#166: Hotel Rwanda (2004)

When and how did I watch this?

December 21st, 2015, on Netflix.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I kind of learned about the genocide presented in the film as I went along, not to check the film’s veracity, but to get a better understanding of what was going on.  I was 13 when this horrible event took place, so my understanding was limited going into the film.

What do I know about it now?

It’s hard to tastefully address a world tragedy without marginalizing aspects, stereotyping a whole people, or hyper-sentimentalizing the event.  I felt the film did an excellent job avoiding all of these cliches, and kept the plot close to home.  It also didn’t glamorize any of the violence, which must have been tempting.  I found this film moving, at times disturbing, and ultimately entertaining, if not just informative.  As many of the films on this list have done, it never condescended to viewer, and it didn’t waste any time.  The use of time is brilliant — we move from event to event without being jarred and never losing the intensity or urgency of the situation. I truly enjoyed it.

What are some themes in the film?

Prejudice, family, bureaucracy, African marginalization, politics and economics, world humanitarian responses, genocide

Did this affect me personally?

Yes. Often, I felt like I was in the midst of the conflict, forced to make difficult decisions and relieved I wasn’t the one actually there.

Why is this ranked #166?

I think many people who’ve seen this recognize the significance of the Rwandan genocide and perceive the situation (if not before, after viewing) as more than tribal sword-rattling in Africa.  It is a very human story, not just a history lesson or blood bath. Cheadle is perfect.  All of these factor into its ranking.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She was shaking for most of the film, but she ultimately respected its message as well.

Would I watch it again?

Probably not.  Would you watch Schindler’s List or The Pianist a second time?

Would I recommend it to a friend?

This is one of those “everyone should see it” films.  We have a pretty solid Western perspective as Americans, especially in the media and how we perceive Africa.  It’s far better now, but we could do with more movies like this.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  I think most critics would agree with me on this one, although seemingly the Oscars gave this one no due.

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