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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A searing indictment of the West's complete refusal to do Anything 11
years ago. When the Rwandan massacres began, it was like a dam
burst-the Hutu president's plane is shot down, and the violence tore
across that country for 100 days. I remember the news--500,000,
800,000, maybe up to a million people were butchered. We did Nothing.
White people from away got out, and that was all. I have always been a
Clinton fan but that was his worst moment, being too scared of
committing to another Somalia to do so much as send in a single GI.
So here you have the Hotel, a four-star swanky oasis during the genocide's, w/ Don Cheadle bribing every general or bigwig Hutu in sight to stay alive, stay in business, and keep the huddled Tutsis inside alive for yet another day, a week, month, 'til freedom finally comes at the end. Cheadle is incredible in this. He deserved an Oscar.
It's played very much as a Schindler's List goes Africa, from the point of view of the Hotel. You wind up only seeing the violence here, here, and there, whenever the sea of war hits the Hotel itself before moving on again.
The most jarring scenes--the van load of Tutsi's surrounded by militia in the street, w/ a desperate Cheadle bribing them to their freedom, the 'bumpy road' which turns out to be acres of bodies lying hacked to death as far's the eye can see, and of course the separation from his wife. I found myself wincing especially in the 'bumpy road' section. The mind reels at such ugliness, and cannot grasp the sheer magnitude of what really happened there.
Kudus to Nick Nolte and the actress who played the wife, both were top notch as well.
Do check this one out, it will break your heart and anger you at the same time.
***1/2 outta ****
"Hotel Rwanda" gives a first-hand account of the genocide that occurred
between the two main tribes in Rwanda, the Hutus and the Tutsis. Paul
Rusesabagina (Cheadle) is the manager of a luxury hotel in the area
that caters to the wealthy and to government figures. Outside of the
gates of the resort, Tutsis are being killed by the Hutu militia, and
though Paul (a Hutu) is married to Tatiana (Okonedo) (a Tutsi) for the
sake of his family, he turns a blind eye until his in-laws disappear
and the militia literally come to his doorstep demanding his
cooperation and the surrender of his wife, children and neighbors. With
the diplomacy that he has learned in his job he is able to barter with
them, basically paying a great deal of money for the lives of his
family and neighbors. Meanwhile, Col. Oliver (Nolte), who is with the
United Nations, is trying to help the refugees and keep some semblance
of order, but is forced to evacuate only the Caucasian residents of the
hotel, leaving all of the Rwandans (both Tutsi and Hutus that are Tutsi
sympathizers) to fend for themselves, which leads Paul to open the
hotel to over 1,000 Tutsi refugees. There they try desperately to get
out of the country, and ultimately, survive since the Hutu militia is
now targeting any sympathizers as well.
From about fifteen minutes into "Hotel Rwanda", I was pretty upset, and that feeling didn't go away once. Don Cheadle is incredibly good as a conflicted hero. Many comparisons have been made between this film and "Schindler's List", but if there is a way to rate levels of heroship, Paul Rusesabagina as portrayed in the film is pretty high up there. He is repeatedly given the chance to escape unharmed, but never gives in, a big turnaround from the beginning of the film when he first turned a blind eye, then became a reluctant hero. Cheadle captures this complicated figure brilliantly. It's not just the superficial coups that he achieves (flawless accent, etc.) it is the subtle strength he gives the character. His character may not be a beloved singer or a good impersonation of someone, but the strength of his performance should have given him an Oscar, not just a nomination. (Though I am glad that he at least got that much.) This is the first film that I have seen Sophie Okonedo act in, and she also extremely good. She quickly shows that she is more than a pretty face, and her strength and mettle are admirable, while experiencing the worst atrocities first hand.
