I had some time to myself this morning, and used it to finally get around to watching Hotel Rwanda.
This movie messed me up… It’s, uh, disturbing, to put it mildly. I mean like no movie I’ve seen since The Killing Fields. If, like me, you’ve been putting off watching this film, I recommend — if you’re willing to be disturbed, that is — that you not put it off much longer.
A few links before continuing: National Geographic article about the movie || Documentary: Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of RomÃ©o Dallaire || Katie Couric interviews Don Cheadle & Paul Rusesabagina || CBC: Filming the Unfilmable: The challenge of the genocide movie
The film has renewed my desire to get
RomÃ©o Dallaire‘s book, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda back onto my reading list. I tried to pick it up at the library once, and had to ask for the title… they didn’t have it at that branch, but the look on the face of the librarian I asked when she heard the title made me think she had never heard of it before, and was rather aghast at my choice of reading material, perhaps wondering why the library would ever stock something with such a title as that. Dallaire, upon whom Nick Nolte’s character is patterned (apparently the only name-change in the movie), is the highest-ranking service person to ever experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Little wonder. After seeing the movie, recalling my library experience reminds me of our general attitude and response to the Rwandan Genocide at the time. It’s encapsulated perfectly in the words of a journalist in the movie:
I think if people see this footage, they’ll say Oh, my God, that’s horrible. And then they’ll go on eating their dinners.
Now that’s damning… because it’s true. God help us.
I’m curious what other people’s reactions were to this movie?
There are many more resources regarding the genocide in Rwanda. I do recommend Mr. Dallaire’s book although it is not an easy read. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Dallaire and hearing him speak at a fundraising dinner here for the widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide. Mr. Dallaire remains very involved and passionate regarding speaking out about what happened in Rwanda and what is going on in other countries as we speak. There is a documentary by the same name as his book which is fairly easy to find in the retail stores (at least here in Canada). There is a movie coming out this year by the same name. Probably the best and most true (without being overly graphic) movie surrounding those events is “Sometimes in April”. It is not available retail (I don’t think) but is well worth purchasing through Amazon. I have many Rwandan friends and they have told me that “Sometimes in April” is a far better representation.
I haven’t seen it yet. Honestly, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll just go back to eating my dinner.