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Films >> Hotel Rwanda (2004) >>

The Killing Fields (1984)
The Killing Fields, directed by Roland Joffe in 1984, illustrates a story both of strong friendship and desperation of war in Cambodia in 1973. Sydney Schanberg, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is the film's leading protagonist. The film traces his friendship with Dith Pran, his Cambodian assistant, during his assignment to cover the war in Cambodia. The two become best friends as they travel, document history, and escape death together in the midst of the war. The Killing Fields is similar to Hotel Rwanda in its focus on an individual story to illuminate the war-torn historic events of a nation. However, it provides a great contrast by focusing much more on the violence, desperation, and torture in Cambodia -- parallel to the story of Sydney and Pran -- to portray the history of Cambodia. Joffe uses a frequent motif of a single naked Cambodian child crying after scenes of explicit violence to suggest the helplessness and desperation of the violence. Also, The Killing Fields exposes the audience to a wider perspective of Cambodia by more fully developing the plot outside of the friendship between Sydney and Pran as opposed to Hotel Rwanda's virtually restricted boundaries to Paul Rusesabagina and the Hotel Milles de Collines. Finally, Joffe dedicates almost a quarter of the film to telling Pran's story of torture, disparity, and dullness in the concentration camps of the Khmer Rouge, the communist party in Cambodia. Pran's narrative brings life to the harsh reality in Cambodia during the early 1970's that was experienced only by Cambodians and not the Westerners that would have been untold if Joffe had focused just on Sydney's story. The Killing Fields thus presents a more historically accurate story of violence, desperation, and friendship as opposed to the brief introduction to the Rwandan genocide that Hotel Rwanda provides through the romanticized story of Paul Rusesabagina.
Schindler's List (1993)
Schindler's List, in comparison to Hotel Rwanda, provides not only a much more historically accurate depiction of genocide but also has an artistic quality that Hotel Rwanda lacks. Schindler's List, directed by Steven Spielberg in 1993, has been recognized for its brilliant depiction of the genocide of the Jews with seven Oscars in 1994. This film follows Oskar Schindler's creation of an industrial factory to provide refuge to Jews during the holocaust. However, the film also includes an ensemble of peripheral characters ranging from Amon Goeth, the German Nazi soldier, to a group of Jewish mothers surviving in Auschwitz, to provide a more complete perspective of Germany in the 1940's. The film captures all of these stories skillfully by involving characters in intertwining plots. By providing different realities from many perspectives, the film creates a rich context to the holocaust. Also, like The Killing Fields, Schindler's List frequently exposes the audience to inhumane violence, commonly illustrated through gunshots to the head, with the victims on their knees in front of Nazi soldiers, that brings a detail and accuracy to history that Hotel Rwanda lacks. Schindler's List brings an almost unwatchable accuracy to the methods of extermination of the Jews, illustrating the dehumanizing effects of the Nazi soldiers and calculated torture of the Jews. Also, as seen through its international popularity, Schindler's List did not deter but rather attracted audiences through this violence depiction of the holocaust--something Hotel Rwanda director and writer avoided and were afraid would scare off audiences.

In addition to Schindler's List's accurate representation of history, its use of black and white cinematography brings an artistic value to the film that creates a chilling effect. This absence of color, with the exception of two brief shots of a girl in a red dress, creates an effect that echoes the eerie reality of the genocide. Unlike Hotel Rwanda that was criticized for its lack of artistic representation in Paul Rusesabagina's story, Schindler's List received recognition for its attention to an artistic detail that helped communicate the tone of the holocaust to its audience. Overall, when judged on its ability to accurately portray history with dignity to genocide victims and survivors, Schindler's List is the outstanding achiever.
Sometimes in April (2005)
Another film about the Rwandan genocide. Main characters are two brothers. Honore Butera works for Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), and Augustine Muganza is a captain in the Rwandan army. They are both victims and perpetrators. Through their eyes, the director thoroughly depicts what has led up to the atrocity, the people's struggle, and aftermath reconciliation. Unlike Hotel Rwanda, violence is explicitly shown. Despite being graphically violent, the film is praised for more general and accurate depiction of the general genocide while Hotel Rwanda centers on only Paul Rusesabagina's journey during the genocide.

See Also

100 Days (2001)

Ali (2001)

Amistad (1998)

Beyond the Gates [aka Shooting Dogs] (2007)

Birth of a Nation (1915)

Cry Freedom (1987)

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

Glory (1989)

The Last Supper (1976)

Malcolm X (1992)

Rosewood (1997)

Shake Hands with the Devil (2007)

Shooting Dogs (2005) [aka Beyond the Gates]