Thursday, May 05, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

If you call that pulsing organ in your chest a heart then go see Hotel Rwanda. Prepare yourself for a heart-wrenching experience. And I really do mean a real emotional whalloping. Do yourself a favor, please. I know a lot of people who think that it's too heavy a subject for a movie and would rather only go see light entertainment and comedies. Forget the generally accepted bullshit that movies are just entertainment. They're not called movies just because the picture moves. They're called movies because they have the power to set your emotions and move you as well. This is a movie about our collective shame. How we, ie the world, let humanity down; and how we as humans can so easily turn into monsters, In 1994 a million innocents were slaughtered in Rwanda in a period of just 100 days. That's like 10,000 a day. They were not killed by foreign enemies. They were killed by their own countrymen. Their neighbors and colleagues. And while they killed and killed, the rest of the world squabled over definitions like "what is genocide?"

In 1994, I was in college in California. At the time I was full-on news junky. My tv was semi-permanently tuned to CNN. In 1994, while Hollywood was busy beatifying Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List a million regular people like you and me picked up machettes and slaughtered their neighbors. They went on a rampage of ethnic cleansing and no one cared. The Hutus of Rwanda called the Tutsis cockroaches and insects. They didn't realize that as far as the rest of the non-African world, the whole of Africa didn't matter.

In 1996, still a news junky, I saw Operations Grapes of Wrath and the slaughter of Qana on tv. I stopped watching the news all together after that.

Yesterday, in a semi-empty cinema hall watching Hotel Rwanda I couldn't stop tears from welling up in my eyes. I stopped myself from crying but my body refused. Instead of tears I began to tremble uncontrollably.

Too many questions: why didn't the UN do anything to stop the genocide in Rwanda till a million souls were gone? Is it just because they were black? Didn't they matter? If Bosnia wasn't in Europe's own backyard, would their situation have been the same? What kind of forces turn a nation into killing machines? How come we never learn from our lessons? Germany, Cambodia, East Timor, Bosnia. Rwanda. How come

Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu, saved the lives of more than 1200 Tutsis. That's more than the 1100 jews that Schindler saved in Germany 50 years before. This is the story of how he did it. Go see Hotel Rwanada.


NaBHaN said...

I am really looking forward to watching this movie.. All the reviews have been amazing so far.

nomadica said...

I found Hotel Rwanda to be a really powerful film, but one that many people have sadly avoided because of the very serious and disturbing subject matter. But again, as you said, how come we never learn from our lessons? Look what is happening in Darfur now. I was flipping through an article in the Economist last night that put the death toll at 300,000 already -with no end in sight to the carnage. Don Cheadle was recently on TV talking about the same thing, hoping that a 'Hotel Darfur' could be prevented ( Everyone, please watch this movie if you can!

illogicist said...

Thanks for bringing this up. I'd heard of this movie, but not much about it. Don Cheadle is a great actor, but of late has let himself down. Ill surely try to watch this movie now.

hibbalicious said...

I watched this movie it was amazing one of the most moving and emotive films i have seen in years, Z i disagree i think Don Cheadle really didnt get the credit he deserved for this film he was really overlooked, his acting abilities and the way that he made the film 'real' was somehting i dont think another actor could have pulled of very well.
The problem is i think Muscati that the west doesnt want to admit they where passive about what went on in rwanda and how they turned there backs on the people, If you go to the bbc website or google rwanda youl come up with so many good sites about what went on.

anyways Glad you enjoyed it :)

NaBHaN said...

Puss in boots : Don Cheadle was nominated for a best actor oscar for his role in this that alone is actually alot of credit.

Kazablanka said...

You lived in Cali?? I didnt know that... what city??

muscati said...

In the heart of California, the center of the richest agricultural region in the world, is a city larger than Atlanta or St. Louis, a city like anywhere else and a city like nowhere else.

This is Fresno, a city with the look of a strip mall and the soul of a country town. Fresno is a cautionary tale of planning gone wrong and development gone wild.

Add to the mix a whiff of civic corruption and you have a glimpse of a different future from the future the optimists see for California.

Fresno is the only large California city that Fodor's Guide describes as ``depressing...

This is the city where I went to college and lived for close to five and a half years. A city consistently voted one of the worst places to live in America.

Kazablanka said...

hey I've been to Fresno a couple of times.. but never lived there.. I lived most of my life in LA and Sacramento..

there used to be this nice ice cream shop in fresno owned by an arab guy.. even though it was freezing, it was so yummy to eat ice cream from there...

There are alot of libyans in fresno.. do you know any libyan people??

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