Last Updated 20 Jun 2022

How Is the Theme of Genocide Presented in Hotel Rwanda

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The Official Oxford English dictionary defines genocide as the `deliberate killing of a very large number of people from a particular ethnic group or nation. ' It also is said as a holocaust. Holocaust is the great or complete devastation or destruction or any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life and it is normally referred to the genocide of the Jews that happened during the period of 1939 to 1945. The two genocide we are focusing on are the genocide of the Jews during the second world war and the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi's in 1994.

Directed by Terry George in Hotel Rwanda and Mark Herman in The Boy in Stripe Pyjamas, they have a similarity between the films they are both rated a 12 year old. Instead of recreating the horrors of genocide in both films they use the naivety of a boy and the hope of survival to present the story mentally. The difference between the films is the fact that one is a fictional representation of a real event and another one is a true story recreated. The effect of this is to compare the feelings of someone who actually been through a genocide and someone who have not been through this.

Hotel Rwanda was released in 2004 and is based on a true story about the genocide of the Tutsi's in 1994, it documents the life of Paul Rusesabagina during the period he housed over a thousand refugees in his hotel Hotel Mille Collines. Directed by Terry George who is also the co-write of the book and with Paul's help they manage to make the film as truthful as possible and changing fewer things as possible and they done this perfectly but also managed to avoid recreating the horror of the genocide and haunting the survivors again.

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Lasting only 100 days, over one million Tutsi's and Hutu's were brutally massacred. But despite the incoming fear of ever Tutsi being wiped out, Paul managed to save 1268 Hutu's and Tutsi's. Two recurrent themes jump out from the movie. First, that everything has a price. Paul Rusesabagina pays for his families and neighbours' freedom and life by bribing an army officer, even negotiating the price for each. He is able to purchase beer and scotch for the hotel from the distributor, as long as he is willing to pay the price demanded.

He consistently bribes the army eneral for protection for the hotel's occupants from the armed militia. And when the bribes run out, so does the protection. The second major theme is one of self-reliance, or absence of external help. Throughout the movie it is repeated that the "West" refuses to help or does not value the Rwandans enough to intervene in the genocide. The West's refusal to intervene is seen when the UN peacekeeping force has orders to not use their weapons. It's seen in the size of the UN peacekeeping force, reduced to 260 men at the beginning of the genocide and civil war in 1994.

In the movie this last reduction proved a false hope for the survivors holed up in the hotel. UN `reinforcements' arrive, only to evacuate many UN peacekeepers and foreign citizens from Rwanda and the hotel, respectively. There is also an episode where certain Rwandans who have foreign connections are granted visas to leave the country because of the intervention of their friends. The contrast of this action to the West's non-intervention is stark. "Who you know" becomes a factor in survival. The distributor where Paul purchases supplies is a member of the Hutu militia.

But because he knows him and has had a business relationship with him for years, he's able (at a price) to still secure supplies for the hotel residents. The film started with a black screen, this is to make the viewers think of a certain way abut what happened in Rwanda in 1994. This is a story about good verses evil. An ominous African voice in heard, in real life, it was a Belgian broadcaster called George Ruggiu, clearly the broadcaster of RTLM a Hutu extremist propaganda, broadcasting 24 hours a day. The voice is saying the Tutsi's are `coachroaches'.

The voice is black and cataclysm unfathomable, and the black screen underscores the evil darkness of Africa and the evil yet to come. The voice of terror returns throughout the film to haunt the innocent but terrified Tutsi's, the effect is to make the audience fear, to experience what the Tutsi's felt, the constant danger approaching. In the film, the good guys are the Tutsi's, the victims of genocide. They aren't he killers in the movie: they were never the killers. The Interahamwe were portrayed as the violent killers and were responsible for the slaughter of one million Rwandans.

Formed by groups of young Hutu's, they together carried out the horrendous act. During the period of tension, before the genocide officially happened a lot of machetes were purchased from various places and prepared to wipe out the next generation of Tutsi's. Vice President of the Interahamwe was George Rutaganda, he paid HIV infected men to rape the women and children in order to ensure that the next generation cannot at all exist, despite the fact that it was the Hutu's destroying the Tutsi's, the President of the Interahamwe, Robert Kajuga, is a Tutsi and helped to wipe out his own people.

Majority of the time we were looking at Paul's' perspective as the camera looks over his shoulder and present to us what he is seeing. The music at most of the scenes was terrifying and dangerous, it portrayed danger and threat inside it, but when the scene with the orphans, the song shows hope, terror yet mixed up with light, brightness, new and fresh, the song is called `A million Voices' but it is quickly abandoned when the French soldier said "No Rwandans" it starts to get gloomy, cold, miserable and rains heavily.

This film gives you alot of hope, but the hope quickly distinguished and broken into little pieces their hope of life. This is to make the audience value life and learn to respect and look after it, but also gives peaks of tension throughout the film, and making your terrified, yet so wanting to see the ending. At the end of the film, when the guerilla force is shown the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) they are rescuers. They are disciplined and organised.

