Review: Hotel Rwanda, Directed by Terry George

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Hotel Rwanda (2004), directed by Terry George is based on the true-story events surrounding the heroic efforts of Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle), an assistant manager at the Mille Collines international hotel in Kigali, Rwanda to save 1268 friends, neighbors and fellow countrymen caught up in the middle of the bloody genocide. The film is also based on Rusesabagina’s An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography, the story of the 100 days of genocide from his personal perspective.

One feature of the film that is addressed is the overall nonintervention and inaction of the West in the genocide. Several scenes in the film portray the feelings of superiority that westerners felt in Rwanda. One particular scene is within days of President Juvénal Habyarimana’s assassination, French troops arrive to protect only the foreign nationals, not the Hutu and Tutsi refugees in the hotel. This is representative of the West being selfish and abandoning the refugees.

Two characters who represent the West are Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte) of the small UN unit and Jack Daglish, (Joaquin Phoenix) a journalist. Nolte and Phoenix, throughout several scenes of the film portray the different attitudes of the West, from utter neglect, to despair, to attempts to help.

In addition to the racial themes, the film also speaks about the permanent colonial influence that Belgium forced on the communities in Africa.