The Rwandan Genocide is one of the “hidden” genocides known to the public. Prior to the filming of “Hotel Rwanda”, the genocide was not commonly discussed in the Western world. This sample essay focuses on the tensions found in the film and explores the ethnic, religious, and political conflicts present in story.
The atrocity of genocide is unearthed and unveiled in Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager bent on rescuing the citizens from the horror and panic. The sheer drama of Hotel Rwanda is not so much what we see, but what we don’t as it relates to genocide. The Rwandan genocide, which occurred in 1994, was an historical incident not solely for the amount of individuals who were massacred but for the widespread aspect of the speed at which the violence took place.
The main themes that unravel throughout the film regard politics and survival. The tension between both the Hutu and Tutsi people are what lead to the war that took place in the country and hence, the elements of bribery and corruption are quite frequent. The director of the movie, Terry George, leaves much to the viewer’s imagination as the blood is minimal in Hotel Rwanda. That does not necessarily mean that it is not present. The first glimpse of this is when Paul arrives home and is greeted by his fellow citizens and they inform him that Tutsi rebels killed their President. Paul asks why they would do such a thing when the President wanted peace. Here, actor Don Cheadle, emphasizes the character of Rusesabagina as he does not feel adequate to defend such an atrocity. The question of why me surfaces in his face.
Further incidents in Rwanda
Another incident happens when he is confronted by soldiers who ask for his ID, cause havoc with his family and force him to open the hotel as a safe haven. Paul cannot understand how others can view the war occurring and not want to get involved. In an exchange between him and a man filming the incidents, he asks him why people won’t become involved and the man calmly responds that they don’t feel obliged to. It is here that Hotel Rwanda reaches a turning point in depicting the every man for himself attitude that we all sometimes have. This is where the theme of survival is emphatically expressed. Paul is continually caught between doing what he feels is the right thing to do and siding with those committing the heinous act of violence.
As the political situation continues to become even more erratic, Paul meets with UN Peacekeeping forces. These forces are led by Colonel Oliver, whose intentions are to protect them against the brutal anti-Tutsi militia known as the Interahamewe. Paul starts to leave with his family but remains behind telling his wife, Tatiana, that he cannot leave the refugees and let them be killed. The final thirty minutes of Hotel Rwanda exhibit Paul’s family along with the refugees being ambushed. They are forced to turn back. As a consequence of this, Paul tries to reason with General Bizimungu, whom he says will be tried as a war criminal if he does not offer his assistance. Eventually, Paul and his family make it to safety.
Genocide in Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda does not offer the heart stopping action that many look for in a movie such as this. The genocidal construct is subtle, forcing you to watch it until the end to see if Paul, his family and the refugees will make it out alive. It is the sheer devastation of war that boggles the mind as the viewer watches what unfolds as a somewhat normal day in Rwanda, if one could call it that. Paul Rusesabagina is in fact a hero, a survivalist whose unbridled tenacity allowed him to see the agony of war through.
Hotel Rwanda is an fantastic film
Perhaps the theme of survival is what crystallizes Hotel Rwanda as a multifaceted, epic film. Up until the time of its release in 2004, there had not been such a cinematic emblem featured on the silver screen. It in essence brought out the injustices that were taking place in Rwanda. While shrouded in a dramatic sequence of events, Hotel Rwanda could in fact be labeled as a documentary of the politics of extremism and how tensions can lead to dreadful violence. Critics praised the movie as covering a lot of ground in just less than two hours. The movie itself is a personal experience that each viewer must journey through. The unimaginable violence that takes place while cleverly paced, triggers an emotional aqueduct within as the viewer is caught between sentimentality and uninhibited anger.