As a film, "Hotel Rwanda" was not manipulative emotional. Under Terry George's direction, it felt at times like a documentary because it was truly an unblinking look at a terrible and shameful time in history. Though I had heard about the genocide, I was not fully aware of the "reasons" for the war, and as completely ridiculous as they were, the film is excellent at providing us a lesson in recent history without commentary. As far as I can tell, this is a pretty level look at the conflict and while it was incredibly emotional, it was not preachy. While I mention that it had an almost documentary feel to it, which is not to say that there were dramatic moments. One moment in particular where I literally felt like I was going to be sick was when Paul (in what was probably his defining moment) encounters literally hundreds of dead bodies on a road that he and one of his hotel employees are traveling. Having said that, however, even a moment like this one was managed with care and subtlety by George.
I was telling some co-workers about the film and its emotional impact and a couple of them who hadn't seen it went, "Gee that sounds too depressing for me". "Hotel Rwanda" is certainly not a cheerful film, it is a film about a conflict that ended the lives of one million people in a matter of months while most of the world turned a blind eye. But it amazingly ends on a note that did not make me want to find the nearest closed garage and turn on the car, and left me with a newly found understanding of something I had only heard about and until Saturday night, knew nothing about. "Hotel Rwanda" is not an easy film to watch, but it is really and truly an excellent film that should be seen, both for its impactful storytelling and for its command performances. 8/10 --Shelly
"Never have so many owed so much to so few" - Winston Churchill.
I think this quote best describes the atmosphere highlighted in this magnificent film. What Paul Rusesebagina did to help the helpless Tutsis families by sheltering them in his hotel was proof that everyone of us can make a change for the better. The story is simply amazing and shocking at the same time - the feeling of regret and compassion was amplified by the fact that this movie was based on a true story.
Don Cheadle delivers an outstanding performance.His acting is flawless - he manages to actually bring the viewer into the harsh Rwandian environment of the 1994 events. He skillfully points out the torment which Paul Rusesebagina faced! Sophie Okonedo also plays very well in this movie, masterfully playing the role of the determined and loving mother willing to do anything to save her children. Nick Nolte is superb in playing remorse haunted Colonel Oliver of the UN forces and Joaquin Phoenix does a great job on playing the character of Jack Daglish, the cameraman in charge to bring footage of the massacre.
What strikes me at this movie is the remarkable resemblance between Paul Rusesebagina and Oskar Schindler, two men who risked their lives to save other people and who, against all odds, succeeded in achieving this.Through their actions, they saved the entire world, saved it from forgetting the fact that we are all humans and a right to live on this planet!
All in all, this movie is superb and greatly deserves a spot in the Top 250! 9/10
Hotel Rwanda The true story of a man who saved over 1000 people (many
of them very young children) from slaughter. Close to a million Tutsis
died because the west didn't want to risk the lives of 300 of their own
- these 300 people who have histories, families, loved ones, blah blah
who were so much more important and valuable apparently. Instead of
sending in the requested urgent intervention to protect over a million
people marked for death, the west washed their hands of these people.
Based on the footage I have seen from various documentaries on the genocide, I believe that this film is an entirely accurate portrayal of what happened (except, of course, the language would have been French, not English). Filmed on site in Kigali, the painstaking attention to detail in the film made you realise exactly what it would have felt like to witness the situation unfold right before your eyes. I feel I can understand how it's possible to not see (or believe) something like that is imminent until too late. We all "have" these reassurances in the back of our minds that this sort of thing can't happen, that humanity won't let it happen, that someone in power somewhere will make sure this kind of thing won't happen. That surely it's someone's job somewhere to ensure this can't happen.
I watched this film with my friend Lucy, who was in Rwanda as an aid worker shortly after the genocide - she's even been to the hotel itself.
But what you realise is that, in reality, you really can be abandoned by the world, even if they know FULL WELL what's going to happen to you, even if they know FULL WELL that they'll regret not helping when they should have and be so very ashamed of themselves later. Humans seem to sometimes prefer to be ashamed later than to risk their necks in the now.
