Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hotel Rwanda (2004)


Through the magic of Netflix.com, last night I watched Hotel Rwanda (2004), which I had been thinking about seeing for some time. Reelviews Movie Reviews' James Berardinelli called "an important film." That phrase almost convinced me to avoid the film, but I did watch it, with my soft spot for films about the Dark Continent, having recently enjoyed White Material (2009) and the film adaptation of the novel Disgrace.

This was the weakest of the three films. It aimed to be a propaganda piece for Humanitarian Intervention. This is a SWPL movie, which hopes to set straight those like Mr. Berardinelli, who began his review
    If you're like me, you probably paid little attention to the attempted genocide that occurred during the civil war in Rwanda in the mid-1990s (more than one million people died). I remember reading about it in the papers and occasionally seeing clips on the news, but it didn't leave much of an impression. (Or, as one character in the film puts it: "If people see this footage, they'll go, 'Oh my God! That's horrible!' then go on eating their dinner.")
Shame, shame! But what's so wrong with that attitude? The movie wants us to feel white guilt for not having marched our boys and girls off in some neo-colonial misadventure to kill Hutus for having killed Tutsis in revenge for having killed Hutus.

Aside from the propagandizing, this was the true story of a man, and heroic one at that. Hospitality management studies never looked so good (in the sense of virtuous) as it does in the person of Paul Rusesabagina. Politicians, soldiers, and rebels are all shown to be the villains they usually are, but the hero of this movie is a paragon of the bourgeoisie and all it rightly stands for! This is the film's true triumph and message.

"There will be no rescue, no intervention for us," said the protagonist. "We can only save ourselves." Indeed. Africa does not need the White Man to save her, she needs more Paul Rusesabaginas.

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