Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Hotel Rwanda

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Another day, another depressing film. This time Hotel Rwanda which plays in 1994 Rwanda when the Hutus started killing the Tutsis. While I’ve forgotten the names of quite a few African countries, I still remember Rwanda from when I learnt them in school. Back then I had difficulties remembering the names of the three little countries in the middle of Africa, but once I learnt they’re Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi from north to south, I never forgot.

So I knew that Rwanda existed and where it is before it came to the news. But that was about it. The genocide came into the news and we heard the numbers, but that doesn’t change too much. A bit of feeling helpless, some sighs and then on to the weather report. That’s how these kind of news are consumed. And that’s also what hotel manager, Paul, learns in the film: No matter how threatening the situation is at his door, it’s likely that people in Europe and America just won’t care or realise there’s a real problem. And if the voters don’t see a problem, the politicians won’t send help.

Paul is a real person and the film tells his story from back in 1994. Thus, unlike a documentary as Darwin’s Nightmare, it is well-filmed, has a clear story line and real actors. It also doesn’t try to give you information on how and why the genocide started and on the history behind it. It just focuses on Paul’s story and how he, being both Hutu and the manager of a hotel for foreigners owned by Sabena, managed to save the lives of many people.

The way to achieve this wasn’t straightforward or easy. In fact it could’ve gone wrong at any stage and included most potential sources of support breaking away and many hard and depressing lessons being learned. So while the main story of Paul and the people in his hotel found a good ending, with them being able to leave the country, many hard questions stay once the film is over. How can people start slaughtering their neighbours with machetes? How can the rich countries decide to simply ignore this? How comes we simply ignore these things when they’re on telly?

Other notes: Go and see this film. / The job of people like the UN general in the film must be quite depressing as well. I assume they want to help and they know that in theory they could. But they can’t and they have to face the people who suffer from it. / Extra nice role for Jean Reno as Paul’s über-boss at Sabena in Brussels.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

April 7, 2005, 23:06

Tagged as film, hotel rwanda, sabena.


Comment by Anonymous: User icon

Paul was Hutu and it was Hutu killing Tutsi

April 11, 2005, 23:44

Comment by ssp: User icon

My bad, I corrected that.

April 11, 2005, 23:59

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