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Hotel Rwanda [DVD]
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Harrowing drama set during the Rwandan conflict of the 1990s. The Rwandan conflict of the 1990s marked one of the bloodiest chapters in recent African history. Over the course of 100 days, almost one million people were killed. The streets of the capital city of Kigali ran red with rivers of blood, but no one came to help. There was no international intervention in Rwanda, no expeditionary forces, no coalition of the willing. There was no international aid for Rwanda. Rwanda's Hutu extremists slaughtered their Tutsi neighbors and any moderate Hutus who stood in their way, and the world left them to it. Amidst the horrendous violence and chaos that swept the country, one of the many heroes to emerge was Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), an ordinary man who, out of love and compassion, managed to save the lives of 1268 people. The manager of a hotel, Paul offered shelter to these refugees at considerable risk to his own safety.
Solidly built around a subtle yet commanding performance by Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda emerged as one of the most highly-praised dramas of 2004. In a role that demands his quietly riveting presence in nearly every scene, Cheadle plays real-life hero Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager in the Rwandan capital of Kigali who in 1994 saved 1,200 Rwandan "guests" from certain death during the genocidal clash between tribal Hutus, who slaughtered a million victims, and the horrified Tutsis, who found safe haven or died. Giving his best performance since his breakthrough role in Devil in a Blue Dress, Cheadle plays Rusesabagina as he really was during the ensuing chaos: "an expert in situational ethics" (as described by critic Roger Ebert), doing what he morally had to do, at great risk and potential sacrifice, with an understanding that wartime negotiations are largely a game of subterfuge, cooperation, and clever bribery. Aided by a United Nations official (Nick Nolte), he worked a saintly miracle, and director Terry George (Some Mother's Son) brings formidable social conscience to bear on a true story you won't soon forget. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
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With such dry matter this film could easily have become forgotten, much like the conflict in Rwanda was. However, the intelligent structure of the film showing the atrocities of war is coupled excellently with a family drama as a man is caught between saving his own or saving many.
The acting in the film is excellent with many top actors appearing in surprisingly small roles. It is left in Cheadle's hands to carry the film and he does this very well. The film is powerful and not overly violent, instead letting the imagination direct the audience rather than overly gory images. It is the kind of film that should be shown in high school classrooms to show the impact that ignorance and hatred can have in a society.
A moving film worth a watch by anyone young or old - worth a thousand popcorn films.
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