Acclaimed director Ang Lee ("The Ice Storm," "Sense and Sensibility") once again takes audiences on a journey to a different time and place, and into his characters' internal conflicts. A cast of rising young starts portrays young Americans, striving to find themselves and the country they had always called home, amidst national turmoil. The screenplay for "Ride with the Devil" is adapted (by Lee's Longtime collaborator, James Schamus) from Daniel Woodrell's novel Woe to Live On.
Only once, in the history of the United States, has the nation been at war... with itself. In 1861, the Southern Confederacy is formed, and the American Civil War ignites. While the official military campaigns are being fought miles away, the pro-Southern Bushwackers engage in guerrilla warfare on the back roads and across the countryside. Along the Kansas/Missouri border, childhood friends Jake Roedel (Tobey Maguire), the Missouri-raised son of a poor German immigrant, and Jack Bull Chiles (Skeep Ulrich), the son of a Missouri plantation owner, join up as Bushwackers. These young men are, or must quickly learn to be, skilled gunman and expert horsemen executing daring raids on the North's Union soldiers and sympathizers. By 1862, their unity headed by Black John (James Caviezel), includes the unstable Pitt Mackeson (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), the gentlemanly George Clyde (Simon Baker), and Clyde's loyal former slave Daniel Holt (Jeffrey Wright).
With a harsh winter looming, the Bushwackers must disperse and find shelter. Sever squad members hole up in a hidden hillside dugout. Their vigil is brightened by the visits of compassionate young widow Sue Lee (Jewel). Then, the realities of the war intrude, splintering the group but uniting Jake and Holt in solidarity as outsiders. When the seasons change and the brutal battles intensify, the young men reach turning points both in the fighting and in themselves.
Universal Pictures presents a Good Machine Production. An Ang Lee Film, Ride with the Devil. Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire, Jewel, Jeffrey Wright, Simon Baker, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, James Caviezel, Thomas Guiry, and Tom Wilkinson. Costume Designer, Marit Allen. Music, Mychael Danna. Editor, Tim Squyres. Production Designer, Mark Friedberg. Director of Photography, Fredrick Elmes, A.S.C. Executive Producer, David Linde. Based on the novel Woe to Live On, by Daniel Woodrell. Produced by Ted Hope, Robert F. Colesberry, James Schamus. Screenplay by James Schamus. Directed by Ang Lee.