Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hotel Rwanda

I recently watched this movie which had won much critical acclaim last year. It is the first movie that I have watched in 2007, and I can say that the year has begun well at least on the count of watching good movies.

'Hotel Rwanda' is not a movie that you can watch for entertainment or for whiling away time. In stead, its a movie that inspires a terrible fear and loathing of man's capability for beastliness. The fact that it is based on a real incident which did happen, and not a mere figment of imagination, makes it even more revolting and heart wrenching.

The movie is based on the mass genocide in Rwanda as a result of a conflict between its two ethnic sects - Hutu and Tutsi. The protagonist is a hotel manager, Paul, who living amongst his hotel's clients from the west, has begun to believe himself to be a part of them. When the war breaks out between the two sects, most westerners are called back by their countries, while the war-ridden Rwanda is left to its own misery. Most nations decline to send a UN army to handle the situation. This is when Paul realizes the fallacy of his make-belive and sets out to help his people. He opens the hotel to both Hutu and Tutsi refugees, fights the many raids and attacks on the hotel by the Hutu army and uses bribes and his diplomatic relations to tide over many difficult situations. Finally, with repeated appeals, his family and all other refugees are able to cross the border and reach safer territory .

The movie is weaved around disparate themes, which have been sewn together with excellent direction. Its a story of a man growing out of a comfortable zone and facing reality.
Its also a story of an average person concerned for his own safety reaching out to a group of over 1200 people and assume responsibility for their security.
Its a saga of international neglect, highlighting UN and US apathy to events that do not concern the latter directly. While US quickly moved to cave in on Saddam Hussein, crying foul for his atrocities in Iraq on a few hundred people, it shut itself from the pleas of more than a million Rwandans who were slain in less than three months.
Above all, its a sordid tale of cruelty, atrocity, beastliness, which one section of man carried out on another. It shows how power can inflitrate the virtue we call 'humanity' and drive men to conduct holocausts. It outlines the repulsive idea that a person can imagine eradicating a race of humans, line the roads with human corpses and still conduct 'business-as-usual'.

It is a very sensitive and journalistic narration of all these sensitive themes. An eye-opening, serious and briliant work.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Top 5 literary picks of 2006!

The Double, Jose Saramago
A brilliant book on the confusion of identities - on how the appearance of a double muddles up one's sense of self and poses a threat of being replaced.

Snow, Orhan Pamuk
One of my first introductions to Istanbul. It was interesting to read of a revolt against liberalism. Well written

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
Good storytelling. A dose of mystery, and a confusion throughout. I liked the different ways in which the story was narrated - through a novel, news clippings, random incidents...

The Pickup, Nadine Gordimer
Very creative. An interesting cross-cultural swap - a dejection of values on either side. A passionate story written in a slumberous, dispassionate fashion

Possession, A.S.Byatt
I always enjoy a parallel between the past and present, and in this book, the alternating has been done beautifully. It is made even more interesting with the additions of fairy tales and poetry.