Hotel Rwanda

Saw Hotel Rwanda, the story of hotelier Paul Rusesabagina who saved the lives of more than a thousand refugees in the Rwandan genocide. I like Don Cheadle a lot and think he’s a great actor (though more of a supporting type than a leading) and the story has some great elements that makes you ask yourself hard questions about the nature of humanity. I suppose the greatest thing about this movie is how it forces you to think of what you would do under extreme duress. Would you have the presence of mind to hold to your outwardly professed principles in times of adversity?

Paul was a man of impeccable conduct who distinguished himself by serving those in power not only from his native land but well-heeled tourists, officials and businessmen who were more or less in transit. Born a Hutu (actually mixed though not mentioned in the movie) and with a Tutsi wife and children, the sudden plunge into genocide forces him to take charge, put everything on the line, and call in all the favors he spent his career accumulating.

In the end almost everyone abandoned him when he ran out of favors and bribes but he pulled through. He was a man of great courage and principle but it wasn’t instantly apparent. He gradually grew into the great role that fate had in store for him but also made some bad decisions that ultimately got his brother and sister-in-law killed.

I think I’ve seen too many violent movies of late and the fact is true stories don’t have the same manufactured drama of well-written works of fiction. It’s really not a movie to watch for the sake of watching a movie but to give you a sufficiently packaged reality to ponder. What would you do when the world around you turns inside out and self-preservation isn’t guaranteed? It also makes a case for the strength of family bonds in times of adversity. Don’t expect to be entertained but be prepared to be provoked.