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Just over ten years ago, Rwanda, a former Belgian colony the size of
Vermont, became a horrific killing field, the result of ethnic, social,
and political hatred between the majority Hutus and the rival Tutsis,
the former ruling elite who ran the country for the Belgians and
treated the Hutu as second class citizens. The Washington Post reported
"how the heads and limbs of victims were sorted and piled neatly, a
bone-chilling order in the midst of chaos that harked back to the
Holocaust." The massacre that claimed over one million lives was
triggered by the still unsolved assassination of Hutu President Juvenal
Habyarimana, whose plane was gunned down by missiles on his return from
a conference in Dar-es Salam. Senior Hutu leaders used the downing of
the plane as an excuse to exterminate Tutsis and moderate Hutus. While
the UN maintained a peacekeeping presence they did not intervene, nor
did the U.S., France, Belgium or other Western powers who had the power
to stop it.
In the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda, the atrocity is dramatized through the story of the determination of one man who sheltered over 1000 Tutsis including his wife (Sophie Okenado), a Tutsi woman, and his children. Don Cheadle portrays hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in a towering performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Rusesabagina, who served as an adviser to the film, managed the Belgian-owned Hotel Mille Collines in the city of Kigali, a luxury hotel where UN dignitaries socialized with Western diplomats and media. As homes are invaded and bodies pile up, people are forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in churches, schools, and in this case the luxury hotel.
As the sounds of fighting outside increase, the White guests are forced to leave and the remaining Africans are left to defend themselves with the token aid of the UN peacekeeping force, led by Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte), who is faced with an insurmountable task. With supplies of food and water diminishing and the violence increasing, Paul pleads with his guests to telephone the outside world in a plea for help but with scant results. The comment by an American journalist about the value of airing a segment explicitly showing Hutus hacking Tutsi civilians puts it into perspective: "They will go 'O God, that's horrible!' and then go back to eating their dinner."
Hotel Rwanda allows us to see the conflict in human rather than political terms and Paul's loving relationship with his family is believable and deeply affecting. Though scenes of gory violence are kept to a minimum earning the film a PG-13 rating, the scene showing Paul and his assistant Gregoire driving through fog and discovering hundreds of bodies of slaughtered innocents lying on the road, stands out for its understated horror. Though not justifying the massacre, more historical background would have been helpful such as knowing the role of the Belgian colonial authority in fomenting ethnic division in the country, and the 1990 invasion of Rwanda by the exiled Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front with the support of the Americans and the British. While Hotel Rwanda may fall short of greatness, it is nonetheless a moving and powerful film, an unflinching indictment of the political extremism that fed the turmoil, the indifference of self-satisfied Western nations, and the courage and tenacity of one man who made a difference.
As governments around the world ignore the atrocities against the
Sudanese in Darfur, this movie should have you screaming for something
to be done to save them! 'The Hotel Rwanda' should be seen by all, and
forgotten by none.
'The Hotel Rwanda' is a familiar favorite among Best Picture contenders, more than humbling an audience with biographical tales of heroic struggles against disgusting atrocities. 'The Pianist' and 'Schindler's List' are more recent examples of this. But, with 'The Hotel Rwanda,' the intensity delivered by director Terry George and the powerful performance by Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina, this film was able to put the shock into people in a much more disturbing and intense way than I had ever seen any other movie do and leaves you silent and just as helpless long after you've left the theater.
The Hotel Rwanda refers to the Belgium hotel that, under Rusesabagina's unexpected direction, served as a refugee camp for the Tutsi people who were being wiped out by Hutsi rebels in Rwanda. On the one hand, this movie shows you the kind of atrocities that could result if one faction controlled the media (the Hutsi's here controlled the radio waves and incited their violence and recruited their followers through a propaganda radio program). On the other hand, Rusesabagina is such an extraordinary heroic figure where he tried desperately to save people from the slaughter when it seems that every government that could help denied assistance to the Rwandas. Even where journalists were able to enter the country before the worst fighting began and report the massacre. We ought to be made aware of these things, and we should never ignore them, and never forget them.
I am still amazed by the powerful emotion that this movie is able to invoke, to nearly lose your mind in desperation when it seems like there is going to be no hope left for Paul, his family, or the Rwandan refugees. To become nearly violent when anger when you their holocaust, but the other countries refuse to help.
And, actress Sophie Okonedo, who plays Tatiana Rusesabagina, likewise gives an incredible performance as Paul's wife.
This IS the Best Picture of 2004.
