Going into this movie I had a pretty good understanding of the story as well as knowing what that part of Africa looks like. Thus I was hoping that they would stay true to both the story and Rwanda when they did this film. Lets just say I was blown away. Not only did they do the story exceptionally well (down to the police captain who loved scotch and the Canadian video journalist who fell in love), they also recreated Rwanda so much so that it brought back a lot of memories of Uganda. The film was shot in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is probably why they were able to make things look so authentic.
This film is intense and real, and documents not only the lack of help the West showed towards Rwanda but also the amazing strength and courage Paul Rusesabagina showed in saving the lives of thousands of Rwandans. There is one very intense and shaming scene where General Romeo Dallaire (named Colonel Oliver in the film) tells Paul that the western world knows what is going on, but they don’t care. That scene I think made everyone in the audience feel a bit of a gut check.
This film made me think a lot of what is going on in the world today and how little we learned from this experience. In Sudan over 2 million people have been killed in fighting between Arabs and Blacks, the Western world has vowed to help out, but it all just seems to be a lip service. Watching the TV show Boston Legal last week the lawyers of the show sued the US government for not doing anything in Sudan. Their claim was that while the US has said publicly they are dedicated to help Sudan, they are actually not following through with it. The reason for suing was a law that says your not responsible if you don’t help someone, but if you say you are going to help someone then don’t you are at fault because other people will think your helping that person and not give help themselves. It was very like David E Kelley to bring up this issue as he subtly does with a lot of issues.
Like I said Hotel Rwanda puts a whole new perspective on what is happening in the world now and where the West puts value. In 100 days in Rwanda over 800,000 people were killed, not by gas, not by a bullet, but brutally with a machete. All the while we just sat back in our comfy world and did nothing, hell it is only some Africans was the thought. What it comes down to is Rwanda has nothing the West wants, that is why we start wars in Iraq and do nothing in Sudan, we claim Iran is a nation of terrorists but fail to help those in the Congo. General Romeo Dallaire in his book Shake Hands With the Devil had this to say, “What I have come to realize as the root of it all, however, is the fundamental indifference of the world community to the plight of seven to eight million black Africans in a tiny country that had no strategic or resource value to any world power. An overpopulated little country that turned in on itself and destroyed its own people, as the world watched and yet could not manage to find the political will to intervene. Engraved still in my brain is the judgment of a small group of bureaucrats who came to ‘asses’ the situation in the first weeks of the genocide: ‘We will recommend to our government not to intervene as the risk are high and all that is here are humans.’”
800,000 in 100 days, sickening isn’t it. All it would have taken was a few thousand trained solders to stop the killings, but we sat on our hands and watched. These killers were not militia, they were common peasants indoctrinated by massive propaganda that would flow via the radio and newspapers on a daily basis, “Kill the Tutsi cockroaches, they are what is wrong, they are holding us Hutu’s down.”
The Western world and more importantly the super powers of this world need to re-evaluate what it means to be in their positions. They have the opportunity to do great good in this world; there is no reason for them to have the image they have. Yet instead we go and fight wars over oil or land or some other resource, and more people die.
If you have the opportunity to see this movie, do it. Also if you can spare the time or the money think about what is happening in this world right now. Write a letter to the people in power and ask them why they aren’t doing more to help the people in Sudan, or the Congo, if you have a few dollars extra donate them to much needed organizations such as the Red Cross or Oxfam, and most importantly think of how lucky you are to have been born in a country like Canada and what it means to not have to fend for your life on a daily basis.