They kept a tidy United Nations camp safety behind their lines. They don't kill nurses and charity workers or orphaned children, and in the film: they reconnect children to their families and gives them hope to live on. But the RPF were equally dehumanizing and vicious, but the film does not tell us this, both sides were fighting to wipe out their enemy, not to protect their kind. The theme of genocide is presented to you so it doesn't visually tell you the story they do that mentally.

They paint you a picture throughout the film, the rapidly descending darkness and bloodshed, but of course the glimmer of hope remains above it, the hope is Paul Rusesabagina (Played by Don Cheadle). He shines like a angel, throughout the film over 1200 refugees relied on him, when they have no where to go, he harbours them, when they have nothing to eat, they trust him to bring food back from the Interahamwe camp, when they need to bribe for protection, they gave him all their money to bribe for protection and police.

He protects them with his life, and they think he is a great hero. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas was released in 2008 and directed by Mark Herman and written by John Boyne. It is about the Jewish Holocaust in 1939 to 1945, and is portrayed through the eyes of a native 8 year old boy who had his childhood innocence destroyed. To make the audience believe that a 8 year old boy didn't know why Jews were bad and how they corrupted German citizens was difficult especially when everyone were taught how Jews were so bad in the 1940's.

But eventually childhood innocence can really portray this film successfully. It isn't just the physical descriptions of the two homes that create contrast. The way characters behave and react to events also adds atmosphere. In his Berlin house, Bruno can see far and wide and likes what he sees. But when he arrived at his new home, the camera angle shot up, making the house look intimidating and gloomy, a place where he is trapped without friends, so eventually he picked up the courage and went exploring before meeting Schmuel.

Bruno first met him when he when he was bored and went out exploring, then he found this electric fence and saw Schmuel sitting their on his own, his first impression of him was a mixture of happiness and weariness. He wanted to become friends with him, and thinks he's extremely lucky to be able to play with friends and participate in a game, their numbers on their `funny uniforms', but never will Bruno guess this is a concentration camp where people are brutally tortured and killed And his father is the commander of this camp.

After a few meetings with Schmuel he finally realises he is a Jew, and his tutor taught him `Jews are the most horrible kind of people on earth, they corrupt our people and they are the culprit of making us lose the Great War" with this he was terrified of Schmuel, he quickly made up a excuse to go and was horrified of befriending a Jew, especially when he's grown up being taught Jews are the worst race ever, and blonde hair, blue eyes are the superior race. But after considering what he is being taught over again, he quickly forgets the difference between them two and became friends again.

He asked about the place where the horrid smell came from, without realising it is a gas chamber, and nor did Schmuel know. During a regular release of German Propaganda film, Bruno happened to peek inside and view the video, after realising the supposingly good condition the camp was in he was extremely proud of his father, never did he know again that his father made the fake film, and is actually keeping the Jews weak and close to death before killing them. This shows he strongly believes in what he is shown, the naivety of the young boy.

He soon forms a strong bond with Schmuel, they became good friends and that's what sent Bruno to his death. After Bruno died his father realises the terror and the pain of knowing a family member or own child being gassed to death, he finally saw the blood on his hands and regrets it. During the last bit, when the picture of the door to the gas chamber expands out, it plays sad and gloomy, dark and lifeless music, the music sounds like a heartbeat, but soon ends and with the never ending room where they put the pyjamas it shows us the amount of Jews they gassed.

Both films featured alot of complex camera angles. For example, it pans into Bruno's face when he saw the camp which he thought was a farm, this is to show his confusion off why the camp is there; it also let us view his emotions displayed on his face. Another scene is when Lieutenant Kotler goes vivid at Schmeul for eating a cake, the camera is looking up to him to demonstrate Lieutenant Kotler's power and superiority over a little Jewish boy. This is to create utter fear and decreases our thoughts of a happy film.

In Hotel Rwanda, some of the scenes that have this effect is the bit where Paul clambers out of the truck and is petrified to see the amount of bodies, the camera angle there stretches into his perspective and letting us see the countless amount of bodies; they also have dislocated arms and bodily parts and blood in them - the reason for this is to make us realise the horror and fear the reality of genocide. Another part in Hotel Rwanda is when a Hutu extremist climbs into the truck deporting Tutsi's away; they camera angle zooms in close to Paul's wife showing her fear and paralysed to do anything while being threatened by a machete.

Although both these film portrayed a incredible sadness to them and a bit of blood, they are rated 12 because it doesn't actually show use anyone in the process of getting killed. Both of the ending is different from one and another. In The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas it ended with despair and hopeless but in Hotel Rwanda it ended with sadness yet hidden there is a spark of hope and happiness. At the beginning of Hotel Rwanda it start with a black screen and a voice of terror speaking, and in The boy in the Striped pyjamas it start with the theme of child's innocence, both films started and ended dramatically different, creating a contrast.

In conclusion I think Hotel Rwanda left a more distinctive image with me, as the sadness and hope sticks in my mind especially after they created this effect of hope rising and quickly distinguishing alot of times over a short time. The scenes in Hotel Rwanda that stands out is firstly the scene where he saw the bodies piled across the road and the what's happening outside of the Hotel when they left to go to collect provisions.

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