You forget you're sitting in a cinema - you are in Rwanda for those 2 hours. I felt a whole spectrum of emotions - I was scared, sad, horrified, angry, I felt the tension and relief for the characters at every turn, etc as the scenes unfolded.
Lucy said it best - we were both shell-shocked when we came out. I had my tissue in my hand.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
2004, at least late 2004, may turn out to be the greatest period of
cinema in the last 20 years at least. With the brilliance of such films
as Million Dollar Baby and Finding Neverland and this heavy hitter but
sadly under rated Hotel Rwanda. How does a film like this not get
nominated for Best Picture by the Academy? Hotel Rwanda is the true
story of Hotel Manager Paul Rusesabagina during the most turbulent time
of Rwandan history. The two warring factions the Hutu's and the Tutsis
are almost reaching a peace agreement when the Rwandan Presient is
assassinated. Paul is big time businessman who spends his time making
top connections in the event he needs to call in favors during war
time. When war breaks out, Paul finds himself involuntarily harboring
refugees in his hotel. As he is gradually immersed in horrifying images
and war crimes against his own people, he stands strong and helps over
1200 refugees and saves their lives.
Don Cheadle is amazing, he's always been a talented actor but Hotel Rwanda will launch his leading acting career. His leadership qualities and his role is amazing. I must admit, I find the supporting cast, including his wife, played by Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, brief appearance by Joaquin Phoenix, and the hotel staff are certainly adequate but no one particularly stand out especially against Don Cheadle's role. But the cast really isn't what makes this movie a true astonishing film. It's the writing and the film making and the story, combined with Don Cheadle's role. Terry George focus's on the true horror of the Genocide situation, and Paul's struggle to save his own family but not at the cost of everyone else. He is determined to not let anyone die. The scenes of the bodies are disturbing and will bring tears to your eyes, and you feel Paul's compassion for this people. This might not be a well remembered event but after experiencing Hotel Rwanda, you won't ever forget it. It's without a doubt one of the best pictures you will see this year!! 10/10
This is a good movie. That can't be denied. But it is also the polished
PG-13 version of one of the most horrifying events in modern history.
Every little bit of information about the Rwandan genocide, that can
find its way to the knowledge of people, is of course precious, and for
that I am happy that this movie was made and brought lights to the
topic in a way that regrettably not even the actual genocide could do.
BUT... (And this is a big BUT.)
This movie, has IMO never been able to fully depict the absolute horror of the genocide in Rwanda. It is not about the amounts of blood on the screen, nor the number of bodies in piles in the frames. It's about how you close up to the subject. And nothing in this movie makes me relive the anguish and emotional trauma which I felt when I was in Rwanda, some 8 yrs after the genocide. I have seen the scarred remains of a country trying to build itself up from the ashes. I've seen the mass graves, the Gacaca courts, the thousands and yet thousands of convicted perpetrators in their pink uniforms, working the fields. I have been to the survivors center and I have seen the thousands of skulls lying in N'tarama Church. What does "Hotel Rwanda" make me feel? Not very much. (As a note - I have also been to "Mille Collines". Which was a rather bizarre feeling, that luxury in the midst of poor Kigali.) This movie is just a little bit too detached from the reality as it was, to get to you in the way that the story of the genocide really does, if told in another way. Sure, I can see that people who have not known much about the Rwandan genocide, can get very emotionally affected by the movie, and I do too, of course. But, I still think that this movie makes a quite a shallow impression compared with other movies on the topic. Of course, I wasn't there when it actually happened, but when you have seen the mayhem after it with your own eyes, it's still different to when you haven't.
