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“Hotel Rwanda” by Terry George Film Analysis Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2020

Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 film directed by Terry George, which is devoted to the confrontation between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda, known as Rwandan Genocide. The protagonist, Paul Rusesabagina, is a hotel keeper, Hutu by ethnicity, who is married to Tatiana, a Tutsi woman. Meanwhile, the tension between Hutu and Tutsi leads to war.

Paul’s marriage to Tatiana provokes numerous conflicts with Hutu extremists, particularly with a hotel supplier, who is a leader of a local paramilitary organization. The situation becomes worse, their neighbors get killed, but Paul manages to win the appreciation of the local administration by bribery, which helps to keep his family safe.

As the civil war starts, Paul proceeds to help the refugees, keeping them safe in his hotel while negotiating with the military so that they would not hurt the refugees. In the end, Paul is recognized as a hero, who saved numerous lives.

Rwandan Genocide is a mass murder of the Tutu minority in the 1994 Rwanda, during which fourth part of the country’s population were killed at the decision of Rwandan political elite. This unbelievably cruel act was committed on the ground of ethnic prejudices and hatred towards Tutsi, who were blamed for the country’s economic problems.

The film allows a viewer to look at the events of Rwandan genocide with the eyes of a person directly involved in these events, thus placing a viewer into a hard, terrifying situation, makes them understand what it feels like, to be a genocide target (or a husband of a genocide target). Moreover, the image is utterly realistic: the victims get injured, killed, threatened by soldiers, people lose their friends and family members, dead bodies are rotting on a lawn.

The filmmakers did everything that it takes to make viewers accept a universal message: there is no and there can be no single reason to justify a mass slaughter. Genocide is one of the worst crimes a government can commit to its people, and it is not a way to solve any political or economic problems or to enforce the control over a country.

Among the ways that the filmmakers used to transmit their message is the portrayal of the protagonist. Instead of acting as a superhero along to an inspirational tune, or creating a partisan group of Tutsi and heroically defeating Rwandan army, Paul Rusesabagina uses bribery, flattery, and alcohol to prevent state officials from doing harm to those, of whom he cares.

He treats Bizimungu, the general of the Rwandan army, like his guest, welcomes him, pours him a drink, despite the fact that this man was responsible for the murders, to gain his favor and save the family. Such behavior makes Paul a real man rather than a superhero, a common man, who used to mind his own business, but a civil war started, and now he has to use despicable means to achieve noble ends. It makes the protagonist closer and more understandable to the viewer and causes compassion from the latter, which facilitates the transmission of the film’s message.

Apart from that, Paul demonstrates the way to solve tensions without killing anybody. His life makes observers ask questions: if a Hutu man can live and have children with a Tutsi woman, why cannot Hutu and Tutsi live in peace? If a hotel keeper, one person, can successfully negotiate with military officers and save lives, why cannot the representatives of the two ethnicities negotiate instead of fighting? If this man can be compassionate, why cannot others?

Additionally, the film presents an indirect criticism of the actions of the United Nations forces in Rwanda genocide. “We’re here as peacekeepers, not as peacemakers,” such is a response of General Oliver when he sees children killed (Hotel Rwanda). This line alone is a sufficient demonstration if the ineffectiveness of the UN’s response to the conflict in Rwanda. Western journalists are no better. Hotel Rwanda makes it clear that the international community failed to bring any solution to the conflict; instead, it presented only some show-like actions.

The underlying message of the film is of high importance to the present-day society. It is valuable to know the history of genocides, including Rwandan Genocide.

People should know what types of attitudes and behavior can lead to genocide: ethnic and racial stereotypes, including offensive names (“Tutsi cockroaches”), hatred, ignorance, ethnic and race-based discrimination, etc. It is also important to understand that genocide often follows economic and political crises in a country: incompetent or populist governments often find an ethnic group to blame for all the country’s problems, distracting the majority of citizens and turning their aggression on somebody else than the government.

Additionally, it is needed to keep in mind that genocide may also be triggered by a long-term conflict between two different groups. In the case of Rwanda, it is also significant that white colonialists involuntarily triggered the genocide, forcing two inimical tribes into the same country. The film also makes viewers believe that it is dangerous and irresponsible to remain silent in such conditions, and it is significant for promoting the values of civil society.

I can be said that the message is helpful rather than detrimental to the audience. Despite the fact that the film has a happy ending, and happy endings rarely occur when it comes to genocide, the message is still powerful and can influence many minds.

Some viewers, uneducated about the affairs of the African continent, may find themselves thinking about the legacy of colonialism. The audience would receive a certain assumption about the causes, course, and outcomes of genocide, which may make people think about the ways to prevent such occasions in future. The filmmakers did a good job and contributed to the world’s efforts to prevent genocide.

The presented analysis of Hotel Rwanda allows to understand the nature of the message translated by this film, assess its value for the contemporary society, and esteem the extent, to which this message is able to reach out to the viewers. This analysis also allows to understand the way, in which this message is translated, including the portrayal and actions of the main protagonist, the presentation of the UN forces, and other scenes.

In conclusion, the film Hotel Rwanda is devoted to the topic of Rwandan Genocide and delivers a powerful message about the inadmissibility of a mass murder, no matter the reasons and purposes. The film presents a protagonist, who does his best to protect the genocide victims and uses illegal means to fulfill his aim. It makes the protagonist closer to a viewer and ensures the successful delivery of the film’s message.

Works Cited

Hotel Rwanda. Ex. Prod. Terry George. Perf. Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, and Nick Nolte. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2004. Film.

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