Cautions: strong violence and intensity, brief strong language, some sensuality, brief immodesty and obscured nudity, and potential ethical confusion
Hotel Rwanda. Tension—the president’s death—genocide. Paul Rusesabagina was manager of a four-star hotel, hobnobbing with the elite, meeting the demands of style. Then radicals came after his family with machine guns and machetes, and the Hôtel des Milles Collines suddenly became the capital’s only hiding place in the middle of a bloody massacre. One hundred days—almost a million deaths… both in the movie and in real life. It was because of Paul Rusesabagina that there weren’t one thousand more.
2004 | Terry George | 121 min Watch Trailer
Strong Violence and Intensity
Hotel Rwanda shows remarkable discretion in choice of imagery. Gore is minimal. Dead bodies are seen, but these scenes are more emotionally intense than visually graphic. Machete blows are distant, brief, or off screen. The main question for viewers considering Hotel Rwanda is whether they can handle the emotional reaction these intense scenes are designed to set them up for.
Main characters, including women and children, are ambushed and threatened with blades and machine guns while people around them are chopped or shot to death.
Paul unexpectedly encounters a field of genocide victims. The bodies are mostly obscured in the fog, and the scene is emotionally rather than visually disturbing.
A little boy is found covered in someone else’s blood, but since this scene takes place in almost complete darkness, the gore factor is minimal.
Paul and others, including young children, are severely traumatized at different points throughout the movie. A little boy experiences extreme physical and mental shock and stops speaking for the remainder of the movie. Paul suffers a panic attack and can’t even dress himself without breaking down.
A woman with tears in her eyes describes witnessing the murder of Tutsi children.
Men and women are beaten.
Brief Strong Language
The word “n-gger” is mentioned.
Paul and his wife are seen in bed together, fully clothed, a few times—once embracing, but in a comforting rather than sensual way. There are occasional, usually light, kisses between the unmarried actor and actress. Paul is seen shirtless in a short, non-sensual segment.
A side character, who has both positive and negative moments in the movie, tells a woman he just met, “I’d like to finish this conversation,” and gives her his hotel room number. Nothing else is seen or implied.
A negatively-portrayed side character is seen at the door of a hotel room with a woman (not his wife) in the background, both of them in robes.
Brief Immodesty and Obscured Nudity
In a nighttime scene, captured Tutsi prostitutes stand behind a wire fence in the shadows, some in scanty undergarments, some nude. This scene is not played in a sensual way at all, and actual nudity is almost entirely obscured in the shadows.
A couple of scenes briefly show women in revealing swimsuits.
Potential Ethical Confusion
A man tells his family to commit suicide rather than fall under the machete. The rashness of this is revealed later on.
In a moment of emotional breakdown after Paul voluntarily separates himself from her to help others, Paul’s wife tries to give him back her wedding ring. She later, in a calmer frame of mind, tells him that leaving her “was not your decision to make. We make our decisions together.”
Paul’s bold but desperate statement to a threatening Hutu, “I would pay you to shoot my family,” and his request for that man to shoot him as well, are not necessarily meant to be taken seriously. These are probably intended as references to the choice of some of the actual genocide victims to pay their murderers to kill them quickly rather than torture them to death, but this is not made clear in the movie.
Paul initially believes that “family is all that matters,” and hesitates or refuses to take risks for people outside his family. His conviction changes during the course of the movie.
Paul’s implicit trust in the U.N.’s ability to maintain national peace and international harmony is shattered by the U.N.’s faithlessness.
Alcoholic beverages are mentioned and shown. One side character is seen drunk after the killing starts, and is negatively portrayed for this.
Characters are seen smoking cigars.
Paul lies to save human lives.
Someone wishes Paul good luck.