AND ALSO - the thing that bugs me the most is the fact that Paul Rusesabagina really isn't quite the hero the world seems to think him to be. Did you know that the man "sold" shelter to the refugees coming to Mille Collines? The ones with money got in, the ones without, didn't. So the people who survived thanks to Rusesabagina were mainly very rich. Of course it's good that they survived, but what about the ones with no money. Rusesabagina did good, yes. But is he a hero? No. The heroes were the families who hid their neighbors, the UN-soldiers who desperately tried to get word out to the the rest of the world and get military task forces in, but were ignored and left to see the slaughter with tied hands. The people who risked their own lives to try to save others. The soldiers of the RPF, who were the ones who stopped this madness. Never believe everything you see in a movie without trying to get the full picture.
No... if you are interested in this horrific but engaging chapter of modern history, and wish to know more about the shameful way in which the UN and the rest of the world handled the whole thing, I strongly recommend you to watch some other stuff. Like the best movie made about the Rwandan genocide: "Shooting dogs", which is much more likely to get you to understand the event in a more broad way, as well as give a much more deep emotional experience. "Shake hands with the devil" is a very well made TV-production about one of the true heroes from Rwanda 1994 - Roméo Dallaire. (On which Nolte's character in "Hotel Rwanda" was loosely based). There is also a very good documentary with the same name - "Shake hands with the devil - the journey of Roméo Dallaire". Also, there are some other movies on the topic - of which "Sometimes in April" is the best. I recently saw "Kinyarwanda", which was very good from some aspects.
What do you feel about riots and mass killing? What did you do when you saw these things on news channels? Did you do anything to stop them? All that most of us would do is feel bad about it. And then we would turn off the TV sets, take dinner and go to sleep. The movie shows the attitude of the world when mass killing is being done in Africa in the communal riots between Hutus and Tutsis. The protagonist, "Paul", who is a Hutu himself, is just like one of us for whom his family (which is Tutsi) is the most important. In the beginning he would do anything to save his family and would not even bother about his good neighbour. But slowly as he sees what is going around him he starts to realize. He takes up the responsibility of giving shelter to thousands of refugees in his hotel. He keeps giving bribes to the Tutsis leader. He even speaks to so many influential people around the world. And although he had a lot of difficulties convincing the world powers that they should interrupt, he ends up saving lives of about 1200 people. It is not a feel good movie or anything like that. It is a true story about Survival and Will Power. If you liked Schindler's List, the this may be a notch above but not less. Buy it! http://www.schoolofsymphony.com
For a while now, there have been uprisings in Africa, most of the time,
it is quite violent. In Tears of the Sun starring Bruce Willis, the
problem in Nigeria was put into perspective. It was shown through the
eyes of the US military trying to rescue a couple of select people but
end up bringing back refugees. Hotel Rwanda takes a different path,
shown through the eyes of those under attack.
Hotel Rwanda is based on a true story out of Rwanda, Africa. It is a country gripped by war and oppression. When a four-star hotel is now thrown right into the mix of things, manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) has to make a very important decision. He must decide whether or not to let Tutsi's live in his hotel to take refuge from the Hutu soldiers.
The problem is that the Hutu's, a tribe of Africans in Rwanda, are taking control and want to exterminate the Tutsis, a rival tribe. This hostile take over is one that spreads all over Paul's town. One night over a radio broadcast, the Hutu militia's leader told all of his soldiers to find and eliminate the Tutsis. Now, Paul, his wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo), who is a Tutsi, and their children must stay in the hotel and watch over all of the "new guests". With Paul paying off the leader of the Hutu militia, General Bizimungu, he tries to keep his hotel out of harms way.
When he runs out of ideas and aid from the General and from the United Nations, led by Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte), and the media, he must defend his hotel by finding a way to get those refugees out of there and keep his family safe at the same time. Paul is faced with heart breaking decisions and must stay strong so he doesn't show weakness or give up the Tutsis.
Cheadle's performance is breathtaking. When everything seems to be coming apart and he might lose it, he has to hold it together. Cheadle's character sees things that shouldn't be seen by anyone. So much death and destruction in one area can have an impact on a man. With scenes that are similar to Schindler's List, this movie is powerful and really shows how little people have known about the crisis in Rwanda.
