In order to keep the grim tone to the week, Sujal and I watched Hotel Rwanda. My school’s Amnesty International showed it at a movie night last year, but I was unable to go, so I was glad to finally see it. It was a powerful story powerfully told. As my neighbor said today, “Anything with Don Cheadle is great.”
On a purely filmic level, it was very well executed. The actors gave believable and stirring performances, and the ineffective characters were effectively portrayed. Nick Nolte did a great job playing an overloaded and sadly ineffective general. Such is history. I found one specific scene particularly powerful. After witnessing the carnage (BTW, for a movie about genocide, the carnage is kept to a minimum, though the filmmakers clearly get their point across. Sometimes the hint of violence is more potent that watching full-blown terror, as we become desensitized and/or we shut down from the horror.), Cheadle’s character, Paul Rusesabagina, (based on the real Paul Rusesabagina) showers and tries to dress himself. It is in doing the mundane activity of tying his tie — that semblance of normalcy — that he has his emotional breakdown. It is so visceral and real. It reminds me of the character of the wife in the novel The Sheltering Sky who must put her makeup on as her daily ritual, even though she has lost her husband and cannot get home. This is like the film version of the objective correlative.
Aside from being a strong film — holy crap! While I knew there was a genocide, I had no understanding of it. What frustrates the hell out of me, and I am only beginning to learn and understand the never-ending effects of colonialism, is that Hutus and Tutsis fought with each other eventually ending up in the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis, when really, their aggression would have been better aimed at their oppressor: Belgium. Colonialism was and is such an evil institution.
The film is ultimately very inspiring. I hope you are inspired to learn more and to donate to NGO’s to try to right some wrongs put into motion by colonialism.
Amnesty International is an excellent organization.
Donate here to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation.
NPR’s info on Paul Rusesabagina.
hey, heidi… have you read samantha power’s the problem from hell? i read part of years ago and have been inching through it for real for the last few weeks. it’ll give you a really amazing historical context into such a disturbing practice (that’s not the right word, but i’m trying to avoid “concept”). Here’s a more recent, less formal and much briefer attempt at elucidating genocide: http://buchanan.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/the-roots-of-ethnic-violence/