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Mystery Movies - The Siege At Ruby Ridge

Buy The Siege At Ruby Ridge
Aka Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy
Laura Dern, Randy Quaid, Kirsten Dunst
Directed by Roger Young
Made For Television 1996
MGM Home Video 2005
177 minutes
DVD Release Date: October 4, 2005
Whenever you watch a movie about government conspiracy or cover-up or about the events surrounding an anti-government end-of-the-world group, you wonder automatically how balanced the movie is going to be. This is the case for The Siege At Ruby Ridge (broadcast as Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy), an Emmy nominated docudrama based on real-life events and what happened to White Supremacist Randy Weaver and his family in August 1992 at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The fact that The Siege At Ruby Ridge immediately portrays the Weaver family, especially wife Vicky, as right-wing religious nuts and fervent anti-semites who believe no one in the world aside from them and their little group understands the truth will immediately cause a viewer to question how balanced and fair this self-billed docudrama is.

The Siege At Ruby Ridge is a fascinating movie but definitely not the kind of thing you want to watch with your kids unless you want to explain all the racial epithets white supremacists use and the entire concept of ZOG. It seems writer Lionel Chetwynd also did not want to explain much so the viewer has no idea where Vicky Weaver (Laura Dern) got all her apocalyptic ideas and, since she seems to be the driving force behind the Weaver family, how these same ideas became more and more radical. There is a short scene where, after going to an Aryan Nations cross-burning barbecue Vicky objects to Randy training some white supremacists on his land but this is quickly dismissed even if Randy agrees not to do it and the Weaver kids are soon spouting all the Aryan nations verbiage.

Randy Weaver and his wife Vicky are definitely not the kind of neighbor you would want. Nobody likes a snooty neighbor and likes even less neighbors who fervently believe the end of the world is nigh. that they are the only ones who really understand God’s plan, fire their weapons in your general direction, laugh at you when you object, and have their kids parade like Nazi soldiers in front of your house when you have a serious disagreement with them.

Halfway through the movie agents from the Federal Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, using a charge against Randy Weaver for selling guns to an undercover agent, try to get Weaver to work for them and inform on the Aryan Nation. Weaver refuses, tells his family he is going to turn himself in, and Vicky objects.

The wheels fall off everybody’s wagon when the government arrests Randy Weaver on the gun charge. The part-time judge misexplains the conditions of Weaver’s bail and probation, the FBTF is too busy to send down a lawyer itself and one agent tells the agent in charge of Weaver’s case they are too busy to deal with a little case like that right now and the law will run its course. Big mistake.

After that, it all depends your interpretation or your version of the events at Ruby Ridge. On August 21, 1992 the Federal Bureau Of Firearms and Tobacco, tired of waiting for Weaver to come down from his mountain and afraid of the confrontation everyone says is going to happen if they go up there, send a special recognizance group up on Ruby Ridge. That is when all hell breaks loose.

This is where this movie becomes really fascinating. Two versions are given to the events that follow: the version of Kevin Harris, a protégé of Randy Weaver, the version of the government agents who were on the mountain that first day. It is clear both the Kevin Harris and government versions have some, as politicians like to say, untruths, while the docudrama version tries to find a balance between the two by showing both. Ultimately, it is up to the viewer to figure things out; the trial of Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris that ends this movie will probably influence his or her judgment. What is easy to figure out is mistakes were made on both sides. The inquiry into the Ruby Ridge incident done after the events at Waco, Texas, seems to put the blame on both sides.

One thing that will greatly annoy viewers of The Siege At Ruby Ridge –Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy-- is the way this made for TV miniseries is cut into scenes on the DVD. You would think a perfect place to end a scene would be when the credits roll for the end of part one and the perfect place to begin a new scene would be when the credits roll for part two. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I know few people who can sit straight through a 3-hour movie or TV show. Most people will watch the end credits for part one roll, stop the DVD to take a break or watch the rest the next day, and then have a nightmare of a time starting off where they left off because the next scene you can navigate to through scene selection starts quite a ways into the beginning of part two.

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