I almost didn't go see this movie. It's so hard for me to sit through things like this. It is very, very good, but you can only see it once if you have a heart or a soul. You can only go through the experience one time because you can't do it again, at least I can't. Don Cheadle was exceptional. Nick Nolte and Jaoquin Phoenix had very difficult roles. I was also happy to see Jean Reno has the hotel president. The good people anguished and the bad people schemed. The woman who played Don Cheadle's wife was also very good I really felt her fear. I agree with the critics that this movie had a message without being preachy. It should teach us a lesson, but I know the world won't listen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is no doubt that Hotel Rwanda is a brilliant and uplifting story;
showing that what we (South) Africans call Ubuntu; caring for each
other and assisting in anyway possible simply because we are all human
and it is our fellow humans that make us who we are . I always liked
Don Cheadle but his performance in Hotel Rwanda made it clear that he's
one of the most underrated actors - The Brother is Brilliant! His
performance in the movie is outstanding to say the least. He literally
carries the movie on his shoulders. Sophie Okonedo (Cheadle's wife in
the movie) gives a great performance. Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix
are also brilliant. There some brilliant visual moment in the movie,
for instance when the UN trucks are ambushed when trying to transport
Tutsi refugees for the time and when the military rescues the trucks
the second time the mission is taken. There are brilliant shots and
However, I have a couple of concerns (to put it mildly) Well, I appreciate that I do not know or understand the reasons for the director and producer's decision to do and use methods that I'm about to question. However, as junior director in SA who hopes to be able to tell African stories to the world at some point, I'm very concerned. Firstly, the story is based in Rwanda however, South Africans make up what appears at least 70% of the cast that has dialogue/lines in the movie. This is of course great for Our industry as Our actors are getting exposure and experience. The problem however, is that they have South African accents when they are supposed to be Rwandan; Fana Mokoena (although his performance was great,) only remembered to have an accent towards the end of the movie - same goes for Desmond Dube! Yes an accent might not be a big deal but language is an important issue; it helps the local audience identify with the characters and gives the characters a sense of originality. Yes, the international audience might not be as aware of the differences between a South African and a Rwandan accent but South Africans and Rwandan's know and I feel that it is not fair to them (Rwandans). I don't understand why they couldn't use Rwandan actors….
There are one too many mistakes that again ruin the sense of originality, such as the use of English; it's used way too much! Yes this was made for an international audience but speaking from a Black South African's point of view whose first language is not English, there are times when you don't use it: when you've just been rescued from death by someone who understands your language, you'll thank them in that language! Especially with relatively old extras - I know for a fact that those in rural areas don't speak English to you if can understand their language they are more concerned about preserving languages that are being taken over by Western languages
What got me annoyed is that there's a scene featuring a red taxi in front of The Hotel and the taxi has a big yellow Alexandra (Johannesburg, SA) Taxi Association sticker on one of the windows - so what, do Rwandans have Alex taxis, we just didn't know about it?! What got me fuming are the names of the children displayed on boards at a refugee camp; Thabo, Buhle, etc. For crying out loud these are South African names! Again, someone from Canada might not know the difference but what does this imply to Rwandan's; that yes, this amazing story will be told but they'll be watered down as much as possible?!
This annoys me because I believe that if one is to tell a story about a people, one has to do it right; in every sense of the word. What is the point of saying one is telling a South African Story then bring a whole American cast and props? I felt that I had to make an effort to convince myself that the story is based in Rwanda when watching the film because there are so many things that suggest otherwise. I guess this is another important sign (as in Amandla) that if we as Africans want our stories told and portrayed as real and true as possible, we have to do it ourselves.
Having stated my concerns, I still say big ups to Terry George and the whole production team for telling this amazing story. And, absolutely Don Rocks!
Asania Nkate Aphane Jozi
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I became angry at some users that had written comments. I just wanna
ask - are U stupid and blind??? Why did You call this film garbage???
I saw "Sometimes in April" and "Shooting Dogs"... All of these films are about the same event, but bare different sides of this event. It's a shame to compare them!!! Why do U call it second "Schindler's List"? Methinks, it is the first "Hotel Rwanda".
I saw no propaganda in this film.
The acting mostly was great. Don Cheadle didn't win Academy Award for Best Actor because Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles was perfect!
There are a lot of things that I can say, but still everyone has his own opinion, I agree with that, but those who put this film 4 or less, your opinion is stupid!
So all haters and envious persons take your hands off of the film!!!
