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Reviews Comments: Definitely Oscar Material Hotel Rwanda film/book review by Absent

Hotel Rwanda is a 2002 film that dramatizes the actions of Paul Russeaubagina during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide as he outwits, bribes, and does everything in his power to save over 1200 refugees and his family. That's this movie in a nutshell. It stays remarkably close to what actually happened, and spans the entire timeline of the genocide over its 100 day duration.

It is a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted drama and takes very few liberties with its subject matter. Of course, it doesn't need to. Usually when we use the word "dramatised", the implication is that drama has been applied to make the subject matter more interactive and digestible for the audiences. In this case, the reality is rather the opposite. If the filmmakers had shown the full landscape of the Rwanda Genocide, this film would have been politically charged, and more violent than most Hollywood slashers. However, instead of indulging in all the shocked outrage that such a subject inspires, the filmmakers were quite clever. They didn't show the War Rape, the mutilations, the torture and the massacres. They showed the dead bodies and the grief, the machetes and the gunfire; they implied and were subtle. By focusing on Paul's story and key aspects of the genocide in a single locale, they didn't need to show much to slowly reveal the vast extent of the horror that occurred.

A Tear Jerker? Yes. Definitely. It is a very 'real' movie. No special effects, no melodramatic dialogue. Just normal human beings shoved into alien chaos, some reaching out to others to save them, and others reaching out with a machete. There is a tangibility to the familial connections, the bonds of friendship, the way people desperately rely on one another... and the depth of betrayal people can sink to. This film shows human barbarism in the actions of the Hutu extremists, and the inaction of the UN who send no help to intervene, actively withdrawing their troops. The revelation of the horrible hypocrisy of the Western world and their inability to care is shown to be almost as a contributing factor to a million deaths as a radio station advocating slaughter. This movie asks a very simple question in the end: have we learned to stop genocide?

...Not really.

This is a very, very good movie, and well worth seeing. Like "Schindler's List" it is a tale of human decency in Hell.


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