Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Hotel Rwanda

MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for violence, disturbing images and brief strong language

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
2 hr. 1 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
late 2004—with wider release in early 2005
Featuring: Don Cheadle, Djimon Hounsou, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Sophie Okonedo
Director: Terry George
Producer: A Kitman Ho, Terry George
Distributor: United Artists
Copyright © 2005 MGM. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2005 MGM. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2005 MGM. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2005 MGM. All Rights Reserved
Relevant Issues
Copyright © 2005 MGM. All Rights Reserved

Persecution in Sudan



Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is?

Why are humans selfish and sinful? Answer

Do Not Enter
Forbidden Area
Keep Out

Another Interview with God

When the world closed its eyes, he opened his arms.

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Ten years ago, some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind took place in the country of Rwanda; and in an era of high-speed communication and round-the-clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. In only three months, almost 1 million people were brutally murdered. In the face of these unspeakable actions, inspired by his love for his family, an ordinary man summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages.” Based on a true story.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

The recent devastation caused by the tsunami in Southeast Asia has brought attention to an otherwise rather ignored region of the world. Aid is coming from everywhere, and it really is amazing to see what can be done when people around the world decide to pitch in and help. It is, after all, fulfilling one of Jesus’ great commands, which says that whatever we do for the least of the people, we do unto Him. At this point in the history of humanity at least, we hope God is pleased with what He is seeing.

As I sat through Terry George’s haunting new film “Hotel Rwanda”, I could not help but be appalled by the lack of interest displayed by the rest of the world during the horrid plight of the citizens of Rwanda. The film shows the horrors of the civil war in Rwanda, between the ruling Hutus and the rebel Tutsis, and the lack of support received from the outside for the people caught in the middle.

The film tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, who was the manager of a high class hotel which catered to many foreign clients. As the film opens, the president of Rwanda, a Hutu, has signed a peace agreement with the Tutsi’s that will presumably mean the end of unrest in the region. Shortly after signing the treaty, however, he is assassinated by Tutsi rebels, sparking an uprising throughout the country. The Hutu police call for death to all Tutsi’s in the country, and the massacre begins.

The world inside Paul’s hotel is quite different. While there may be horrendous fighting outside the walls, he attempts to maintain the dignity of the hotel by treating everything as normal. Things begin to change when refugees pour in from the surrounding areas, and Paul is forced to house them, at least until the U.N. can come to the rescue.

Paul’s main concern is for his family; his wife is a Tutsi, and he must go to great lengths simply to keep her with him. Unbeknownst to Paul, the U.N. has given specific orders not to interfere with the war, and to simply act as a transportation device for those lucky citizens allowed to leave the country. Paul is forced to leave the hotel to pick up supplies, and it is only after he sees the corpses that litter the roads that he realizes the enormity of the situation. Suddenly, he seems to realize that simply saving his family will not be enough, and garners the strength to attempt to lead the civilians to safety.

Don Cheadle is absolutely remarkable as Rusesabagina. There have been some great performances this year, but none have the power and importance of this one. Rusesabagina’s story is one that must be told to the world, and Cheadle is certainly worthy of that great task. Paul doesn’t start out a hero, and doesn’t even seem to want to be one. As time passes though, he has the task thrust on him, and rises to the occasion.

Profanity is present in the film, and while there isn’t a great deal of it, it is strong a few times. There is one use of the F-word, and a few G*D uses. There is no sex, but brief nudity is present as we see female civilians locked up in a barb wire cage. The violence is probably less than one would expect from a film like this, but the brief flashes of it, as well as the subject material itself make for harrowing viewing. Having said this, the film should not be seen by young children, but perhaps should be required viewing for anyone over 13.

It’s frustrating to know that things like this go on all the time, and so many people turn a blind eye to it. Paul asks a cameraman (Joaquin Phoenix), who is filming the disaster, why he thinks no one will come to Rwanda’s aid. He says that Americans will say “Oh my God, that’s horrible” and go on eating their dinners. Sadly, we all know this is too often true. Obviously it is difficult for average Americans to do a whole lot, but knowing that our government has turned a blind eye to things like this for years, unless it will somehow benefit our country, kind of makes me sick. As average Americans, the least we can do is pray for the people whose plight in life has thrown them into horrible situations like this.

“Hotel Rwanda” is quite simply (in my opinion) the best movie you could see this year and is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It won’t entertain like other films you could go out and see, but if you can take it all in, “Hotel Rwanda” will be a film that will stay with you for a long time to come.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—My husband and I recently watched “Hotel Rwanda,” and we both agree it is a must-see film. As the reviewer wrote, it isn’t entertaining, but it is definitely thought provoking. How could the world turn it’s head on 1,000,000 people? The film caused me to think hard about the idea of laying my life down for another person. As a Christian nation, if, indeed, we can truly call ourselves one today, do we act militarily to save the lives of others in a war torn country or do we sit back and do nothing? Did the Lord mean us to sacrifice ourselves individually or collectively as a nation? The film left me wondering what I could do to help.

I think that a truely great movie, and book too, forces us to think beyond business as normal, to question long held opinions, and experience a situation through the eyes of another; Hotel Rwanda does just this. I would like to see more films of this quality.
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—Caroline Mooney, age 40
Positive—My husband and I saw this movie, it is a “We must never forget” legacy. I have a student in our private school who is now 18, but was a 7 year old boy and lived through “Hotel Rawanda.” I had him share his story, he was one of the 1200 survivors, all his immediate family was saved. He still remembers the bodies and their escape.

