9 Sep 2022


Hotel Rwanda: A Movie Review

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Movies are truly a depiction of society and its people. They are tools to educate the community by putting their habits in front of them in order to let them learn from what they see. This relevance is why great movies, based on true life stories, usually are made. Hotel Rwanda is a historical drama film about a hotel manager who saved the lives of 1200 people in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide ( Gudehus, Anderson & Keller, 2010) . It brings out the strength and wisdom that Paul Rusesabagina used in maintaining his hotel as a safe place for refugees of the war, and how he gave them hope at the expense of being with his whole family. It is important to understand the movie content, the cultural themes and societal issues raised so as to draw as much lessons as we possibly could from the art performance. In this essay, we shall address each of these four aspects and compare the themes to a similar movie in a bid to highlight how the producers impacted their audience. 

Movie Contents 

Hotel Rwanda is set in the eyes of Paul Rusesabagina, who is a hotel manager in a four-star hotel, named the Hotel Des Milles Collines. The audience can follow him on the political status of the country change from stable to mass killings between Hutu and Tutsi tribes’ people. The intention of the movie is to bring out the adversities that the Rwandese people experienced as a result of the genocide in their country, including the loss of property, displacement from their homes, and separation from their families. It also shows the tactics that helped these people survive including the hotel manager who continued his role and created an environment that hosted leaders from all groups including the UN and the government. The movie was produced in such a way as to allow for a systematic presentation of content. They chose to focus on one individual instead of on the millions of people who experienced the war in different ways. Owing to this, many aspects of the Rwandan political scene as at then are clearly brought out, and this includes the institutionalization of corruption. 

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On scene stands out in terms of its intensity, and this brings out the animosity that occasioned the genocide. The drive to the Diplomats hotel is filled with the depiction of the chaos that had engulfed the country at the time. Dead bodies are sprawled along the road. It is saddening that Paul’s daughter could recognize their neighbor’s body. Hutus can be seen chanting on the way and jeering at the cars. Later, the general refers to the Tutsi’s as cockroaches, which belittles their humanity, and shows the amount of hatred that had motivated the war. When the United Nation hesitates to help people because they are ‘peacekeepers’ and ‘not peacemakers’, it is an indication that they are not interested in the well-being of the Rwandese people (George et al., 2005). This fact is cemented when they leave the people to their means and evacuate all the Western Nationals. The movie unintentionally creates resentment towards the United Nations and the Western world because it shows that their self-interests were placed before the life of the genocide victims. 


Ethnic cleansing is a major theme that sets the foundation of conflict in this movie. Hotel Rwanda is produced at a time when the Hutus are taking revenge on Tutsis since they are finally in power. They feel entitled to land and all resources because after the colonialists had divided land, these warring tribes had been forced together and the Tutsis had taken more land because they had relatively more leaders in state high offices. The movie starts with a Hutu Radio broadcaster who speaks out of hatred for the Tutsis, referring to them as ‘black cockroaches' (George et al., 2005). Later, another broadcast is heard urging the Hutus to ‘cut the tall trees’ when speaking about killing the Tutsis and eliminating the generation to come. Paul Rusesabagina almost lost his life on many occasion because he protected the Tutsis in his hotel and was referred to as a traitor. He ensured peace for his people by giving bribes and maintaining is an authority as a hotel manager that sought respect. 

The desire to escape is also another theme that is well portrayed in the movie. At first, people had underestimated the threat that they otherwise would come to face when the war announcements were first made. However, the violence eventually reached most of Rwanda, and everyone fought to find their way out. Most people left the homes to seek refuge in UN camps and other places regardless of the fact that no welcome was extended. In the movie, we see the hotel manager complaining that he run a hotel, not a refugee camp, and therefore could not take on any more people. Eventually, after the United Nations left the desire to leave this troubled country grew, and Paul had to come up with a way to get those under his care out of the country. He asked his guests to shame those abroad into helping them by calling and writing letters. This fight eventually leads to their rescue 

Pop-cultural concepts 

There are a variety of sociocultural perspectives by which to analyze this movie. One way is the functionalist approach that suggests culture is the social glues that allow different groups to co-exist. Human obsession with status, celebrities and other forms of entertainment help individuals look past their differences ( Grazian, 2011) . Therefore, if culture is limited to one party, the division is a likely result. From this information, it explains how the hotel was able to run for so long into the war. The manager maintained that the status and esteem accorded by the hotel to all was maintained. Since celebrity and entertainment such as radio broadcast were already split people were divided, but the hotel culture of all-inclusivity created a safe place. 

The production can also be viewed from a critical view that explains how prevailing ideologies and cultural norms in any society serve to perpetuate the power of the ruling class. Inequity in communities is driven when beliefs of those in authority are continually spread through different mediums. Hotel Rwanda is a classic example of a society motivated by ideologies of a few individuals. The hatred among the people was shown by government authorities who used their influence in the media to turn people against each other. This art form is a depiction of how powerful such a tool is. The movie also attests to the use of media to send a message to the society because as a work of art it shames the injustices endured and serves as a reminder of mistakes that should be avoided in the future. 

The interaction approach is a sociocultural concept that results from this production. There is proof of the strength of informal systems of communication such as ‘word of mouth’ and ‘peer influence' ( Grazian, 2011). The hate speech spread against the Tutsi’s was all through word of mouth and people spreading rumors that they were bewitched. Individuals affected hatred in each other as is seen with the workers who collectively decided they did not want to their job anymore. This analysis is an indication of the strength that the society holds over its destiny in the culture is allows. 


In conclusion, the strongest issue within the movie is the effects of genocide on people. The murders, loss of property, separation of families and constant state of fear/animosity are some of the negative aspects that stemmed from the situation. This issue was depicted from the start to the end of the movie. The producers did highlight the issue of race minimally on one occasion where only the westerners were rescued from the crisis, and the rest were left to fend for themselves. It is almost similar to Blood Diamond released in 2006 and set at a time of unrest in Sierra Leone. Though the movie is also about the diamond mining conflict, they also show the cultural wars that cause mass murders. 


George, T., Pearson, K., Ho, A. K., Cheadle, D., Okonedo, S., Phoenix, J., Dube, D., ... Afro Celt Sound System (Musical group). (2005). Hotel Rwanda

Gudehus, C., Anderson, S., & Keller, D. (2010). Understanding Hotel Rwanda: a reception study. Memory studies , 3 (4), 344-363. 

Grazian, D. (2011). Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass . WW Norton & Company. 

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