Hotel Rwanda (2004)

 

 

Director:     Terry George

Starring:      Xolani Mali (Policeman),  Don Cheadle (Paul Rusesabagina),  Desmond Dube (Dube),  Hakeem Kae-Kazim (George Rutaganda),  Tony Kgoroge (Gregoire),  Rosie Motene (Receptionist),  Neil McCarthy (Jean Jacques),  Mabutho 'Kid' Sithole (Head Chef),  Nick Nolte (Colonel Oliver),  Fana Mokoena (General Bizimungu),  Jeremiah Ndlovu (Old Guard),  Sophie Okonedo (Tatiana Rusesabagina),  Lebo Mashile (Odette),  Antonio David Lyons (Thomas Mirama),  Leleti Khumalo (Fedens),  Kgomotso Seitshohlo (Anais),  Lerato Mokgotho (Carine),  Mosa Kaiser (Elys Rusesabagina),  Mathabo Pieterson (Diane Rusesabagina),  Ofentse Modiselle (Roger Rusesabagina),  David O'Hara (David),  Joaquin Phoenix (Jack Daglish),  Lennox Mathabathe (Peter),  Mothusi Magano (Benedict),  Noxolo Maqashalala (Chloe, Prostitute),  Thulani Nyembe (Jean Baptiste),  Simo Mogwaza (Hutu Captain),  Mirriam Ngomani (Gregoire's Girlfriend),  Cara Seymour (Pat Archer),  Harriet Lenabe (Alice the Waitress),  Roberto Citran (Priest),  Mduduzi Mabaso (Hutu Lieutenant),  Sonni Chidiebere (Militiaman),  Thomas Kariuki (Xavier),  Sibusiso Mhlangu (Militiaman),  Ashleigh Tobias (Medic),  Jean Reno (Sabena Airlines President, Mr. Tillens).

Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, housed over a thousand Tutsis refugees during the 1994 genocide waged by the Hutu militia in Rwanda.

 

 

Spoiler warning:  Below is the entire plot.

Very good movie about a terrible situation.  The year is 1994.  The Hutu use hate radio to spread murderous thoughts and plans among the Hutus against the Tutsis.  The Hutu complain that the Tutsi were collaborators with the Belgian colonists and when the Belgians left, the Tutsi stole their Hutu land even though the Hutu are the majority.  So the Hutus must wipe out the Tutsi RPF rebels. 

Paul Rusesabagina is the house manager of the Hotel Des Mille Collines in Kigali and he is very worried about the tense atmosphere in Rwanda.  The Hutu Interhamwe militia is virtually out of control and is looking to kill any Tutsi people they can get their hands on.  Paul stocks up on supplies via his friend George Rutaganda.  (While there Paul happens to see an ominous crate of machetes imported from China for 10 cents a piece.)  Rutaganda is a big man in the Hutu militia and he is telling Hutus to kill Tutsis.  On the way back to the hotel, Paul fears for the safety of his driver who is a Tutsi.  (Paul has special worries because his wife Tatiana is Tutsi.)

Back at the hotel we meet the Hutu General Bizimungu and the U.N. commander Colonel Oliver.  The conversation at the bar is about what are the differences between the Hutu and Tutsi.  A native Rwandan explains that the Belgian colonialist created the difference.  They created an artificial category for the Tutsi who were generally among the taller and more elegant of the Rwandans and then used these people to run the country.

There is talk of a peace agreement between the Hutu President Habyarimana and the Tutsi rebel forces that have been fighting the Hutu forces.  The peace treaty is signed, but it doesn't mean much for the Tutsi promptly shoot down the plane carrying the Hutu president.  So the killing continues. 

The Hutus are killing any Tutsi they can, but they especially target the Tutsi children in the hope of wiping out the next Tutsi generation.  Hundreds of Tutsi refugees come to Paul's hotel for safety.  Paul performs Herculean tasks to keep it all together.  He hopes that the West will come to his rescue, but Colonel Oliver has to inform him that the Rwandans have been abandoned.  No one will be coming to their rescue.  Even the U.N. is supposed to pull out. 

