How is the theme of genocide presented in Hotel Rwanda
and The Boy in Striped Pyjamas?
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. 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 general 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...
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