Hotel Rwanda was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Actor (Cheadle), Best Supporting Actress (Okonedo), and Best Original Screenplay. Although it didn't win, the movies message was carried across and brought attention to the devastation in Africa.
Hotel Rwanda is a masterpiece and is one of the most moving films of all time. It leaves nothing behind and shows you everything. It will be looked at for years to come. Hotel Rwanda opens will open your eyes.
**** Don Cheadle, Nick Nolte, Jophie Okonedo, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Desmond
Dube, Joaquin Phoenix. Directed by Terry George.
By far this is one of the best Biopics since Taylor Hackford did "Ray". The story is a Hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle, in his Oscar calibrated performance along with his acting in Assassination of Richard Nixon) keeps Tutsis refuges in his four star Hotel from the Hutu rebels on the outside.
As he risks his life to save the lives of many, with the help of Nick Nolte whom as he helps Paul but also doesn't care. The movie shows that Cheadle is becoming one of our better actors and is rising up through the ranks to somewhere around Paul Giamatti caliber. Terry George the director/ writer with the aid of Keir Pearson do a fantastic job of recreating the havoc of 1994.
"Hotel Rwanda" is beautiful, inspiring and very compelling on Cheadle's performance. This is one of the year's best movies and one of the best I have ever see. Bravo!
Some films hold importance because they shed light on a world that most
of us will never know or comprehend fully. "Hotel Rwanda," the true
story of a hotel manager who saved the lives of 1,268 men, women and
children in Kigali, Rwanda in April of 1994, is the most important film
A decade ago, the African nation of Rwanda became a place of mass genocide. The two dominant tribes, the darker skinned Hutus and lighter skinned Tutsis, began a civil war. After 100 days of fighting and over a million casualties, the U.N. finally interceded.
We follow the story of Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed by the excellent Don Cheadle, who has never troubled himself with the affairs of the people. He is a businessman and manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines, the most luxurious hotel in Rwanda. Over the years, he has become friends with important people by providing cigars and expensive Scotch in meetings with them.
However, Paul's world goes from heaven to hell when the civil war begins. The Hutu militia walks the streets killing any Tutsi they can find, including helpless children. The militia wants to kill every Tutsi to wipe the slate clean of their kind.
Paul himself is a Hutu, but his wife is a Tutsi and his three children are mixed. The welfare of his family is his priority throughout the film. In addition, Paul helps other refugees by housing them in the hotel and bribing the Rwandan army (who has sided with the Hutu militia) with money, beer and other items to protect the hotel.
Some have hailed the film as an African "Schindler's List." This is right in the aspect of a heroic businessman protecting innocent people from their death. However, "Schindler's List" is better-made film because of the unflinching portrayal of the Holocaust and Steven Spielberg's powerful direction.
"Hotel Rwanda's" only major flaw is toning down the violence to make this a family oriented piece. Director Terry George cleaned the image of war up so the film could receive a more commercial PG-13 rating.
Still, even though the violence is not accurately portrayed, the film is simultaneously haunting and heartbreaking. In one scene, Paul and an associate drive down a foggy and unusually bumpy road, only to stop the car and realize they are actually running over hundreds of dead bodies. It's a scene that will stay with you for weeks.
One key factor that makes the film work is Cheadle's performance. It has been nominated for an Academy Award because it is flawless and Cheadle has never been better. We really believe Paul's plight because of Cheadle's perfect Rwandan accent and ability to convey conflicted emotions.
Also worth noting is Sophie Okenedo who plays Paul's wife Tatiana. Okenedo has been doing small television roles for most of her career, but after this film, it wouldn't be surprising to see her more often on the big screen.
Although "Hotel Rwanda" sometimes has an overly sentimental feel to it, it still succeeds in commemorating Paul Rusesabagina and shaming the world for not helping stop man's inhumanity toward man.
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