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Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 historical drama sometimes referred to as an African Schindler's List, with good reason. It tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle) during the Rwandan genocide. Paul was a successful Hutu businessman who managed the five-star Hôtel des Mille Collines, and hid and protected refugees there.
The Rwandan genocide started when the Tutsi fell out of the power they had been assigned by the Belgians, who used to control their country. The darker-skinned Hutus (the majority the of Rwandan population) were once considered inferior. Hutu extremists felt that the Tutsi were their oppressors and needed to be wiped out completely. Paul finds himself in no real danger because he is a Hutu, but his Tutsi wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) is. After doing business with the very same Hutu extremists and witnessing horrific things done to his wife's people, Paul decides that he must do something about it and not let his neighbors and friends die. Refugees and orphans came to seek shelter in the Mille Collines hotel, and this powerful movie recounts that story.
It's cited as one of the most inspirational movies of all time. Paul Rusesabagina was contacted for help with writing the film.
It should be noted that this film sparked a fair amount of controversy over how true the events depicted in the film actually are. In April 2006, leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front Paul Kagame would come out to say that Rusesabagina is less than the hero he claims to be, and a whole book on the subject was published in 2008.
It should also be noted that, as stated above (and touched upon in the movie), the differences between the Hutu and the Tutsi were largely exacerbated by the Belgians, Rwanda's former colonial overlord. There are no real significant linguistic, physical or cultural differences between the two groups; in fact, the words originally seemed to correspond to status designations — roughly translated, "hutu" means "client" and "tutsi" means "patron".
Tropes used by the film:
- Badass Pacifist: Paul. It's one thing to stand up to psychotic, blood-crazed mobs when you're an armed ass-kicker. It's another thing altogether to do it when you're a hotel manager armed only with an iron backbone and wits.
- Based on a True Story: But dramatized for the sake of the movie.
- Bilingual Bonus: The hotel "Mille Collines", which means "the thousand hills", is another name for the country Rwanda.
- Dirty Coward: The Hutu who didn't actively take part in the genocide. And the French.
- And the rest of the world.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: And how!
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: The film depicts the genocide as being a consequence of this logic.
- Fake Nationality: Don Cheadle as a Rwandan. He won awards for the performance. Also Sophie Okonedo.
- Guile Hero: Paul.
- Heroic BSOD: Paul has one shortly after driving on a road covered with hundreds of mutilated corpses. It's the first moment when he's alone after the genocide begins.
- Colonel Oliver has one when he finds out the U.N. soldiers aren't going to protect the refugees or help them get out of the country.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: It seems like the horrors Paul witnessed motivated him to become the superhero War Machine.
- Leon is Paul's boss at head office in Belgium.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Paul's boss in Belgium, Mr. Tillens, who does what he can to help Paul and the refugees.
- Improbable Weapon User: Subverted; Paul finds his wife and family hiding in a shower, wielding a shower hose as a weapon. He even points out, "What were you going to do with this?!" especially since the water was turned off by that point.
- It Got Worse: Most of the movie, up to the ending.
- Les Collaborateurs: One of Paul's hotel employees is a virulent Hutu partisan who tells the militia about the location of the Tutsi refugees.
- Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition: There's lots of bonus material if you buy even the Vanilla Edition, though, including DVD Commentary by the real Paul Rusesabagina himself.
- Police Are Useless: The United Nations soldiers, but not by choice.
Jack: I'm only allowed to leave four soldiers stationed here, Paul. And they're not allowed to shoot.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: According to the real Paul Rusesabagina, the level of violence was downplayed for the film, saying "You couldn't invite someone to watch the real thing."
- Rape as Drama: Happens to the Tutsi women and girls captured by Rutaganda and his militiamen. Unfortunately, this is very much Truth in Television, since this often happened in real life during the genocide.
- Scary Black Man
- Sword Drag: The Hutu militia does this, sliding their machetes against the ground while closing in on the Tutsi refugees.
- Take a Third Option: Given the choice between shooting the Tutsi refugees or being shot himself, Paul instead bribes the soldier holding him at gunpoint into releasing them.
- Take That:
Jack: "I think if people see this footage, they'll say oh my God, that's horrible. And then they'll go on eating their dinners."
- Thanatos Gambit: It's theorized that the assassinated President Habyarimana did this so it would give his followers an excuse for committing the genocide (which was pre-planned). The movie takes this angle.
- Wham! Line:
George Rutaganda: "Cut the tall trees. Cut the tall trees now!"
- Would Be Rude to Say Genocide: The UN refused to call it a genocide, despite obvious evidence that the Tutsi population was being massacred. Definitely a cowardly form of Loophole Abuse.
- The Insistent Terminology on the part of the US government, the UN, etc. was a lot more cynical than it seems on face. International law on genocide requires all parties to intervene to prevent or punish genocide. If they called it genocide, they'd have to do something about it.