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In the end of 1993, the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire is assigned to lead the United Nation troops in Rwanda. In 1994, when the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus begins, General Dallaire gives his best effort to help the people in Rwanda, inclusive negotiating with the Tutsi rebels, the Hutu army and the Interhamwe militia. However, he fights against bureaucracy and lack of interest from the United Nations and witnesses the West World ignoring and turning back any sort of support, inclusive USA opposing in the security council of UN to any type of help. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Important docudrama of UNAMIR's fateful mission in Rwanda
I had read Dallaire's book a while back, and when I heard that there was a project to put it to film, I was very eager to see the results. Ever since I had seen "Hotel Rwanda", in which the CO of UNAMIR was a fictional character (played by Nick Nolte), I was hoping for a movie in which the real UNAMIR commander would be portrayed.
I wasn't disappointed. This film is a docu-drama that follows the events and the telling of Dallaire's book. No side stories here. Just the facts. The screen writing stuck to the book, as best as it could. Most deviations would be mistakes in interpretation, not artistic licenses. Dallaire, who had been lobbying for the film to be made for a long time, has explained that the producers have toyed with the idea of going to Hollywood to have it produced there. The upside was that the production could have enjoyed a bigger budget, but the idea was dropped because there was too big of a chance that Hollywood would have altered the story.
So the film's premise is very good to start with. The result is also very god. The the film is brilliantly made and directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Roméo Dallaire's character is very well played by Roy Dupuis, especially the scenes with the therapist. The cinematography is high quality, and some scenes are simply breathtaking (it actually makes me want to visit). The score is also of high caliber.
But the movie does have weaknesses.
It's a little too toned down. I know for having read about and seen documentaries about these events, that they were far worse than what is (could be) shown in the film. I understand that it was a delicate matter since the reality was very hard and could have steered away potential viewers. Apart from the church scene, everywhere else you are presented with toned down scenes. The reality was 10 times as big (numerous), much, much bloodier and much more akin' to a carnage. Dallaire and the other UNAMIR characters are pretty clean throughout the film. In reality, they were constantly bloodied. Don't get me wrong: I'm not seeking kicks or anything. I simply feel that the true appalling atmosphere is just not there, and that's unfair.
The civil war is not present. Although it is mentioned, and you realize that Kagame's RFP eventually wins it, the war is mostly absent from the movie. The facts are that UNAMIR operated amid civil war battles, that contributed greatly to its inefficiency. We are told that including battle scenes in the movie would have been too costly for the budget, and that the permissions from Rwanda's authorities were hard to get. Nevertheless, it's an important dimension to the story, and it's profoundly missing from the resulting atmosphere.
Some lines are just dead wrong. When asked by the CNN reporter why UNAMIR wasn't intervening to stop the carnage, Dallaire replies that he would be court martialed if he did. Although it might be the case, I understand that the real Dallaire hasn't - and would never have said anything like that. According to him, a commanding officer would never allude to the possibility of being brought up on charges, to explain his decisions and his actions.
The mission's NY headquarters. Repeatedly, Roméo Dallaire has mentioned that the film isn't true to what the mission's NY headquarters really lived . Maurice Baril, Kofie Annan (and I forget who the third member of what Dallaire called "the triumvirat", was) were much, much more stressed out than what is depicted in the movie.
The Belgian's departure. Although Dallaire was very grateful for the presence of the Belgian's paratroops among UNAMIR, he eventually grew a severe hatred for them when they left the mission, barely 2 weeks after the start of the genocide, leaving Dallaire more short staffed when he actually needed more troops. This doesn't transpire in the film. At all.
All in all, a very good film, with a good disposition for educating the people about UNAMIR's and UN's points of views during the rwandeese genocide of 1994. This was one of Roméo Dallaire's biggest wish. Now, I just hope that this movie is going to be well distributed across the world, so that everyone can have access to it, and hence fulfill it's destiny.
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