Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hotel Rwanda: The Opinio Juris Review

I saw Hotel Rwanda the other day with students from my Human Rights class. (Yes, it finally has been released in the Midwest.) If you haven't yet seen it, go. And take your students. Talk about it in class. It is rare when a Hollywood film addresses issues central to international law and human rights; rarer still when it goes to wide release and gets nominated for Academy Awards. My students have only vague memories of the events of the early 1990s, and the film medium is perfectly suited to bringing the tragedy of the Rwandan genocide to life. I will leave the acting and directing reviews to the professionals, but it is worth saying that you barely notice the acting (itself a good sign) in a film which immediately draws you in by the horrors about to unfold.

One thing left me intitially puzzled: the confusing and rather skimpy background on the Arusha peace process, the origins of the RPF and the assassination of President Habyarimana. I left the theater wondering if that would leave most viewers without the appropriate political context. It wasn't until the next day -- this is the kind of film that stays with you for a while -- that I realized the historical fuzziness was likely intentional. Whatever the facts are about who fought whom or who had the most to gain politically or economically from the Arusha Accords, nothing can "explain" genocide. No background is really needed.

What is well developed -- and helped with a haunting score that sounds the drumbeats of death -- is the role of Radio Mille Collines, which used the airwaves as an efficient medium to communicate the commands to kill. The extent to which the radio enabled the Interhamwe to carry out the genocide in a country that did not have the kind of machinery of death of the Nazis was not widely recognized until well after the genocide. The role of the broadcasters as the "command and control" of the genocidaires was revealed in the trials and convictions of three RMC "journalists" before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

I have not read Paul Rusesabagina's autobiographical book on which the film is based, but understand from other sources that certain characters are composites (Nick Nolte as a Canadian Colonel in charge of the understaffed and doomed UN mission is based, loosely, on UNAMIR commander Romeo Dallaire). The extent to which the hotel, owned by the Belgian company Sabena, is spared from the killing because of its connection to powerful elites in the West is a bittersweet commentary on the utter failure of the West to intervene in any meaningful way to prevent or stop the slaughter outside the hotel gates. Rusesabagina is the main character, a decent, hardworking hotel manager who has bought into the product the Europeans and Americans have sold him: seamless customer service, a fine scotch, and a good Cuban cigar are the trappings civilization. He seems to suppress the misdeeds of the Belgian and German colonials (whose creation and exploitation of ethnic differences had left a scarred legacy on the region) And he doesn't realize, until it is too late, that geopolitics matter, and that western indifference to Africa would leave him and his countrymen to fend for themselves. In a poignant scene, Joachin Phoenix's character, a western tv cameraman who gets rare footage of some of the killing, cynically and, it turned out, accurately, predicts to Rusesabagina that outside help would not be coming: "If people see this footage, they'll say, 'Oh my God, that's terrible,' and they'll go on eating their dinners.''

4 Comments:

Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 08.03
kate spade handbags, louboutin outlet, longchamp, true religion jeans, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike free, oakley sunglasses, nike outlet, coach purses, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, gucci outlet, coach outlet, oakley sunglasses, michael kors, coach outlet, kate spade outlet, coach factory outlet, christian louboutin outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, tory burch outlet, prada outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, burberry, burberry outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, nike air max, prada handbags, longchamp outlet, jordan shoes, longchamp outlet, louboutin, tiffany and co, replica watches, nike air max, tiffany jewelry

8/02/2015 10:10 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

new balance pas cher, air force, vanessa bruno, hermes, nike roshe run, mulberry, lacoste pas cher, sac guess, air jordan pas cher, michael kors, ray ban uk, nike blazer, hollister pas cher, michael kors, tn pas cher, nike air max, nike free run uk, north face, ray ban pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, nike air max, converse pas cher, michael kors, hollister, abercrombie and fitch, nike free, true religion jeans, true religion jeans, air max, longchamp pas cher, burberry, nike air max, vans pas cher, hogan, ralph lauren uk, true religion outlet, north face, sac longchamp, lululemon, timberland, louboutin pas cher, oakley pas cher

8/02/2015 10:11 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

north face outlet, beats by dre, mont blanc, oakley, nfl jerseys, p90x workout, valentino shoes, birkin bag, insanity workout, vans shoes, nike huarache, soccer shoes, herve leger, celine handbags, new balance, nike roshe, mac cosmetics, abercrombie and fitch, asics running shoes, mcm handbags, reebok shoes, lululemon, nike roshe, bottega veneta, longchamp, jimmy choo shoes, giuseppe zanotti, wedding dresses, north face outlet, babyliss, chi flat iron, ferragamo shoes, iphone 6 cases, nike trainers, baseball bats, nike air max, hollister, ghd, soccer jerseys, instyler, timberland boots, hollister

8/02/2015 10:13 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

pandora charms, karen millen, ugg boots, juicy couture outlet, juicy couture outlet, swarovski, pandora jewelry, hollister, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, ugg boots, converse, hollister, supra shoes, louboutin, montre pas cher, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, vans, uggs on sale, marc jacobs, ralph lauren, toms shoes, bottes ugg, thomas sabo, gucci, lancel, pandora charms, ray ban, ugg pas cher, ugg boots, replica watches, links of london, ugg boots, wedding dresses, nike air max, swarovski crystal, ugg boots uk, coach outlet, converse outlet
ninest123 08.03

8/02/2015 10:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home