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“Sometimes in April” by Raoul Peck Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Feb 23rd, 2021

Review of the Film

Mr. Augustine, now a teacher, narrates his experience during the 1994 Rwandan genocide that claimed over 800,000 lives. Captain Augustine, a Hutu, was married to Jane, a Tutsi. The political temperatures were already rising up. Augustine, as a captain in the Rwandan armed forces, found himself in a very awkward position. He was a Hutu who was in the military that was highly charged against the Tutsi, the tribe of his wife.

He was aware of the tension that was brewing in the military and in the country at large. The Hutu based military would stop at nothing but to ensure that the Tutsis were eliminated in large numbers. When an unknown group shot down the president’s plane, the tension that had brewed up blasted. Mass massacre against the Tutsis erupted. Within the first day of the fights, over eight thousand people had been killed in the war.

The majority of the casualties were the Tutsis because they were the minority. Moreover, the Hutus were in control of all government units, including the military. They, therefore, used government machinery in the fight. Although the Tutsi rebels also killed and maimed several Hutus, the majority of the casualties were the Tutsi.

Augustine had to seek the help of the brother Honore, who was a radio broadcaster and widely known to rescue his family from the capital Kigali. Unfortunately, they were intercepted, and the children were brutally murdered. The wife later detonated herself, killing a number of Hutu militants who were on a mission to kill the Tutsis. The Hutu soldiers would go to schools, churches, and other social places, eliminating any Tutsi or their sympathizers. The Rwandan Patriotic Front later overpowered the government forces hence taking overpower.

The desire to watch this movie was because it is very motivational and educational. The movie brings to life the real events that took place in Rwanda in the 1994 genocide. So real is the movie that the viewer is left wondering whether the movie is not a live coverage of the episode that took place. The director of the movie managed to bring to focus on the activities that led to the war in this country. The politics and greed, the need to revenge, ethnicity, and tribalism are some of the social evils that are presented in a way that makes an individual appreciate the facts that caused the war.

This movie brings several themes to focus on. It brings out the unconcerned attitude of international society towards the plight of some people in the world. The pace at which the killings took place would be an obvious wake-up call to the United Nations. When the United Nations was formed immediately after the Second World War, its main objective was to ensure that at no point would there be mass massacres of humanity.

It was meant to ensure that the world is safe for all. Although this war was an internal affair in a sovereign state, one fact that was worth appreciating was that the way things were moving, it would be considered that the country had completely lost its sovereignty, and therefore it would be advisable to intervene and save lives. However, the action of the United Nations was not only despicable but also immoral.

The whites were not under direct aggression from whichever group. Taking them away and leaving the blacks to die was, in itself, an act of self-centeredness and greed. The US, by virtue of being the only superpower country in the world, carried some blame. In many cases, it had intervened in other countries when there was internal strife. Why then did it keep away from the Rwandan case when it was needed most? Many Rwandans and other people asked this question across the globe.

Another main issue coming out in this movie is the dangers associated with tribalism. It may appear a simple way of identification. However, if not taken with moderation, this can be the source of a nation’s downfall. The filmmaker takes issue with the international community for their belated concern about the plight of the Rwandese. The movie strongly presents the fact that if only the international community intervened well in time, many people could have been saved.

In every community, the place where people seek solace in difficult times is in church. It is in such institutions that people seek solace when circumstances seem to be getting out of control. The filmmaker takes issue with this institution. In a number of episodes, the filmmaker has put the church and its leadership under criticism. In the school where Ann-Mary, the daughter of Augustine was learning, the head was a priest for the school appears to be a seminary. Under a normal circumstance, it would be expected of him to lead teachers and students in prayers, assuring them that all would be fine. However, he gives in to the demands of the Hutu rebels and instructs the concerned mistress to give out Tutsi girls for massacre. The same incident took place in other churches.

Analysis

Sometimes in April is a film that brings back to surface the terrible genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. The movie is directed in a way that appears far from being a fiction. Everything presented in this movie relates to the history of this country during the genocide. Given the way it is presented, it is as if it is a live coverage of the incidents that took place in this country. To give it a personal touch, the producers brought in a personal experience of the main character, Captain Augustine.

