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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Hotel Rwanda:

Don´t expect a mint on your pilow
Don´t expect a mint on your pilow

Having been nominated for an Academy Award for best actor in a leading role (Don Cheadle), best actress in a supporting role (Sophie Okonedo), and best original screenplay, Hotel Rwanda finds itself in the spotlight. Yet, let us also not miss the incredible talent of Terry George, the director of Hotel Rwanda. In 1994, a civil war broke out in Rwanda between the Tutsis, who had collaborated with Belgian colonists, and the Hutus. As is explained in the movie, the division between the Tutsis and Hutus was created by Belgian colonists based solely on physical attributes, such as one’s skin color and the shape of their nose. The colonists had let the Tutsis control the country, but when the Belgians left Rwanda the Tutsis lost their power and the Hutus took revenge on the Tutsis. Within 100 days almost one million people were slaughtered in Rwanda and most of the world chose to ignore the conflict and left the Rwandan people with no cure.

It’s a huge subject for one movie to undertake and it could have easily ended up being a simple story of a hero that protects the lives of thousands of people during genocide. Nevertheless, Terry George has succeeded in creating a wider scope on which the audience can further expand the impact that Hotel Rwanda has, even after its ending. With this setting, the movie presents Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a Hutu manager of Hotel Mille Collines, whom during the conflict, provided shelter by using the hotel to house both Hutus and Tutsis, consequently saving the lives of 1,268 people. Even though he is a Hutu, Rusensabagina stands up for all Rwandan people whether they are Hutus or Tutsis, and because of this he soon becomes a target of the Hutus. Paul Rusesabagina tries to protect the lives of the people by all possible means, including bribing and threatening. There is rarely time for the audience to relax without being on the edge of their seats. Rusesabagina and his people were not safe until Tutsi forces started taking back control from the Hutus. Once they pass into Tutsi controlled territory, they are finally safe.

This movie seems to end happily with the people’s lives saved as they reach refuge. Yet, Terry George never forgets to present the undeniable issue that is present in genocide. While Paul and his people are crossing over the frontline, the film also shows hundreds of Hutu people being chased and killed by the Tutsi rebels. Even though Terry George doesn’t show what happened to the Hutu fugitives, having presented the breathless survival of Paul and his people, the audience can easily imagine that those Hutu people end up experiencing the same sufferings that the Tutsi endured. This suffering will never end as long as killing among the Rwandan people remains. The only solution to end this conflict is to unite the Hutus and the Tutsis, and establish a unified nation for all Rwandan people. Terry George expands upon this message by suggesting the ultimate goal of unifying all African people. “Ten years on, politicians from around the world have made the pilgrimage to Rwanda to ask for forgiveness from the survivors, and once more the same politicians promise ‘never again’, but it’s happening yet again in Sudan, or the Congo,” says Terry George on the Hotel Rwanda home page (http://www.mgm.com/ua/hotelrwanda/main.html). Terry George selected Million Voices by Wyclef Jean as the movie’s thematic song. In the song Wyclef cries out, “America is the United States of America/ then why can’t Africa be the United States of Africa?” Logically, why can’t we have the United States of the World? Hotel Rwanda is the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, who stood up for his people during genocide and protected the lives of thousands of people, no matter if they were Hutus or Tutsis. He ignored class division and united people in the name of Rwanda; in the name of Africa. Using this story of one brave hero, Terry George wants us to see the necessity in building a hotel for all of us to protect and unite the lives of oppressed people all over the world.