Intercultural Barriers in Film: Hotel Rwanda
Intercultural communication is “a method of communication that aims to share information across different cultures and social groups” (http://www.uslegal.com/). The challenges that may occur during this type of communication stem from misunderstanding or lack of trust of people customs that are foreign to the listener. This can cause many barriers when trying to initiate intercultural communication. I will be discussing the film Hotel Rwanda while analyzing the different intercultural barriers and diversity issues that are presented within the film.
Hotel Rwanda was released in 2004 and based on the story of the heroic acts of Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, during the Rwandan Genocide in the spring of 1994. Paul Ruseabagina was a hotel manager at the Hotel Des Mille Collines when these atrocities began. He managed to house over a thousand Tutsi refugees during the war that was led by the Hutu militia. This war started on April 4, 1994, one day after Tutsi rebels shot down the airplane of Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana. The war lasted until July 15th of that year; nearly a million Tutsi men, women, and children were slaughtered. The movie was written by Terry George and Keir Pearson, George also produced and directed the film, an adaptation of a screenplay written by Pearson.
There are many characters within the film that had a direct or indirect impact on Paul Rusesabagina and the Tutsi refugees he sheltered. Paul’s Tutsi wife, Tatiana Rusesabagina, was his top supporter; she was the main force pushing him to help those in need. Mr. Tillens, the president of the Belgian company, Sabena, which owned the Hotel des Mille Collines. He also supported and encouraged Pau, he tried to send help and do as much as he could from his headquarters in Belgium. Colonel Oliver, the only fictional character in the film, was based after Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire. He was the commanding officer of the UN peacekeeping mission; they were brought into Rwanda before the war started to keep the peace after the Rwandan president signed a peace treaty with the Tutsi rebel leader. Colonel Oliver tried to assist during the Rwandan war with no support from his superiors. Dube, a hotel worker was Paul’s right hand man, assisting him when needed to uphold the standards of the hotel and help the Tutsi guest. American Photographer, Jack Daglish was determined to show the world what was really happing in Rwanda; he revealed many gruesome images, his role was very small but an enormous impact on Paul’s mindset. George Rutugunda, the supplier for many businesses in Rwanda, including Paul’s hotel; he is Hutu and a big supporter of the war, as the broadcaster of Hutu Power radio, his character embodies the hatred that many Hutus felt toward Tutsis. There was also the Hutu militia leader, General Bizimungu, the man in charge of the army sent to kill all of the Tutsi in Rwanda. Paul established a business relationship with him before the war and was able to manipulate the General into sending some of these soldiers to the Mille Collines to protect the Tutsi refugees they wanted to slaughter.
I would first like to give a little back story on the history of division between the Tutsis and Hutus, in order to give a better understanding of what may have led up to this event. There were some strategic activities by outside forces that caused most of the division and led up to this massacre. Rwanda is made up of three ethnic groups, the Twa, the original inhabitants of the land, the Hutu were the first settlers there, and the Tutsi migrated there many years later. All ethnic groups lived peacefully before colonization by European forces. Although there was division between the Hutu and Tutsi based on class; the Hutu were farmers/working class, while the Tutsi were of the ruling class/wealth and power but with hard work and monetary gain Hutus could...
References: Intercultural Communication Law and Legal Definitions. Retrieved from http://ww.definitions.uslegal.com/i/intercultural-communication
Genocide in Rwanda. Retrieved from http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide_in_rwanda.htm
Rwanda 1994. Retrieved from http://www.combatgenocide.org/?page_id=34
Gallagher, E.J. Reel American History, Film-Hotel Rwanda (2004). Retrieved from http://www.digital.lib.lehigh.edu/trail/reels/films/list/1_53_3
Hotel Rwanda: Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0395169/
Pre-Colonial and Colonial. Retrieved from http://www.minaffet.gov.rw/index.php?id=935
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