Monday, October 1, 2007


True war drama
Some dialogue in French with English subtitles

On July 1, 1962, Belgium granted full independence to Rwanda as a republic governed by the Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement. Rwanda thus became a Hutu-dominated one-party state. Following a coup in 1973, Juvénal Habyariman was inaugurated as president. For 20 years his Hutu military government ruled with an iron-fist policy against both Tutsis and any Hutus who opposed him. Habyariman resisted calls for free elections and was opposed to long-running demands by Rwandan Tutsi refugees for their right to return.

On April 6, 1994 his plane was shot down above Kigali airport. Within hours, a campaign of violence spread from the capital throughout the country and did not subside until three months later. Between April and June 1994 in the space of 100 days an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed . Most of the dead were Tutsis.

Roy Dupuis: Canadian Armed Forces General Roméo Dallaire
James Gallanders: his aide-de-camp Major Brent Beardsley
Owen Sejake: Major-General Anyidoho, United Nations Chief of Staff
Odile Katesi Gakire: Prime Minister of Rwanda
Deborah Kara Unger: American Reporter Emma

Told from the perspective of the man in charge of protecting the lives of innocent people, this is not simply a retelling of the horrors of the Rwanda genocide. Shot on location and with acting that is first rate (especially by Dupuis) the Rwanda part of it looks and feels authentic. The flashbacks less so.

Perhaps a little long, it is never boring. Some of the scenes are unsettling but manageable by all but the more squeamish.

for disturbing images, violence.

Not to be confused with the Emmy-winning 2004 documentary film based on the book entitled Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire.

No comments: