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Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda
Actors: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, Xolani Mali, Desmond Dube
Director: Terry George
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
PG-13     2005     2hr 1min

Once you find out what happened in Rwanda, you'll never forget. OscarĀ(r) nominee* Don Cheadle (Traffic) gives "the performance of his career in this extraordinarily powerful" (The Hollywood Reporter) and moving true story...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, Xolani Mali, Desmond Dube
Director: Terry George
Creators: Terry George, A. Kitman Ho, Bridget Pickering, Duncan Reid, Francesco Melzi d'Eril, Hal Sadoff, Keir Pearson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, British, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/12/2005
Original Release Date: 02/04/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 02/04/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 1min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 23
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
See Also:

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 3/10/2024...
Had potential but the movie fizzled out.
Reviewed on 5/30/2011...
great movie with excellent story. A keeper
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Leslie E. from SAINT LOUIS, MO
Reviewed on 3/15/2011...
Excellent true story of a true hero. While they are a bit more graphic, The Last King of Scotland and Tears of the Sun follow a similar theme.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Reviewed on 3/5/2010...
Great movie. G;ad I watched it. Would also recommend Blood Diamond if you like this flick.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Powerful and Moving
R. J. Marsella | California | 01/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a movie that is unforgettable in it's accurate portrayal of human brutality. It is an ugly indictment of the West's refusal to intervene in a crisis that allowed unspeakable slaughter to occur. The film is incredibly well written, well acted and the scenes are frighteningly realistic. Don Cheadle is superb as the heroic hotel manager who more than rises to the occassion using his wits to keep his family and hundreds of others safe in the midst of chaos. He surely deserves great recognition for this role.

Rwanda is a lesson in how Governments and the media can selectively focus on problem areas in the world and also can selectively ignore others. For example most Americans now know differences between shiites and sunnis and kurds but how many know the differences between tsuties and hutus ? That fact that the hatred portrayed in this film is so irrational combined with the look the other way attitude of much of the west contibutes to an astoundingly shameful episode of recent history. The film does much to illuminate and educate."
A memorable performance in an unforgettable horror story
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 1994 when Rwanda descended into the bloody madness of genocide Paul Ruseasabagina (Don Cheadle) was reasonably secure in his process. He belonged to the Hutu majority that was slaughtering the minority with machetes and he was the manger of the five-star Hotel Milles Collines in Kigali. But his wife, Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo), is Tutsi and the Tutsi are not only being called "cockroaches" on the nonstop incendiary radio broadcasts they are being exterminated like them. Not only are his wife and children in danger, so is the rest of his family and so are the guests in his hotel. It is up to Ruseasabagina to do something about this madness simply because there is nobody else to do the job (it would be easier to call the character Paul, but given the story it seems important to focus on the fact he was an African).

"Hotel Rwanda" is a true story, and even though we know going in that Ruseasabagina is going to save over a thousand refugees this is still a harrowing story. For the most part the genocide happens outside the walls of the hotel, but there are enough scenes and stories of what is happening to make it clear that the people huddled in the hotel are in mortal danger. What is probably the most unforgettable moment comes while a van is being driven through the fog and appears to have gone off the road (the DVD extras also contain scenes of the unforgettable way the Tutsi have memorialized the victims of the slaughter at one location).

The explanation for why the United Nations, the Europeans, the Americans, or anybody else with a speck of humanity in them does not intervene to stop the genocide is articulated by the Colonel Oliver character played by Nick Nolte, who tells Ruseasabagina that the problem is that these are just black Africans killing other black Africans. The words are spoken in disgust and are brutal, but they are horribly true and what redeems Oliver is not only that is he is willing to articulate the brutal truth but that there will come a point where orders to stand by and do nothing are no longer going to be obeyed. Likewise, the cameraman played by Joaquin Phoenix provides a memorable scene as the Europeans leave the Milles Collines and the character is so shamed not only by the retreat but also by the presence of a hotel employee holding an umbrella over their heads in the pouring rain.