His testimony drew a very quiet audience of his peers, listening intently to his every word. The American kids were astounded to hear the story, and were encouraged to see the movie. The question was asked, “Why did the world turn their heard when 800,000 people were killed?”
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—Micky Gordon, age 47
Positive—Remembering the days of this atrocity, I must admit that I was not sure just what to expect. It could have been pure Hollywood sensationalism, but it was not. In fact, I was very surprised that the horror of what happened was as sedate as it was. Apart from the few scenes in which human carnage was spelled out in rather graphic detail, much of what must have happened was more suggested than actually portrayed. The key roles were very sensitively played and hence extremely believable. The few objectionable terms could conceivably have been ommitted but in light of the milieu in which they were uttered, at least carried with them a sense of the reality of the time. The most disturbing “news” that the film conveyed was that of the complete abandonment of the Tutsi people by all the other nations of the world. For they were, after all, just “Africans” and no needed natural resources were at stake to go in and fight for. What a sad commentary in terms of the supposed “Christian” nations of the world. Overall, the film was extremely well done and its message must not be missed.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Rev. Jim Duval, age 62
Positive—My husband and I just saw this incredible movie this afternoon. As soon as we walked out in the lobby, I let out a sob that lasted until we got to the parking lot. I was so ashamed that we didn’t pay attention to this atrocity. The world ignored it! I ignored it. I can honestly say seeing this movie will have a profound, lifelong effect on me.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/5
—Sheila, age 39
Positive—Absolutely amazing story. Instantly one of my favorite movies of all time. This movie will break your heart, but it is one of those movies that is a “must see.”
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—Kevin Norman, age 30
Positive—My 18 year old son and I viewed the film. It is riveting, horrifying, inspiring and everything the reviewers say. Not for the weak and tender, it is a true picture of the atrocities that occurred. We only hope it raises awareness about similar atrocities happening right now in Sudan.
My Ratings: Excellent/4
—Debbie McKee, age 42
Positive—My husband and I just saw this incredible movie this afternoon. As soon as we walked out in the lobby, I let out a sob that lasted until we got to the parking lot. I was so ashamed that we didn’t pay attention to this atrocity. The world ignored it! I ignored it. I can honestly say seeing this movie will have a profound, lifelong effect on me.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/5
—Sheila, age 39
Positive—This is, undoubtably, one of the best movies of the year. Don Cheadle’s performance was riveting. Viewing all of the tsumani images was devastating, over 160,000 dead. But realizing that nearly 1 million people were murdered, one by agonizing one, in Rwanda over the course of 100 days… It is mind-boggling. Hotel Rwanda is a must-see movie.
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—Harriet Jackson, age 52
Positive—This is by far the best move I’ve seen in years. This film shows the bowels of the world. A great performance by Cheadle. Where was the world community?
My Ratings: Good/5
—Robert Kelly, age 48
Positive—A powerful, moving film about a recent genocide in Africa. Your heart is broken when you see the awful consequences of sin in our world. This movie depicts a deep-seated racism that was actually created by outside influences. You greatly admire the courage of Paul Rusesabagina as he comes to grip with the plight of the Tutsis (his own wife being one) and also of the Hutus who came to his hotel for sanctuary. Prominently displayed is a cross worn by his Paul’s which, I believe, shows a quiet testament to her faith in God to take the family through the struggles and fears of this awful civil war. Though there were some instances of foul language in this film, it was not pervasive.

This film should move all of us to consider the lives of persons in other nations whom God so dearly loves and remind us to keep them in prayer—as the reviewer of the film has suggested. This genocide should never have happened. I weep that help did not come before a million people were slaughtered. The same is happening in the Sudan. I hope this film reminds us as Christians of our obligation to cry out for those who have no voice. And, very importantly, to stay informed and pray. I recommend this film to mature teenagers and all adults.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Carol V., age 58
Positive—I was deeply horrified after viewing this film. I am fully aware of how Satan works. We are in spiritual warfare—bigger than Iraq!
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—Dana Allbritton, age 32
Positive—We were watching this film with pals. One thing I noticed was that we were sitting silently. We were just waiting what is going to happen next. There was a feeling of suspense throughout the movie. Like so many others, I also got the urge to do something concrete to help peoples in need. I think that the hotel manager is a true hero, and there aren’t many of those who had done the same. Although he was afraid and was first only thinking of his family, he finally understood that his family is those people near to him.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jere, age 27 (Finland)


Comments from young people
Positive—This film must be viewed by everyone. It is heartbreaking to comprehend that this only happened 10 years ago, and many of us stood by and did nothing. Just shows the lack of duty man feels to another man. …This film portrayed how each one of us is capable of making such a difference. Open your eyes world, see what is going on. And help. An amazing film, will be a classic.
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—Becca, age 14
Positive—This is a great movie, but it is very heavy and depressing. I wouldn’t recommend it to any children. The only negative thing in this movie was the language, but it’s probably no more than you would hear at school every day.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Taylor Telenick, age 14
Positive—I went to Kabale, Uganda (about 80 mi. from where this took place) on a missions trip in summer of ’04. The people and places are dead-on. The story is heart-wrenching. Not the most cheerful movie I’ve ever seen, but could easily be the best I’ve ever seen.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Luke Boone, age 17
Movie Critics
…One of the year’s best…
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post
…a calm, riveting ground-zero look at a terrible slice of history…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…Cheadle is great in anything and wrings the drama out of this uneven movie…
—E! Online
…moving and powerful…
—Claudia Puig, USA Today