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HOTEL RWANDA

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HOTEL RWANDA

Moderated by Weiko Lin
In class, we discussed the arc of Don Cheadle's character. What was his motivation for doing the things he did? What were his values? Did the ending work for you?
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Discussions Discussion HOTEL RWANDA
Dani Alcorn, Feb. 24, 2012

As we discussed in class Hotel Rwanda is an extremely well structured film. However, I will admit that something about the second half bothered me a little. Don Cheetle was set up as the guy who could grease wheels. Throughout the first half of the film he was very active, always throwing a perk or a favor to the right person to buy time. But after the midpoint he began to have less and less control over the situation. I felt like this loss of control undermined the shift in his character from wanting to protect just his family to wanting to protect all of the refugees. Broadening the scope of his efforts made him seem even more powerless.

I liked the idea behind the actual ending of the film (namely him deciding to take all of the orphans with him). The orphans had been introduced early enough in the film that it felt like a nice return to end with them. It was also a decision the Don Cheetle from the beginning would not have been able to make. But I felt like I wanted him to have one last favor tucked up his sleeve to use to get the children out. As it was, it seemed a little too deus ex machina for me.

Dani Alcorn
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Discussions Discussion HOTEL RWANDA
Haley Greenberg, Feb. 23, 2012

Hotel Rwanda is a great example of an adaptation of real events. It’s impressive when film makers take creative liberties and transform events into their own fictional adaptations, but I think it’s equally impressive when they manage to stay true to the facts and find ways to present them in non-documentary form. I first saw Hotel Rwanda in a history class. I did some research and found out that most of the events in the movie were actually very true. There was a Don Cheetle guy who protected his family and many others in a hotel until after the bloodbath ended. Despite the movie being extremely sad, I really enjoyed it. The filmmakers managed to transform a true and gory story into a movie that met classic movie structure standards. I think the structure of the film is what prevented it from becoming an off-the-beaten path indie film. People could relate to the structure, and to Don Cheetle’s hero-like character.

Haley Greenberg
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Discussions Discussion HOTEL RWANDA
Jon Gonçalves, Feb. 22, 2012

For a movie about genocide, the ending was a little too neat and happy for me. The film continually emphasized how the Western powers were doing little to stop the violence. Looking at how Don Cheadle’s family escaped, this still fit. There was no mass evacuation but shitty UN buses transporting refugees. Great. What bothered me a bit was how everybody happened to get reunited just in time.

Something I don’t recall discussing extensively in class was the use of the radio as a narrative device. In that, I really appreciate the research that went into somewhat condensing and depicting the motivation behind the genocide. It was introduced at the very beginning and appeared throughout in key scenes, and it seemed to be either a precursory for bloodshed or an item to trigger a strong emotional shift (ala Don Cheadle’s character seeing his staff huddled around a radio).

Jon Gonçalves
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