Posted: 05/23/2011


Hotel Rwanda on Blu-ray

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Hotel Rwanda is such a sad movie, but again an uplifting movie to see how one man Paul Rusesabagina, played by smooth actor Don Cheadle, served as a conduit to rescue hundreds of people who are facing persecution because of their ethnicity—a distinction that was placed upon them by others.

Hotel Rwanda came to the big screen years ago, and now it’s available on Blu-ray.
The story details the 1994 Rwandan conflict between two groups of people—the Hutus and the Tutsis. After a plane carrying the president of Rwanda and the Hutu president of Burundi is shot down, a chain of civil unrest takes place. The Hutus go on a rampage around the country hacking off the limbs of the Tutsis, with shiny, sharp machetes they bought from China. The amazing thing is that Paul is a Hutu and he ends up harboring known Tutsis, even after saying that family is all that matters. His wife Tatiana, played by Sophie Okonedo, is also a Tutsi.

Hotel Rwanda is the true life story of a remarkable man. Paul is an influential man who is the manager at a local luxury resort. The movie opens with him currying the favors of military and businessmen alike with savory cigars and expensive whiskey. He tells his driver that he does this just in case he ever needs a favor. And boy it turns out that he needs big favors, before it’s all said and done.

After Paul is forced from his home, along with his immediate neighbors, he begs the militia to take him to the hotel where he can get them money. He takes all the money that he has to buy the freedom of others who are not his family members. Even as reporters were sending stories over to America and other countries, nobody paid much attention. When Paul sees that the world won’t respond and send help, he is compelled to save every one that he can, as European hotel guests check out and fly out of the country, supervised and protected by the United Nations. Now, Paul is responsible for 1,200 refugees.

During the uprising, which lasted three months, it is reported that around 800,000 people were brutally murdered, and Paul faces threats from his fellow Hutus, who are just as ready to chop off his limbs, also. Through perseverance, courage and the will of God, Paul is triumphant in the end, as outside military personnel come to save the lives of those who have made a “refugee camp” out of a hotel in Rwanda.

Hotel Rwanda is a great movie, and after all these years it is just as spellbinding in Blu-ray to see Cheadle’s compassion in a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination.
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Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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