Hotel Rwanda: History vs Hollywood

The Hutu’s were seen as inferior and insufficient human beings (“Rwanda 1994”). This thoughtless division of classes created a long term resentfulness of the Tutsi’s from the Hutu’s. But even before Belgium rule, the Tutsi’s and the Hutu’s still had a strong distinction of the two (Snow). The Tutsi’s were the landowners while the Hutu’s were often the peasants or land workers (“Rwanda 1994”). When Rwanda gained independence through a League of Nations mandate, Hutu’s began to rebel and eventually took power.

After years and years of dispute and corruption in Rwandan government, Tutsi rebels fought back and a civil war began (Kurth). In 1993, a ceasefire was constructed and Rwandan president held news of peace and negotiation (Kurth). Before this peace could be achieved, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down by extremists (“Rwanda 1994”). Hutu’s blamed the Tutsi rebels, and began spreading the word, through mouth and radio that the Tutsi population and Hutu’s that supported Tutsi’s, all needed to be killed (Lovgren).

This marks the beginning of the genocide. However, the movie does not give a very detailed or accurate description of the clash between the two. It gives the viewer the idea that the Belgians were the primary reason why the dispute started, however this division was marked ever since there were separate classifications. That is where the movie is embellished to blame Belgians and create an even more dramatic effect. A day after the Rwandan president was killed the mass murder of Tutsi’s began.

In Hotel Rwanda, you can see the beginning of the horror when Paul’s neighbor gets dragged out of his house and beaten. Shortly after, his neighbors flee to his house and hide, and are then after greeted by Hutu soldiers ready to kill. Paul continues to dodge the Hutu soldiers through bribery and will eventually give up all of his valuable possessions and money to the Hutu’s in exchange for survival. Amidst the horror and massive death toll, Paul continued to harbor children, neighbors, family members, and other desperate Tutsi’s in his hotel.

At one point, there was over 1,000 refugees in his hotel. UN soldiers guarded the hotel for part of the genocide, until one of the most frustrating parts of the movie occurs. At this point of the film, the UN colonel tells Paul that they can no longer intervene at the hotel and that they are virtually alone, because “You’re back… You’re an African. ” This reason as to why they would not intervene is not true, considering the UN and United States troops intervened in Somalia to help save black Muslims the year before.

This is yet another historical inaccuracy, and it proves to be an attempt to strengthen the plot of the story. The truth of why the UN left is that there was too many deaths of soldiers, and the UN was usually not lenient to help Christians, which is what the Tutsi’s were. After the departure of UN soldiers, the situation at the hotel only becomes worse. Water supply is cut, food is scarce, and Paul is forced to leave the hotel to obtain more supplies which is very dangerous. He comes to find that the situation is even worse than he thought, and the dead corpses of Tutsi’s covered the land.

However, a historical inaccuracy is shown through the very little violence, and gives the viewers a false perception of the genocide. If the movie was rated R, perhaps it would have given a much more accurate view of the disgusting murders and massive amounts of rape. Almost a million Tutsi’s were raped and slaughtered with machetes, and the most gruesome part of it all is that the Hutu’s targeted younger children in hopes of wiping out the future generation (“Rwanda 1994”). The little violence in the movie could make viewers doubt the severity of the situation.

Paul holds his power and courage through the long days and long weeks of the genocide, bribes many soldiers, and eventually will use his persuasion to receive the help of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to help guard the thousand people sheltered in his hotel. Eventually, through hard work and lots of phone calls, Paul gets the UN to come and deport the Tutsi’s in the hotel to neighboring countries for safety. Through the movie, one would think that the genocide only lasted only a few weeks due to the unorganized perception of time.

However, these events happened from April 1994 to June 1994 (“Rwanda 1994”). This movie certainly depicts a cynical theme, showing that the Tutsi’s were completely innocent and the Hutu’s were war mongrels who thrived for bloodshed. This may be partially true, but through the background information to why the genocide occurs; there is a clear and evident historical inaccuracy. The previous mistreatments of Hutu’s lead to this, and can give partial blame to the Tutsi’s, which is what the movie fails to describe.

Paul Rusesabagina provides a heart-clenching story through “Hotel Rwanda”, and proves that one of the themes shown, (one man can make a difference in the world), is highly acceptable and is proven through his successes. Regardless of the historical inaccuracies, the movie, for me, was well written. However, I felt the viewpoint of the story was very Americanized and did not portray the full truth of it all, which is very disappointing. I think that it could have focused more on the facts rather than the relationships, heartfelt, and so on, but that is one of the primary reasons why this movie is Hollywood not history.

This movie is made to have the viewer feeling knowledgeable and guilty for the Tutsi’s, and maybe even leading them to want to support the cause. However, the real truth will never be shown to the entire public because the truth is not what people want to hear, and I feel that all successful movies in America do not show the truth to it all. In the end, Hotel Rwanda was nominated in almost all of the top movie award ceremonies, and depicted a great story with true effort.

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