The technical and acting credits are first rate..."
A.V. Club - 04/28/2010
"[T]he dialogue gives RIDE WITH THE DEVIL its own offbeat personailty....Lee and Schamus superbly illustrate the confusion of the times..." -- Grade: A-
Director Ang Lee follows up the critically acclaimed THE ICE STORM with this look at the bloody, intense conflict between the pro-Confederate Bushwackers and the pro-Union Jayhawkers in Missouri during the Civil War. Pitting neighbor against neighbor, the war in the frontier state tested personal loyalties and often created strange alliances. The film, based on Daniel Woodrell's book WOE TO LIVE ON, follows the conflict through the eyes of two outsiders: a German immigrant's son (Tobey Maguire) and a free black man (Jeffrey Wright), both of whom fight for the Bushwhackers even though they are looked down upon by their fellow guerrillas. The acting is strong all around, the setting realistically grim and absorbing, and Frederick Elmes's photography is, as always, top-notch. Pop singer Jewel appears onscreen for the first time, playing a plucky Southern woman. A nuanced examination of the bonds of obligation, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL anticipates Lee's high-flying CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, both in theme and in pulse-pounding action. The film contains many standout action sequences, including a historically accurate re-creation of William Quantrill's infamous raid on Lawrence, Kansas.
RIDE WITH THE DEVIL is straightforward look at a group of Civil War pro-Southern Bushwackers--operating in the relative no-man's-land of Kansas and Missouri--who carry out guerrilla attacks on the Union army and its sympathizers. Ang Lee's film follows these marginalized outsiders as they pursue their fervent, ultimately doomed cause with an intense and bloodthirsty commitment.
Based On A Novel |
Civil War |
Theatrical release: November 24, 1999.
Shot on location in Kansas and Missouri.
The actors went through a three-week training period, during which they learned how to ride horses, fire weapons, and speak in an authentic Southern dialect. They also ate period food such as salt pork bacon and hardtack. Several actors did not bathe or shave for a few days so as to experience the hardships the Bushwhackers faced. Director Ang Lee also assigned the actors a reading list, which included THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, and THE DEVIL KNOWS HOW TO RIDE, a biography of the Bushwhacker William Quantrill by Edward E. Leslie.
Bad weather from El Niño often turned the film's shooting locations into muddy messes. In a reference to his previous film, Lee jokingly labeled the sets the Mud Storm.
Jewel grew up in a cabin in Alaska, so she could identify with the hardships her character, Sue Lee, faced. To memorize her lines, Jewel often sang them to herself. She also wrote several songs from the perspective of her character. One, "What's Simple Is True," is played over the film's credits.
Matt Damon was offered the part of Jack Bull, but he declined and appeared in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY instead. Damon's move caused Fox Searchlight to drop RIDE WITH THE DEVIL. The film was then picked up by Universal.
Revenge raids between the Bushwhackers and the Jayhawkers lasted for more than a decade after the Civil War ended.
"I grew up in Taiwan, where older people always complained that kids are becoming Americanized; they don't follow tradition, and so we are losing our culture. As I got the chance to go around a large part of the world with my films, I would hear the same complaints. It seems so much of the world is becoming Americanized. When I read Daniel Woodrell's book WOE TO LIVE ON, which we based RIDE WITH THE DEVIL on, I realized that the American Civil War was, in a way, where it all started. It was where the Yankees won not only territory but, in a sense, a victory for a whole way of life and thinking."--Ang Lee, in an interview at the RIDE WITH THE DEVIL Web site.
"When we were making SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, there was a moment when Ang turned to me and said, 'You know, some day I'd like to make a movie with characters who have dirty fingernails.' And there are lots of those in Daniel's book."--James Schamus, in an interview at the RIDE WITH THE DEVIL Web site.
"A studio executive told us, I'm not spending millions of dollars on a movie with 'woe' in the title.' So, reflecting the different needs of the medium, the novel WOE TO LIVE ON became the movie RIDE WITH THE DEVIL."--Ted Hope, in an interview at the RIDE WITH THE DEVIL Web site.
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