Check out ‘Hotel Rwanda’
“Hotel Rwanda,” like “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Schindler’s List,” falls into the category of movies that aren’t pleasant but are necessary to watch.And it’s well done.Director Terry George focuses on the story of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a hotel manager who saved 1,200 people from massacre by housing them.More than a million people died in 1994, when members of the Hutu tribe killed members of the Tutsi tribe in what they believed to be retribution.Though Rusesabagina is a Hutu and therefore safe, his wife and children are Tutsi. As a hotel manager, he has mastered the art of bribery and under-the-table negotiation, and when violence overtakes the land, he calls in favors that don’t necessary come through.As murders escalate, the United Nations decides not to send more troops, leaving the locals to fend for themselves. One of the most intense moments (though there are a lot) comes when a United Nations Colonel (Nick Nolte) tells Rusesabagina that he doesn’t matter because he’s black. George directs the scene with precision, depicting how emotionally torn up the Colonel truly is; his candid words, though politically incorrect and disgusting, show his personal deep respect and mourning for Rusesabagina and all natives.Nolte’s character loosely revolves around Roméo Dallaire, a Canadian commanding officer of the Peacekeeping mission who attempted to stop Rwandan violence, but “Hotel Rwanda” doesn’t fictionalize any other characters.
“Hotel Rwanda” is one of those movies that haunt you with desperation and emotion. I can’t imagine walking out of the theater without feeling a heavy weight.I purposefully balanced it by immediately watching “Pooh’s Heffalump Adventure.” But when I came up with such a plan, I had no idea how appropriate the two films would be to watch back to back.In no way do I mean to poke fun at or diminish the profound subject of “Hotel Rwanda.” I just couldn’t help but think about writing an essay comparing and contrasting “Pooh” with “Hotel Rwanda.” Both involve fearing and therefore hating and wanting to capture others unlike ourselves.Pooh’s characters, of course, learn to befriend the “enemy.” “Hotel Rwanda” involves destroying the enemy.I’m not saying we can take a Pollyannaish viewpoint and just bounce happily along and eat honey, but I am saying that dropping preconceived notions and even past harms can help prevent a world full of pain, and it starts in our own backyards. Because after all, the massacres in “Hotel Rwanda” took place in backyards.Now the movie is in our backyard, and we have a choice whether we’ll turn our back on the pain like UN officials did – or face it.
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