Friday, January 21, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

Our Leonard Maltin class film this week was Hotel Rwanda. What can you say about a film like this? It's well-shot, well-acted, dramatic and thought-provoking. It shows admirable discipline in sticking to a well-told (and true) story when it would be easy and tempting to sabotage itself by digressing into more specific details of the historical context.

Suffice to say that it creates a thoroughly convincing Rwanda (not that I would know, but supposedly audience members who have actually been to Africa also say that it looks like Rwanda--it was actually mostly filmed elsewhere in Africa). The settings and characters never feel like part of a slick movie, they always feel authentic. And of course, the event that forms the backdrop to the story--the 1994 Rwandan genocide--is worth learning about.

There's way more to it than is in this movie (not that I know any of it), but for people like me, whose knowledge of it was limited to an awareness that it took place and was ignored, the added context of the movie really brought it to life and put a human face on it.

This is one of those movies, super-heavy, that is hard to enjoy. I doubt I'll ever re-watch it. But it's not made to be enjoyed, not in a popcorn sort of way, anyhow. It's made to be experienced, to give you a tiny hint of what that point in time and space was like. For that, it's an experience worth having.

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