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I'm a college freshman at a small school in New York taking a class on the individuals role and responsibility in community. We read the book "We'd like to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families" about the Rwandan genocide and then went to see this movie. It is very accurate about what happened but reading it is just not the same as seeing it, it seemed horrendous always but when I actually saw the movie it was just... Jesus... it's so hard to believe that this happened and that this could. The film was excellent in both execution and portrayal. Everyone must see this movie and know we are all human beings and it is our responsibility to be there for each other. Jesus Christ... this can not happen.
I attended the United States premier of Hotel Rwanda on November 3rd,
2004 in Philadelphia. I have never written a review for a movie before,
but this movie was excellent and I am urging everyone I know that they
should see it as well.
I lived in Rwanda in the summer of '04. I have read several books on the history of Rwanda and talked about the '94 genocide with locals in Rwanda and also with Rwandans living in the US. I am by no means an expert on the history or the country, but I do know a fair amount about it, which is part of why I am writing this review.
The movie was an excellent reproduction of what Rwanda is like and it tells the true story of one of the many heroes during that time. While it is a sad movie, it is also a story of hope. The portrayal of the violence was subtle and powerful, but not overly graphic. The movie focuses on the efforts of the manager of an upscale hotel in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda to protect the guests/refugees streaming into his hotel to escape the killing. The writer/directory (who spoke after the premier) said that he made an effort to get a PG13 rating rather than an R rating to ensure that students would be able to see this movie.
It is an important movie to see because it brings to life the hope and triumph in Rwanda. It also shows what the media did not show in '94 and is not showing in Darfur: The suffering of ordinary people who need help from the rest of the world. While governments repeat the phrase 'never again' yet do nothing, it is up to us to ordinary people to learn about these events and do something or make our governments do something about them. Please see this movie-it does not have the budget to launch everywhere and relies on word of mouth to generate enough interest to make it into every city.
The basic hurdle for the world to have more empathy with the macro
issue of the horrendous massacre is the fact that the world is
uninformed. Unlike the situation of Nazis and Jews, Irish Catholics and
British Protestants or Crusade and Islam, the issue of Tutsi and Hutu
in Rwanda has not generally been heard of by an average citizen of the
world. In the movie, the reporter asks two women at the bar in Hotel
Rwanda what tribe they belong to. "Hutu" says one, and "Tutsi", the
other. The reported turns around and comments to his companion "They
look like twins to me". That says a lot.
The film does educate us on the brief background of the local history, on how the Belgians used the Tutsi's to rule the Hutu and so since they left, the Hutu had been waiting for their chance to revenge. That is however just the bare backbone of the history, but we have not been brought to a deeper understanding of the bitter hatred that drove the Hutus to a diabolical genocide of a million Tutsi in 1994 as the world turned its back: "the nations are united in their indifference towards Rwanda" as Mr. Ebert aptly puts it.
Rather than being an epic on macro scale, Hotel Rwanda is a personal story (albeit a true one) on micro scale, about hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina's heroic efforts which saved twelve hundred hotel "guests" of Tutsi descent, including his own wife. This is a story told with high quality filming and yet one cannot help but come away feeling that it leans slightly towards looking like a Hollywood thriller. It would be gross injustice to say it's crafted and yet, the climax after climax of narrow escape and cliffhanging suspense does feel a tad Hollywood. It would be gross injustice to say that it's a tearjerker and yet one cannot help feeling traces of familiarity in the Hollywood style emotional pull. And there is considerable predictability, such as the sudden bumpy ride of the jeep in the fog would be easily discerned by a regular moviegoer as the signal for the next scene: a road strewn with bodies of massacred victims.
Oscar nominee Don Cheadle's performance as the circumstance-driven hero is deservedly recognized by the nomination. Nick Notle, who was wonderful in "Clean", puts in another great performance here as a similarly circumstance-driven hero in the U.N. peace keeping force Col. Oliver. The rest of the cast contributing to making this film a solid success includes Sophie Okonedo who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as Pauls's wife Tatiana and Joaquin Phoenix as the reporter whose videotape of the massacre made the world pay attention. All told, Hotel Rwanda is a high-quality movie, but I can't agree with many comments hailing Hotel Rwanda as another Schindler's List.
The madness one sees in this brilliant film is hard to imagine, yet it
occurred in Rwanda. Terry George, the director, captures those terrible
days in Rwanda in his film "Hotel Rwanda". Mr. George has to be
commended for bringing to the screen a detailed account of a country in
chaos. Working with Keir Pearson on the screen play, the director
presents us with the horrors of what the country lived during the
holocaust that befell Rwanda.
At the center of the story is Paul Rusesabagina, a courageous man who witnessed first hand the worst days of the Hutu rebellion and its bloody aftermath. This man alone was able to protect and to save more than a thousand Rwandans that clearly would not be around today, had it not been for his tremendous stand against people that showed no mercy, or wouldn't reason about what they were doing to their fellow citizens.
