the "Hotel Rwanda" is can be argued, but what cannot be dismissed is
the power of this two hour movie about how one man can make a difference.
"Hotel Rwanda" a story about internal, contrived politics destroying
a country? Or it is dealing with how those in wealthier, more established countries
prefer to pretend such trouble does not exist, that they need not become involved?
it about two very similar people groups killing each other? Could the movie be
a reminder of how the systemic killing of a people group can happen today, that
the evil of the Jewish Holocaust is not unique to the 1940s?
first glance, "Hotel Rwanda" might look like a condemnation against
the West's unwillingness to respond to an absolute carnage of genocidal hate.
For some, they might see Bill Clinton, or the United Nations as impotent figures
in this tragedy of humanity. They are easy figures to pick on, depending on the
audience's personal politics, and the fact of who was in office at the time.
me, the tremendous strength of the movie was one man's valor, of hotel manager's
Paul Rusesabagina humble commitment to do the right thing, even though the world
around him was chaotically destroying itself.
plot is simple: two of Rwanda's people groups, the Hutus and Tutsis, are killing
each other. Mostly, it was Hutu extremists trying to exterminate the Tutsis. A
hotel becomes an ad hoc refugee camp, deftly managed by a man who preferred to
be anywhere else. Can the hotel remain safe? Will the people hiding there survive?
Cheadle, perhaps best known for his portrayal as Sammy Davis Jr. in 1998's "The
Rat Pack," is hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina.
was just a businessman, the manager of the Belgian-owned Mille Collines, a top
hotel in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. He worked hard to raise his family, and tried
to keep politically neutral. When he saw neighbors killed, he kept his head low.
When he brings in neighbors to be sheltered in the hotel, he still fights to retain
his neutrality. However, when refugees start coming to the hotel by the dozens,
he begins a new mission as the shepherd of a displaced people.
bulk of the movie is shot within the hotel. Rusesabagina struggles to manage the
appearance of a top quality hotel, since this image helps gird them against attacks.
Bribes of money and liquor provide him with more protection, as do desperate calls
from some 'guests' to their powerful connections outside of Rwanda.
the camera takes us outside, we see awful scenes of gang-style killings. Although
the Hutus and Tutsis aren't Bloods, Crips, Vice Lords or Latin Kings, but instead,
are arbitrarily designated cultural groups, the murders are the same. Just as
in any Chicago, New York or Los Angeles gangland war, the precise reasons for
the constant violence are loosely based on dictatorial leadership, bigotry and
the scenes which sank my heart is impossible. Singularly difficult to watch was
the body-strewn road where Rusesabagina was driving.
Rwanda" is not a movie to bring a young family. Like "The Passion of
the Christ" and "Schindler's List," it has the kind of violence
which is shown to remind us of the reality of the events being presented. Like
in those movies, the audience I sat with sat stunned while the final credits rolled.
"Schindler's List," the antihero's commitment is the redemption of the
story. Although 1 million "corpses were left behind," we see that although
many men succumb to evil, not all do. Just as Oskar Schindler could not save every
Jew, nor could Paul Rusesabagina save every Rwandan. But, just as Schindler helped
a few, Rusesabagina also protected those he could.
Terry George might have chosen to dwell on what wasn't happening, and make this
a political movie ala Michael Moore. He took the higher road, and tells a story
of hope in the middle of a holocaust. I fully recommend "Hotel Rwanda."
If the movie impacts you, please consider supporting relief efforts that continue
in Kigali today.