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Film Review

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Introduction to Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda is a film based on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Running battles between the Hutus and Tutsis led to the massacre of more than 800,000 Rwandese citizens. The war between Hutus and Tutsis is highly fuelled by bribery and corruption that mar the political scene in the country. It traces back to the Belgians who colonized Rwanda. Belgians, who took after the British system of divide and rule, established tribal lines between the Hutu and the Tutsi.

Tutsis were a minority group, forming about 20 percent of the population while the remaining 80 percent were Hutus. Belgians favoured the Tutsis because they considered them as having leadership values. Hence, they were given a privileged status. This quelled resentment among the Hutu, who felt they were overpowered by the Tutsis after Rwanda gained independence yet they were the majority.

The Hutus got fed up with the Tutsi minority rule and decided to retake power by force. That was the beginning of the civil war between Hutus and Tutsis. Tension built up when Habyarimana, the Rwandan reigning president, was assassinated. Hutu extremists killed more than half a million Tutsis during the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of about 1 million Rwandans. The genocide ended after the Tutsi rebels overran the Hutus in the war and regained power with foreign support.

Behaviours of characters in Hotel Rwanda

Paul Rusesabagina, the main character, is a Hutu who is married to Tatiana, a Tutsi. Paul’s marriage causes a lot of conflict especially between him and Augustin Bizimungu, the Rwandan Army General who supplies his hotel with friendly goods. Bizimungu also leads the Interahamwe, a very brutal anti-Tutsi militia group that is responsible for the massacre of close to one million Tutsis.

Paul and his family observe their neighbours being killed as political and ethnic violence worsens. Paul tries to divert the Hutu soldiers by bribing them alcohol and money with an aim of maintaining adequate food supplies for his family. When the civil war heightens, Paul negotiates the safety of many people and brings them to the hotel. More and more refugees from the Red Cross, orphanages and the United Nations camp keep flowing to the hotel which Paul struggles to maintain the operations to appear as a luxury hotel still. Amidst all these, Paul actively maintains his role as a father.

Since the United Nations peacekeeping forces have been forbidden to intervene in the prospects of the genocide, they cannot take any assertive action against Interahamwe. As the foreign nationals are evacuated from the country, native Rwandans remain behind. Several times, the UN forces try to evacuate Rwandan nationals including members of Paul’s family they are ambushed and asked to return by the Interhamwe. Paul’s bribes of alcohol and money no longer work, hence he threatens Augustin Bizimungu, the Rwandan Army General, that he will be tried and acquitted as a war criminal.

Finally, the refugees in Paul’s hotel along with his family manage to escape in a UN convoy. They go through a long journey, wading through threatening masses of Hutu rebels, militia and refugees before crossing the safety lines of Tutsi rebels.

In this film, Paul Rusesabagina is portrayed as a very intelligent man. Born to a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother, Paul is generally a Hutu but married to a Tutsi wife. This mix makes it hard for him to prefer either side—something that contributes to difficulty in managing an escape from the hotel. However, he intelligently manages to hide and sustain many Tutsis by bribing the Rwandan Army General with gifts of money and alcohol to help him with supplies of food and security. At one time, he goes out with his driver to get more food for the hotel residents and has to alight from the car to push bodies of dead Tutsis that were lying all over the road. Taken aback by this scene, he cries in pain and asks his driver not to tell anyone about what he had seen. He not only knew that it would also quell more wrangles and mayhem but also that if this information leaked to the Army General then he would have landed himself to trouble.

Paul is also portrayed as a man who upholds family values amidst the greatest risk. He hides his family in a special guest suite in the hotel where he attends to them to brief them about the progress of the civil war. He hides his children and wife from experiencing some of the worst life threatening events to ever take place in the world. He’s portrayed a bold loving father. In life, though few, there are some people who manage to balance their job and their family and also take care of their extended family and friends. This is especially common in developing countries where one has several dependents. By bringing to safety and providing food for more than 1,000 Tutsis, Paul demonstrates love for humanity. There are many people in life, especially activists and freedom fighters that have showed love for their communities and countries at large. In society there are many people who behave like Paul. They are honest to their values and duties. They maintain close friendships with their colleagues and lower level staff amidst their busy schedules. They are quite approachable and they are more than ready to listen to family issues even at the workplace.

Tatiana Rusesabagina, Paul’s wife, is depicted as timid and loving mother. When they are almost killed in the truck as they travel in a UN envoy, she practically disowns her husband for driving them into an ambush. However, she’s finally relieved when they cross to safety. She begins to desperately search for her two nieces who had been orphaned as if they were her own children. This is a sign of love and extreme care for humanity. Like her husband Paul, she also holds family values by trying to care for her family as much as possible. Tatiana is the typical mother who is very approachable, kind, generous and sympathetic. She is very approachable with dialogue and such people always keep their word.


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