The performance of Don Cheadle, as Paul Rusesabagina, is worth the price of admission! This wonderful actor projects such an intelligence that it's hard to find in any American film released in 2004. Mr. Cheadle was right to portray this man; it was a role he was born to play. Mr. Cheadle got under the skin of the hotel manager and runs away with the film. It's hard to keep ones eyes from this commanding performance.
The rest of the mostly black cast is excellent. One must single out Sophie Okoneko, who plays Paul's wife with such dignity that she perfectly matches Mr. Cheadle's performance. Nick Nolte is fine as the UN Colonel trying to keep peace in a place gone mad.
Congratulations to Mr. George. With this film he touches us in more ways than we imagined. The unfortunate tragedy could well have been avoided if the international community would have intervened sooner, but obviously, it didn't even try until it was too late.
This is a terrific movie. The performances are spectacular, particularly Don Cheadle. He deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of the hotel manager. The movie itself is much more important than just entertainment value. Most people aren't familiar with the horrific events in Rwanda in the 1990's, but they should be. We tend to think that genocide is something from the past that just doesn't happen in today's "civil" modern world. The true story behind this movie proves just the opposite. With all the focus on the Holocaust in World War II and all the talk about "never letting it happen again," the world as a whole failed the people of Rwanda miserably just a few years ago. Everyone should see this movie, and learn a thing or two.
Hotel Rwanda (2004) Directed by Terry George, is the great film of
Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina, an African who has bought into the European ideal of the perfect life. He's the manager of a four-star hotel in Rwanda. He has a beautiful wife (played by Sophie Okonedo), handsome and healthy young children, a new vehicle, and a fine suburban home.
All this changes when civil strife erupts in Rwanda. When this happens the former colonial powers wash their hands of the problems, and the Rwandans are left to fend for themselves in an atmosphere of increasing violence and anarchy.
The acting is excellent and the story is emotionally gripping. Like Schindler's List, the film follows one man's attempt to save as many people as he can. Schindler and Rusesabagina were heroic, resourceful, and amazingly effective. However, as individuals, they could accomplish only so much. Outside intervention could have saved a million lives in Rwanda, but it was never forthcoming. The Rwandan genocide is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. Hotel Rwanda brings this horror onto the screen and into our lives.
Addendum: Nick Nolte plays Colonel Oliver, the U.N. commander in Rwanda. This role is obviously based on Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian officer who commanded the ridiculously small force of 400 U.N. soldiers. These troops were unable to do anything more than watch the genocide taking place before their eyes. General Dellaire's story is told in Steven Silver's film "The Last Just Man."
I heard this movie was good but that really isn't true. It is a masterpiece! I have never been so moved by a movie. This movie is just so sad and moving. I can't even imagine what the real thing must have been like. Please see this movie. I think it is important for the world to know what happened and to remember what happened to the Tootsie people. I really hope this movie wins an Acadamy Award all in the movie were amazing and did an amazing job portraying the seemingly hopeless situation they were in. The part that bothers me is how no one tried to help. I'd like to believe we didn't know but that's not true. What Jaquin Phonix's character said is true "They'll say 'that's terrible' and then they'll go back to eating their dinner." and it'also true what the UN officer said. People just didn't care enough. I hope this film teaches us that people of all races and countries are important.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1994 tensions are high in Rwanda between the ruling Hutus and the
Tutsis rebels while the UN tries to broken a peace agreement. This is
of little interest to Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu with a Tutsis wife
whose position within a leading hotel means he has to curry favour with
many officials and smoothing over any potential problems at every turn.
When the Hutu president is assassinated, a massacre of Tutsis begin
adults and children alike. With the UN unable to take action due to the
indifference of the West the murders continue and Paul finds himself
with a hotel, evacuated of important whites but full of Tutsis refugees
as the Hutus seek to finish the job they started.
I'm not entirely sure how one can review this film with a clear mind because no matter how good or bad a film it is, it is near impossible not to left shaken by the events it depicts. The plot follows the story of Paul Rusesabagina, who pulled all the strings he could to protect the Tutsis refugees who wound up in his hotel during the genocide by the Hutus. In this regard we are given a way into the atrocities through this specific story and this is both a strength and a weakness in the telling. The strength is that it gives us a focal point and a point of emotional connection that we can relate to and see a human face in the way that the terrifying numbers do not. However the downside of this is that it makes the story smaller than it could have been and puts the scale of atrocities outside of our direct view for the majority. It also means that it produces a "happy" ending that leaves you with a sense of some respite (not to mention the obligatory "African" song). This was a problem for me because the film had succeeded in gutting me at points and I didn't want to be left with any upbeat note I wanted to go away feeling just like the foreign photographer did; "f**king ashamed".
