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Hotel Rwanda

 
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CAM
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PostPosted: Sat 30 Apr, 2005 12:57 pm    Post subject: Hotel Rwanda Reply with quote

My regular companion and I watched Hotel Rwanda last evening. Strangely, I had been looking forward to it, because I had already heard about what hotel manager, Paul Rusesabagina, had done. I enjoyed the film very much. Yes, "enjoyed" is the word I used.

I am going to put the following into a spoiler box. I hope those who don't intend to see the film will read the spoiler, because it is based on a true story. I believe this story is worth telling in many places.

Spoiler (highlight to read):
Hotel Rwanda is a very suspenseful film is about Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu hotel manager with a Tutsi wife, in saving more than 1200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees from being slaughtered during the genocide in 1994. It is a true story about what I might call moral courage -- or perhaps conscience is a better term -- combined with astute political and networking savvy and very skilled negotiation.

The overall depiction of the situation in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 is more or less fair in that it summarizes the organized and deliberate nature of the genocide and depicts the role of the government radio station. The film also depicts the shameful failure of Western countries. It depicts only a very narrow slice of what happened, and does not focus on the moral cowardice and compromise of so many community leaders and church leaders. In another context I heard someone say "Rwanda lost its best people." This is because the best people were killed rather than betray or even themselves superintend the killing of their Tutsi and moderate Hutu neigbours, friends or parishioners including young children and babies.

Some viewers at the premiere in Rwanda said it was a fair depiction of what happened, but others in Rwanda were angry because the film downplayed the "cold blooded precision" of the government-organized killing. Yes, I'm sure it did downplay what happened. It spared the audience a lot. I thought it had a good balance between depicting the details and consideration for the audience, who would never be able to watch anything more graphic. We are not asked to imagine the intimate violence required of so many people to kill nearly a million people deliberately at close hand with a machete. There is only so much of this type of truth one can bear when watching a movie. I do not think the film is appropriate for young children, however, it could be suitable for kids over about 12 or so who express interest . The plot lines involving issues of conscience or moral choice could be lost on younger kids who would be left only with a thin appreciation of horribleness and a happy ending for the main characters.


The accompanying documentaries with interviews of Paul Rusesabagina are also worth watching.

For those who have seen it and want to read more about what happened in Rwanda, I recommend the very readable We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With our Families by Philip Gourevitch, a journalist.

I find it interesting that the lead actor, Don Cheadle, has become involved in human rights work since being part of this film.


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Mats
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PostPosted: Sun 01 May, 2005 12:10 pm    Post subject: Genocide Reply with quote

Any genocide is unfathomnable. Still, I find it easier to see a fellow like Robert McNamara describing (in "Fog of War") how he 'managed' the fire bombing of Japanese cities during the WWII - he wasn't anywhere near the killing ground. The people in Rwanda, however, spent 100 days simply chopping people up, day in and day out. I find this beyond what I can imagine.


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CAM
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PostPosted: Mon 02 May, 2005 12:21 am    Post subject: Re: Genocide Reply with quote

MEF wrote:
Any genocide is unfathomnable. Still, I find it easier to see a fellow like Robert McNamara describing (in "Fog of War") how he 'managed' the fire bombing of Japanese cities during the WWII - he wasn't anywhere near the killing ground. The people in Rwanda, however, spent 100 days simply chopping people up, day in and day out. I find this beyond what I can imagine.


Yes, people should not be able to imagine such violence.

And a lot easier to give orders like McNamara. Or press buttons like pilots. (and later to defend, deny, minimize responsibility) Somehow your comment reminded me of the following piece written by Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Ananda (a well known Muslim peace scholar/activist in Thailand) who wrote the following about the need to delegimitize violence in our own spheres of influence: http://www.transnational.org/forum/meet/2004/Satha-Anand_Thailandpeace.html
.


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PostPosted: Tue 03 May, 2005 11:39 am    Post subject: One tough read Reply with quote

That is one tough read CAM. Relevant and interesting but hard to face such demonic evil.


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CAM
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PostPosted: Tue 03 May, 2005 7:24 pm    Post subject: Re: One tough read Reply with quote

MEF wrote:
That is one tough read CAM. Relevant and interesting but hard to face such demonic evil.


I really like Dr. Chaiwat's stuff. Realistic, challenging. He is part of the Islamic minority in Thailand -- quite difficult, partciularly as a peace and nonviolence scholar and activist. In general, his stuff is inspiring and hopeful, not to mention scholarly. But accessible. I like his challenge to religious people to work on delegitimizing violence among their own co-religionists. Or is that in another article?

I found the story of Paul in Rwanda to be most inspiring, mainly because he is not a fictional character.


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PostPosted: Thu 12 May, 2005 7:26 am    Post subject: Had A Look Reply with quote

Against my better judgement, I had a look a "Hotel Rwanda". I agree that it is certainly well done with a good cast (except Nick Nolte as D'Allaire). Still,
Spoiler (highlight to read):
as the slaughter started,
I found it just too much for my tender little heart to take.


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