Many Hutus were married to Tutsis and vice versa. Through this character, we are introduced to the kind of dilemma many people found themselves in during such times. On one end, Augustine was a loyal military officer from a Hutu tribe. His wife was a Tutsi. His best friend, Muyang’ was also a Tutsi. Tutsi was a tribe that was so much attached to him that he could not just afford to brush it off. He found himself eliminated from the list of loyal soldiers who would be sent to various missions of assassinating specific Hutus and Tutsis, and mass massacres of the Tutsis. He was not trusted because he was married to a Tutsi.

When the entire family of Augustine was eliminated in this genocide, we are exposed to the situation that created this film. For a moment, we forget the fact that this is a film as the pain of the episodes sink. Inclusion of real world leaders such as President Bill Clinton and ABC news channel helps to further give this film a touch of reality. The assassination of the then president of the republic of Rwanda was also real. Just as it has remained unknown to the world who assassinated the president and under whose orders they were working, the film leaves us wondering who could have sponsored the assassination that also claimed the life of the Burundi’s president.

There are some episodes that although they are not far from the reality, the filmmaker employed some liberties to make the movie more interesting. There is the episode where Augustine and his friend leave Augustine’s compound to seek help from camps or just escape to Uganda or Kenya. The way in which they pass the erected roadblocks is a little more exaggerated. Inasmuch as they were trained military officers, it would be a little more difficult to go past the roadblocks with such ease.

There is another episode where large numbers of bodies are carried in trucks on their way to an unknown destination. Although it is true that many people were killed and many were dumped in rivers or such other awkward places, the picture given in this movie is a little too exaggerated. However, the filmmaker ensured that this does not distort the reality.

Even with this, the film still carries its originality and authenticity with which it was expected. The film gives both sides of the issue at hand a fair representation. The film starts by explaining how the resentment between the two main tribes in Rwanda begun. Although the activities of Rwanda Patriotic Front forces, led by the current president Kagame has not been put in much focus, we are categorically informed that to the south, Tutsi rebels had repulsed Hutu soldiers, and Hutus in this region had to escape towards the north.

I highly enjoyed the film. The film is not only interesting and captivating but also very educative. It brings out the realities that we have to face in live. Although the genocide that took place over one and a half decades ago is something that many Rwandese would want to forget, the injury left on victims, as we can see in our main character Augustine, is too large to be assumed. The resentment may take time to fade away.

I would highly recommend this film to others. This film makes us understand the fact that peace is very important. When we have it, we may tend to assume that it is something normal. However, lack of it brings in so many unfortunate incidents. As can be seen in the film, lack of peace can tear a country apart. I would therefore recommend the movie to others as a way of warning them that it is very dangerous to be involved in actions that would jeopardize peace. With the fact that Honore, Augustine’s brother, was later arrested, it would be a warning to all that justice always comes however long it may take (Rikhof 24). For these reasons, I would consider keeping the film on the supplemental film list.

Conclusion

Written in the context of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Sometimes in April provides a comprehensive and very touching recount of the activities that took place in Rwanda during this time. The film is developed in such a way that it brings back to life the activities that took place in Rwanda during the genocide. The film raises emotions as innocent lives are taken away indiscriminately. Through this film, one appreciate the importance of peace in society.

Works Cited

Rikhof, Joseph. Hate speech and international criminal law, the Mugesera decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. JIC, 3.1, 2005, 1121-1133.

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IvyPanda. (2021, February 23). "Sometimes in April" by Raoul Peck. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/sometimes-in-april-by-raoul-peck/

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""Sometimes in April" by Raoul Peck." IvyPanda, 23 Feb. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/sometimes-in-april-by-raoul-peck/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Sometimes in April" by Raoul Peck." February 23, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sometimes-in-april-by-raoul-peck/.


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IvyPanda. ""Sometimes in April" by Raoul Peck." February 23, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sometimes-in-april-by-raoul-peck/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""Sometimes in April" by Raoul Peck." February 23, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sometimes-in-april-by-raoul-peck/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"Sometimes in April" by Raoul Peck'. 23 February.

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