However considering what the film does well, it is petty and unfair to make a bit issue out of the fact that the narrative is occasionally a bit clunky and perhaps that the depiction of the genocide doesn't go far enough. Even without graphic violence and more than one scene of actual horror the film still sickened me to my stomach, had me almost shaking with anger and fear while at the same time failing to prevent tears rolling. Like many viewers I knew little more than a genocide occurred and couldn't have told you which side was killing the other this is not ignorance on my behalf but just the fact that the West ignored this and stood by while it occurred while the media gave it little or no coverage. The film depicts this very well giving us enough horror and enough human emotion mixed with an understanding of the West's attitude to produce an impression of an event that is indefensible and truly, truly horrific. The characters are quite broadly painted but they do enough to give us an understanding of what occurred. While I do feel that the film could have shown more and been wider, the close focus on the hotel and the Rusesabagina's means that we are never far from understanding the true extent of horror and just how much of a reality death is Paul does not discuss how his family will survive if the hotel is stormed, only how they will die in the least horrific way.
Matching the tone of the film are two performances that blow away everyone they were nominated with at the 2005 Oscars. Cheadle's accent in Ocean's 11 was the worst cockney this side of Mary Poppins but here he gets the accent and mannerisms just right and made me forget that he was an American. His character changes throughout the film and he copes with it really well, producing a character that is easy to get behind and provides a very human face to the story. Okonedo is superb and is almost impossible to watch without being moved to tears more than once. Nolte is effectively gruff although he is less a character than he is a symbol of how ineffective the UN was at the time. In a similar vein Phoenix is excellent in a small role although really I could have done with a few less starry cameos as they tended to distract from the main material. Outside of the lead two, the actors are not given as much to work with as the lead two but Cheadle and Okonedo are superb and match the emotional impact of the material.
Overall this is not a perfect film; it didn't quite go far enough and the focus on a small group tended to conceal the scale of the genocide. However this is a minor complaint because the film is devastatingly effective and is impossible to watch without feeling lost, helpless and utterly ashamed for our inaction. This is not an easy watch and will not be a fun night out for the audience but for many reasons it deserves as large an audience as possible.
1994 Rwanda,Kigali. Paul Rusesabagina(Don Cheadle)is a Hutu happily
married(Sophie Okonedo) and with children.He's Hotel manager Millie
Collines proprietary of Belgian Airlines:Sabena and its General
Director(Jean Reno) placed in Belgium.Paul is respected for his
generosity,charm,friendship and numerous contacts with important
people.He's accidentally trapped in violent events when his family and
neighbours are threaten to kill.He gets avoid it by means of bribes
with the hope that United Nations(UN) and international forces arrive
to preventing the civil war. However the happenings break out
again.After assassination of President of Rwanda, all get worse.It
begins the horrible genocide including rampage,ravishing and ravage in
Rwanda which is spread for Burundi.Slaughter of Tusis by the Hutu is
executed by soldiers and rebels. A journalist(Joaquin Phoenix)get into
tumult and will shoot to show it at the world.Paul gets to protect his
family and unfortunates refugees at the hotel but others hapless by the
hundred are coming to ask help.Meanwhile the refugees Tutsis flee
toward Congo to find shelter.The film has an acid critic to the
indolence of United Nations(exception Colonel incarnated by Nick Nolte)
and international community and specially, the abandon of foreign
Thus, a personage says that origin conflict is for Belgians whom in colonization epoch differentiated the Tutsi as highest and complexion more white and co-governed united the country,now the Hutu are taking the vengeance. It's calculated that in the indiscriminate massacre were cruelly killed by militia Interhamwe approximately one million people and in only three month.Conflict finished in 1994 when the Tutsi throw out the Hutu army and militia through of the frontier Congo. Leader of Interhamwe was condemned to maxim penalty. Don Cheadle interpretation is magnificent ,he was nominated for Acadamy Award although wrongly didn't obtain it.The motion picture is well directed by Terry George. Rating : Awesome and above average .Indispensable watching
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
''Hotel Rwanda'''is a very powerful and sad story showing the
atrocities that happened in Rwanda in 1994,where almost 1 million
people were killed in 100 days. The division of two groups, the tutsis
and the hutus,made Rwanda's peace something to dream about. We see that
all started when the Belgians gave power to the tustsis, because they
had a fair skin and a complexion much more similar of the Europeans
then the hutus. Even measuring the noses was a normal thing to do.
Years after, the Hutus were the ones who stayed with the power and they
wanted revenge by smashing the tutsis.
This movie shows the history of a man called Paul Rusesabagina and his courage during the war in Rwanda, when he saved the lives of over a thousand helpless tutsi refugees from a big genocide. Paul is a hutu, but his family is tutsi, another reason to have experienced the terrible things the hutus were doing to the tutsis.
Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo are both awesome in their roles, and Don should have won the best actor award/Nobel.
Ps: Jean Reno's cameo here.
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