This movie is poetry in motion. Creative movie making at it's best. You
cannot fault even the minutest aspect of this movie. So perfect is this
movie in all respects. Don Cheadle does full justice to his role and
his acting is superb. Every frame of this movie is gripping with
suspense and thrill as to what fate awaits the helpless victims of the
mindless genocide. Once you begin watching this movie it is hard to
stop it halfway , and throughout the movie the edge of the seat
suspense is maintained.
But above all this movie is a triumph of the indefatigable human spirit, a triumph of good over evil, and a triumph of sanity in an atmosphere of madness. All of this is represented in that one man , Paul Rusesabagina. Throughout this movie this man grips our attention. When he cries we cry with him, when he laughs we laugh with him when he worries we worry too. In my opinion, very few movies can lay claim to this rare distinction. There are quite a few very violent and disturbing scenes but when the truth is stranger than fiction, there is no other alternative but to bare that. This movie is based on truth and the truth is quite shocking. It is enough to jolt a man from his nonchalance and stupor. In this context , it is shocking to see how the entire world watched this gruesome drama without lifting a finger to help. The helplessness of the UN , the shocking cowardice of the super powers and above all the failure of entire humanity itself is very movingly shown.
But again in this depressing backdrop, the courage of this one man Paul Rusesabagina , his cleverness, his resourcefulness and above all his humaneness contrasts sharply and shouts aloud the message : That the whole world is one , that what a difference a few good men can make. And this voice of sanity will ring loud and clear and cannot be drowned out in the din and stench of the voices of madness.
I can write an entire book of praises for this movie and all its aspects and still that wont be enough. I don't want to dissect this movie and kill its charms. But just one line will suffice : A thoroughly watchable movie!!
It's amazing. This is one of the best movies I ever seen.
Actually,I had some background about the genocide of the country before watching it so I thought it made me feel like I was really in the movie and it was so touchy.
I wanna recommend any who wants to explore the movie to get some little info about this genocide beforehand. Then you will have clearer picture when you see the movie and with the fact you will understand how much terrible situation happened there. As a human being, you would never thought about this violence to be occur in our real world and it had just happened not more than 20 years ago. I cried and and due to unexpected scene I had my mouth opened many times.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an excellent film, about a real, live hero. It could have gone
over the edge into a really bad snuff movie - but it balances out the
history with the story, so that you look away, but you look back.
The Joachim Phoenix character - the journalist - pretty much epitomises the 'western' journey through the story - from 'so what is the story, anyways?' to 'how the hell did *I* end up *here*' to 'okay - so why has this never happened to my family? and how do I guarantee it won't?'
And there are no easy answers. Not one.
The saddest thing about this movie? I've read one review, by someone I respected right up until that moment, saying - and this is a paraphrase - 'well, but it's not like the holocaust happened again, because, you know, 'never again' meant 'worthwhile people', and didn't refer, in any way, to, well... Africans'.
And this was someone who'd watched the film, and really believed they respected the message behind it - but, hey, Schindler's list had all of that, *and* like, a *white* star...
Okay - so maybe that's not the saddest thing about the whole film, but it sure made me cry.
Came as a huge shock to me, I have to say...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow. Do you want to go to a movie theatre and cry like a little baby? Well, then you should have gone to see Hotel Rwanda when it was still in theatres. Now, you'll just have to Kleenex it by yourself at home. I really wasn't expecting to cry at this movie because I hardly ever do cry at movies, but this was a completely emotionally draining experience. There are some instances (when Paul Rusesabagina rips off his shirt after riding over a sea of dead bodies in the hotel van, for example) that, while they may well have happened in real life, come off as cheesy and over-dramatic. All in all, though, it is supremely acted, well-cast, and disturbingly beautiful. I had the extreme pleasure of going to hear Paul Rusesabagina speak when he came to Eckerd College. He's a very nice man, and a good representation of humanity.
One of the better movies I've seen in a long time. This movie and "Lord of War" make nice bookends on the some crises in Africa that are ignored by the West. Although one would think that it would have something of a documentary or "victim's movie" feel it is also very entertaining, and you can take your eyes off of the screen once you start. This is one movie that Hollywood and the filmmakers of the world do deserve applause for, the main character, who is a real person- Paul Rusesabagina, who is a real world who is hero without weapons. The movie also did a good job in showing the plight of the UN Soldiers, who are often painted as unfeeling robots when in fact they do very much care about the refugees they are trying to protect and save. More movies like this need to be made.
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