Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!
Directed by Terry George
Quick synopsis… The harrowing true story of a hotel manager who, against all odds, housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees in a near hopeless effort to save their lives during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.
- Paul (Don Cheadle) is the manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
- Tensions are high between Rwanda’s Hutu controlled government and Tutsi rebels.
- A false sense of peace exists briefly when the United Nations’ Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte) negotiates peace between the two ethnic groups.
- But that peace is quickly broken when the Hutu president is assassinated by Tutsi rebels.
- Paul doesn’t think that makes sense…
- Why would the Tutsi kill the president who just agreed to peace?
- It isn’t long before civil war breaks out and genocide begins.
- Paul is able to negotiate safety for his family and their neighbors, narrowly avoiding being forced to see them all killed.
- He takes them to the hotel where he begins taking on more and more refugees brought in by the U.N. and the Red Cross.
- The situation continues to worsen as Paul does his best to divert Hutu soldiers, protect his family, care for the refugees, and keep up appearances as a fully functioning hotel.
- I’ve gotta say… This movie is so hard to watch.
- And I know I say that from a protected bubble in the United States.
- In 1994, I was worried about finishing my 8th grade year and escaping the personal hell that was middle school.
- I had no idea the hell that people were desperate to escape on the other side of the world.
- And I can use the excuse that I was 14, sure.
- But even as an adult, would I have paid attention to any news coming out of Africa?
- Was there any news coming out of Africa?
- Did it make headlines, this genocide in Rwanda?
- Or was it buried under the national news, worked in somewhere around the middle of the evening broadcast?
- As seen in the film, the U.N. seems more interested in securing safe passage for foreigners than they are in putting a stop to the genocide or even in transporting the refugees to safety.
- It’s sickening…
- They practically sentence these people to death by leaving them behind.
- Except the refugees have Paul fighting for them.
- Eventually, UN forces evacuate the refugees.
- Paul and his family make it behind Tutsi rebel lines.
- According to title cards at the end, Paul’s actions saved at least 1,200 Tutsi and Hutu refugees.
- The genocide came to an end in July of 1994, which means that in the course of only a few months, a million people were killed.
- Don Cheadle is fantastic in this movie and absolutely deserved his Oscar nomination for the role.
- Having now seen Hotel Rwanda, it currently ranks at 844 out of 2,249 movies on my personal Flickchart list.
I was warned that this would be a difficult movie to watch. Another film to add to my list of great movies that I’ll only watch once. Have you seen Hotel Rwanda? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know down in the comments! Next week’s movie is one I know to have a fantastic soundtrack, The Magnificent Seven. I did see the recent remake, but I’ve never taken time to watch the original.