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 » of one man's brave stance against savagery during the 1994 Rwandan conflict. Sophie Okonedo (Dirty Pretty Things) co-stars as the loving wife who challenges a good man to become a great man. As his country descends into madness, five-star-hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle) sets out to save his family. But when he sees that theworld will not intervene in the massacre of minority Tutsis, he finds the courage to open his hotelto more than 1,200 refugees. Now, with a rabid militia at the gates, he must use his well-honed grace, flattery and cunning to protect his guests from certain death. *2004: Actor, Hotel Rwanda« less
Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY 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.
Lisa B. from DOUGLASVILLE, GA 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.
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."
Too powerful to be described by mere words
Amanda Richards | Georgetown, Guyana | 05/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Kite Runner" may be the best book I have read in recent history, and without a doubt, "Hotel Rwanda" wins the corresponding prize for movies. Unable to believe the senseless violence and slaughter of innocents, my eyes opened wider and wider as the movie progressed, until at some point, the tears could not be held back any longer.
Don Cheadle aces a career making role as Paul Rusesabagina, the quiet, understated hotel manager of a five star hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, who breaks every rule in the management book to protect not only the hotel guests, but refugees from both sides of the genocide that rocked Rwanda in 1994, while the rest of the world looked the other way.
A Hutu by birth and passport stamp, Paul is married to a Tutsi woman (Sophie Okonedo, whose voice changes drastically in octave as the role demands), and by this distinction, his children are also Tutsi, and therefore branded as cockroaches to be exterminated.
Because of his position and well-placed contacts, Rusesabagina is able to cling tenuously to his little safe house, putting up a brave front for the 1200 people he is sheltering from the Hutu tribal forces. When he finds out that the UN peacekeepers cannot help them, and that the rest of the world doesn't want to know about African problems, he resorts to the local language, securing protection by whatever means necessary from the authorities, led by General Bizimungu, who has a weakness for Scottish water of life, foreign currency and self preservation. Being only human, and in a crisis situation, he makes crucial errors in judgment, but by his conviction he manages to hold it all together for as long as necessary.
There are too many powerful scenes to describe, and you have to watch the movie to fully appreciate the horror. There are no gory images as in "Saving Private Ryan" or "Blade", but the Director manages to effectively portray the despair and mass killings without being offensively graphic or crude. One of the most heart rending scenes takes place on a road in the early morning fog, and this is the final straw that rips through Rusesabagina's brittle façade of being in control.
Joaquin Phoenix (you know I have to mention him), in a small role as a cameraman sums it up best when he said "I've never been so ashamed."
This one is a must see.
Amanda Richards, May 23, 2005 "
One of Most Powerful Movies I Have Seen
James H. Shrader | Philadelphia, PA United States | 01/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just several hours ago I watched this movie in the only theater within my my area that is actually showing it, and I now feel compelled to write my first review for Amazon.com. This is one of the most powerful movies I have ever watched, and it has evoked a wide range of emotions within me: shame for the West's apathy towards the Rwandan Genocide, disgust for the heartless murders that took place, and admiration for those who had the courage to actually try and make a differance rather than just wash their hands of the affair through hollow words and shallow sentiments. Hotel Rwanda has been called "The African Schindler's List", due to the seeming ability of one man--a Hutu hotel manager--to save the lives of over 1200 Tutsi refugees. The parallels are of course salient, but in a sense the fact this occurred only ten years ago injects the element of shame and pertinency into the movie for *our* generation.
Don Cheadle does an excellent job playing Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager. His authentic delivery and emotion throughout the film are incredible, and frankly I believe he deserves the oscar, even though Jamie Foxx himself was outstanding in Ray. The supporting cast all do an admirable job as well, and one of the delights of this film was that the second half is an almost a completely African one, save for Nick Nolte and the faceless UN soldiers. I would highly encourage anyone curious about this film to see it. We all have been exorted to never forget the Holocaust, and to pay our homage through the various films, books, and museums that have made their way into the collective consciousness thanks to the media. Like the Holocaust, we should never forget this; indeed we have a duty not to forget and to make sure it remains in our memory because we, as "The West", had the power to make sure the words "Never Again" rang true, and unfortunately we failed.
One wonders at times whether or not the destiny of Africa is to suffer. It's sad to note the plight of this region and of Africa as whole since the Rwandan genocide. The neighboring country of the Congo has suffered 3-4 million dead in a horrific yet almost wholly ignored civil war (with Rwandan participation) while Sudan's Darfur crisis has once again tested Western and UN resolve. When will "Never Again" mean Never Again? "