Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Featuring||Don Cheadle, Djimon Hounsou, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Sophie Okonedo|
|Producer||A Kitman Ho, Terry George|
United Artists Releasing, a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
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.