And horrific because of that carnage: the blood-soaked streets, the hundreds of thousands murdered, perpetrated by tribal warlords and a dictator - Charles Taylor - gone mad.
Directed by Gini Reticker with clarity and concision, Pray the Devil Back to Hell combines archival footage, BBC radio news feeds, and newspaper reports with on-camera interviews with key leaders of the female movement. Leymah Gbowee speaks with eloquence about her dream to assemble wives and mothers in a church to pray for peace, and how that first meeting spread to larger protests.
These crowds of women, dressed in white T-shirts, camped in front of a government palace and refusing to budge, are heartening to behold. Bridging the same cultural and religious divide that provided the excuse for a civil war, Gbowee's group and a like-minded team of Muslim women combined forces with a unified goal: remove the guns and bring on the peace.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a remarkable documentary about a remarkable, and historic, movement.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell ***1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Gini Reticker. With Leymah Gbowee, Asatu Bah Kenneth, Vaiba Flomo. Distributed by Balcony Releasing.
Running time: 1 hour, 13 mins.
Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (violent images, adult themes)
Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at http://go.philly.com/inthemix.