Hotel Rwanda | Teen Ink

Hotel Rwanda

June 20, 2015
By AlaNova ELITE, Naperville, Illinois
AlaNova ELITE, Naperville, Illinois
257 articles 0 photos 326 comments

Favorite Quote:
Dalai Lama said, "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called YESTERDAY and the other is called TOMORROW, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live..."

It puts you in the minority to know nothing of the Holocaust, the WWII genocide that mass murdered nearly 6 million Jews. But it puts you in a special minority to know much at all of the Rwandan genocide, the killing that erupted between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi peoples in 1994. There, the film (directed by Terry George) follows the true story of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), stable-standing Hutu manager of the Hôtel de Mille Collines. It’s a beautiful place, well-founded by the white vacationers who take to an Africa rich with European influence. Married happily to Tutsi wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) with children, Rusesabagina finds himself suddenly thrust into a civil upturn when the Rwandan president is killed in the capital Kigali and longstanding anger erupts between blood neighbors. He makes the ultimate choice, opening up the hotel to Hutu and Tutsi refugees as the Hutu militia and Tutsi rebels wreak what would become 800,000 Rwandan deaths in 100 days.

In every way, this film is remarkable. Oscar nominations and brilliant cast aside; it is something that will not leave you after the camera stops. It seems as we grow greater as a collective human species, many new First World generations are born into the illusions of world harmony. There’s the UN, and then there’s NATO, and NAFTA, and all these familiar little acronyms to represent what resembles general peace. And even as we grow up more aware of the great conflicts of our time, they do not touch us in our everyday lives and therefore do not seem to affect us. It’s a broad generalization to make, but growing up a millennial I have not seen much to disprove it. I learned about the Holocaust in school and that despite public horror, it did not stop genocide from spilling into very recent history. But these were all numbers; our class seemed to go numb for a bit and then continue the mindless chatter at lunch.

Indeed, the movie literally quotes “I think if people see this footage [of the Tutsis being murdered], they’ll say ‘oh my goodness, that’s horrible,’” says Jack (Joaquin Phoenix), American Press reporter to Rusesabagina, “and then go on eating their dinners.” He speaks when Rusesabagina finds it impossible to accept the world will not intervene while the news feed says it all; there is slaughter happening in Rwanda. And as he does, he silences every audience. We witness in the film that even as UN “Peacekeepers” were stationed in Rwanda, they were strictly prohibited from genuinely joining the fight—specifically, they were not allowed to fire unless directly fired upon. Still, for a time, Rusesabagina’s only consolation to his terrified guests is The UN is here. No harm can come to us.

Hotel Rwanda is a stunning masterpiece, hands down. The dynamics of the movie are fine tuned to bring together yet a personal story as much as a global statement—and a much-needed tribute to the forgotten horrors in Rwanda only about twenty years ago.

The author's comments:

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