On numerous occasions it seems that the end has come for the hotel residents, but Paul keeps coming through at the last minute.  Meanwhile, the genocide continues.  Some 40,000 bodies are removed from Lake Victoria. 

What really saves the day is the Tutsi rebels themselves for they are victorious on the battlefield.  They push the Hutus out of Kigali, thereby making it possible for the UN to come in and take the hotel refugees to safety.  Where the Hutu were the hunters, they now become the hunted and it is the Hutu who have to run for their lives. 

Paul and his family are flown out of Africa and settle in Belgium. 

Don Cheadle was superb as the super-hero Paul Rusesabagina.  He portrayed the hotel manager who was worried and at times even scared, but who kept summoning the courage to face the dangers in Rwanda and to come up with ways to save the refugees.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

 

1890  -- a conference in Brussels gave Rwanda and Burundi to the German Empire as spheres of influence.  In exchange, Germany reounced all claims to Uganda.

1894  -- Rutarindwa inherited Rwanda from his father Rwabugiri IV.  A rebellion too place and the family was killed. Yuhi Musinga inherited the throne.

1897  --  German colonialists start settling in Rwanda. It did not take before German rule was established in Rwanda.

The Tutsi formed a ruling class.  The Germans favored these people because they were lighter in skin color than the oppressed Hutus.  Both the Germans and later the Belgians favored Tutsi dominance and reinforced it.   Whereas there had been Hutus in the ruling group, the Germans and Belgians made the rulers all Tutsi. 

1900  --- the final border for Rwanda were not established until this date.  (The established area included Rwanda as well as a group of smaller kingdoms on the shores of Lake Victoria.)

World War I (1914-1918)  --  the Belgians quickly forced the German forces out of the region. 

after World War I  --  Rwanda went to the Belgians. 

1933  --  Belgium required all Rwandans to be identified Tutsi, Hutu or Twa on ethnic identity cards. 

1950s  -- Belgium started to give the Hutus a greater share of the wealth (i.e., cattle) in Rwanda.  The Catholic Church also started to push for more equality between Hutus and Tutsis.

1954  -- the Tutsi King Charles carried out land redistribution between the Hutu and the Tutsi.

1959  --  the Tutsi were unhappy with the land redistribution and King Charles was assassinated. 

1959 (November)  --  The Hutus rose in revolt and overthrew the Tutsi King Kigeri V, who fled to Uganda.  After the Tutsi tried to kill the leader of the largest Hutu political party, genocide broke out with the Hutus killing from 20,000 to 100,000 Tutsis.  Power switched from the Tutsis to the Hutus.

1960  -- through U.N. intervention, a Republic of Rwanda was created.

1962  --  Rwanda becomes independent of Belgium. 

1964  --  a period of violence leads to more inequality with Hutus free to kill Tutsis without repercussions. Tutsi were called cockroaches.

1990  --  those Tutsis who were forced to flee Rwanda formed a new group known as the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). 

1990 (October 1)  --  the RPF invaded Rwanda from Uganda.  The Hutus retaliated with genocide against the Tutsis. 

1992 (July 12)  --  a cease-fire accord was signed.

1992 (July 31)  --  the cease-fire took effect.

1992 (August 10)  --  political talks began.

1994 (April)  --  the airplane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi was shot down killing both presidents.  The Hutus started rounding up and killing Tutsis on a massive scale.  Civil War then broke out. 

1994 (April 6 to the beginning of July)  --  the genocide left 937,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead (mostly at the hands of organized bands of militia: Interahamwe.

1994 (May 16)  -- the UN finally conceded that "acts of genocide may have been committed."

1994 (July)  --  the Tutsi rebels drove the Hutu forces across the border into the Congo, thereby ending the war.  The Hutu left behind some one million corpses. 

General Bizimungu was brought before the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in Tanzania.

 George Rutaganda was sentenced to life in prison. 

Approximately two million Hutus became refugees and thousands of them died in cholera and dysentery epidemics.

 

 

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