But there is one person who cannot turn his back on what is happening. Ruseasabagina is literally the right person in the right place, because only the hotel could have become a refuge for the Tutsi and only the manager of a five-star hotel could have known exactly how to placate the military men leading the massacre. Not only does he speak their language, there is a sense in which they want to speak his as well, showing that even though their arms are covered in blood they can play the role of a civilized man. Cheadle's performance, deservedly nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, is appropriately controlled just as Ruseasabagina had to be in persuading these thugs to help him. He cracks only once when a mundane part of his preparing for his job suddenly becomes an impossibility to manage. He is also a hero who is flawed, making mistakes and trying desperately to do the right thing, even if that means forcing his wife to make a fateful promise or abandoning his family to try and save others.

There is an obvious comparison to be made between "Hotel Rwanda" and "Schindler's List." But watching this 2004 film I could not help thinking that if during the Holocaust there had been images of Nazis herding Jews into the concentration camps on the nightly news nobody would have done anything either (but if a whale is trapped in an ice flow in the arctic a rescue mission shall be sent). Stories such as this emphasize the small number doing good against the large number doing evil, but there is always that even larger number signifying all the people who do nothing and assent to the evil by their silence. Those who watch "Hotel Rwanda" will find themselves counted among that final number and should well remember that even if they were oblivious to what happened in Rwanda history will repeat itself is this regard and give us another chance to do the right thing."
Deeply touching, enraging, saddening film
Jonathan Appleseed | 01/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If this film had been released at any other time in our history, it would still be a powerful, inspiring film. That it was released while we are spending billions upon billions of dollars killing people to instill democracy in Iraq makes it all the more significant. Yes, I realize that the Rwanda situation occurred during the Clinton administration, so I'm not blaming Bush for this catastrophe. That would be ridiculous. But I *am* blaming the West for turning their back on a country in desperate need. The horrible truth is that the West - in general - simply doesn't care about Africa, which is a point bluntly made in the film by Nick Nolte's character. He said something along the lines of: "You just don't matter. You're black."

This movie isn't the story of the Rwanda genocide. At times, I found myself wishing, perhaps out of morbid curiosity that it was. I'm glad, however, that we saw very limited instances of the massacres because, frankly, in today's age of television being everywhere, I've seen enough real life bombings to last a lifetime.

This movie instead is the story of a man who is a manager of a four star Belgian hotel, who was at first hesitant to become involved in the political upheaval surrounding him. Instead, he turned the four star hotel that he ran into a refugee camp of those fleeing the Hutus, though he himself was a Hutu and could have avoided the trouble simply by claiming his Hutu heritage and leaving the confines of the hotel. But his wife was Tutsi, so of course he could not leave her.

Don Cheadle, who plays Paul Rusesabagina, does a miraculous job. He is perfectly contrite as a good hotel manager should be, his emotions well contained, and his accents perfect. The genocide comes as a surprise to him, for he seems to believe (in the film at least) in the general goodness of man; that the warnings heard on the radio that the Hutus will be killing Tutsi's like flies are not to be taken seriously.

One of the most interesting moments in the film came when a reporter, played by Joaquin Phoenix asked two women: how can you tell the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi? They explained that Hutus generally had wider noses, and mentioned some other "structural" differences. He asked the two girls what they were. One was Hutu, the other Tutsi. He expressed surprise, as did I, for I thought the two could have been sisters. It's a very pointed commentary on the ridiculousness of the bloodbath that occurred. People were divided by how they looked - and in some cases, you couldn't tell the difference at all.

Bring that back home to America...we're still having some of those same problems in our country. Thankfully, those problems aren't likely to break out into genocide, although they do cause some rather ugly turf wars. But there is a mirror here that reflects those exact problems that led to genocide - we are not immune.

This movie was uplifting, wonderfully acted, and deeply touching. It also enraged me, and as I left the theater I commented to my friend that I was embarrassed to be from the West.

I disagree with one reviewer that it would be an embarassment to give Oscar nods to Million Dollar Baby, Ray, or others over this film. There are many worthy contenders this year. Don Cheadle certainly deserves consideration for Best Actor, but can we honestly say that his performance was more moving and emotive than Jamie Foxx's? Anyway - my only point is that this movie is just as worthy of Oscar consideration as many other films released this year. It will be an Oscar's ceremony that I will be interested to watch."