Wow this was a difficult movie to watch. Hotel Rwanda, directed by Terry George is about the 1992 Rwandan genocide. Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) manages the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda. During the same time, Rwanda is facing a political crisis between the country’s two major social classes: the Hutu and Tutsi. The Hutu military forces initiate an ethnic cleansing against the Tutsi minority after the reported assassination of their president by Tutsi rebels. As a result of this political and military turmoil, Paul Rusesabagina is left to fend for his family and hundreds of Hutu and Tutsi refugees who he harbors within the Hôtel des Mille Collines.
Hotel Rwanda is a period drama that not only objectively shows the events of that particular time but also puts a spotlight on the best and worst of human emotion. Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina embodies the best of human emotion through his selfless actions to harbor and protect hundreds of refugees who he had no business with prior. He is the sort of person who looked beyond race, identity and ethnic values and based his actions only on the contributions he can make to his people and family. On the other hand, the rebels embody the worst of human emotion through their barbaric pursuits to eliminate thousands of innocent men, women and children just because they represented a different class of society. The juxtaposition between these two ideologies made for a compelling, yet heartbreaking tale.
I also liked Hotel Rwanda because it is one of those rare films that quite literally puts you to shame. There are an abundance of gorey and unwatchable sequences that accurately showed the scene at that time: hundreds of bodies dumped across roads and houses lit into flames. This movie will make you sick to your stomach and it should because the film in a way is a reflection of the rest of the world’s ignorance towards these events. I can recall two great pieces of dialogue in Hotel Rwanda, both coincidentally spoken by the character of Jack Danglish (Joaquin Phoenix) who is a cameraman recording the genocide, that spit out a mark of shame on the UN and the rest of the world for failing to not act. I’m just going to paste the lines as they were spoken and I’ll leave you all to soak in the meaning of these words:
#1 Jack: [after Paul thanks him for shooting footage of the genocide] I think if people see this footage, they’ll say Oh, my God, that’s horrible. And then they’ll go on eating their dinners.
#2 Jack: [walking towards the bus carrying all the whites who are leaving Rwanda while the blacks are left behind] Oh, God, I’m so ashamed!
I cannot point to a single dull moment in the film or anything I would have changed. This movie is perfect in the way it was shot and filmed. Despite showcasing events that occurred over two decades ago, Hotel Rwanda could also not be more relevant in our world than today. With similar events occurring in places such as Syria, Iraq and Sudan, I think watching this movie will make you reflect on the things you can do in your own life to spread awareness about injustice and bring about change to save thousands.
Overall, I feel I’ve said what needed to be said about Hotel Rwanda. It is one of those rare films that is shot and edited in a way to elicit a feeling of disgust and hope at the same time. It is also certainly a movie to reflect on after viewing because it could not be more relevant because of the events occurring around us today.