The film Hotel Rwanda (2004), directed by Terry George is a work of art that shows the Rwandan genocide from the perspective of one person; it really shines a humanistic light onto this horrific event. The film is set in 1994 in the Hotel des Milles Collines, in Kigali in the relatively newly freed Rwanda. The division of native people into Hutu and Tutsi had become an integral part of Rwandan culture. The civil war between the started in 1990, but the 100-day genocide happened in spring and summer 1994. The civil war was fought primarily between Hutu government forces and Tutsi rebels. The rebels ended up winning the war (their party continues to govern), after 500,000-1,000,000 deaths, and many more Tutsis seeking refuge in neighboring countries .
The main character in Hotel Rwanda is Paul Rusesabagina, the house manager of Hotel des Milles Collines, is a Hutu man married to a Tutsi woman, named Tatiana. His hotel is usually filled with rich white people who respect him (he prides himself on this since they generally don’t respect the native population). The film starts at just about the same time as the genocide begins. Paul believes that the peaceful native population will not be hugely affected by this new type of conflict, and that the UN peacekeepers will protect them. This is false; the Western world abandons Rwanda, leaving the innocent people there to perish. Meynardie 2 As the situation deteriorates, Paul makes the hotel a place of sanctuary, and hides anyone seeking shelter, Hutu or Tutsi, as well as he can. He befriends Colonel Oliver, a leader of the UN peacekeeping initiative and Pat Archer of the Red Cross, who help get people out of the hotel and to permanent safety. Photographer and journalist Jack Daglish attempts to bring the situation in Rwanda to the attention of the global media. Towards the end of the film, the foreigners left in the hotel are taken out of the country and back home, but the Rwandans are left behind. The UN attempts to get a group of refugees (including Paul’s family) to safety, but they are attacked and have to turn back. After this, Paul contacts the Rwandan army general, Augustin Bizimungu; he tries to bribe him, and when that doesn’t work, he threatens him with being tried as a war criminal. Finally, the remaining people hiding in the hotel are escorted to safety behind Rebel Tutsi lines. This film shows not only the history of this event, but the heroism of one man.
It shows the side of history that we don’t like to see. The part where the first world, developed, western nations saw what was happening, saw hundreds of thousands of people dying, and did precious little to stop it. This film is beautiful because it sheds light on an event that we don’t teach in schools and because it makes it personal. As the audience watches the film, they feel what these people are going through, they fall in love with Paul’s family, and they want to scream at the people who aren’t doing anything to fix the situation. You should include this film in History through Film because this is a story that we aren’t told. In our school system, we are told the stories where America is on the right side of history. This is the second largest genocide since the Holocaust, and we just don’t talk about it. These Meynardie 3 are stories that need to be told. These are stories that aren’t being told. This film is beautiful because it lets the audience be part of this terrible thing that happened and this wonderful person who managed to make it just a little bit better. It is terrifying not only because of the horrific events that it portrays, but also because before I first saw this film, I didn’t even know that the Rwandan civil war, much less genocide, happened.
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