Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

I saw Hotel Rwanda several years ago. This film was extremely powerful, but it was so disturbing that I had trouble watching the whole thing and doubt I could ever sit through it a second time. The film tells the true story of a Hutu man married to a Tutsi woman in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, in which almost a million men, women and children were killed in about 90 days. The film garnered a lot of positive critical attention, and was nominated for several Oscars.

Much of the power of the film is the personalization of the human tragedy that took place in 1994. We have all read news accounts of a generalized nature, and have some generalized understanding of what took place. Such generalized accounts are disturbing enough. My understanding is that no other genocide in history has been as efficient—killing so many in so little time. The statistics are absolutely staggering. But the power of Hotel Rwanda is that it tells the real life plight of one man, his family and co-workers during those terrifying days. We are shown at least briefly and to some degree what he went through, what he witnessed and how he survived. What he witnessed was absolutely astonishing and horrific.

Some modern Christ followers—perhaps especially those of us in relatively peaceful and prosperous Western nations—sometimes tend to doubt the existence of the devil. Indeed, in my observation, some who are well-educated particularly tend to scoff at the concept as being simplistic and out-dated. Indeed, I have witnessed that such Christians sometimes look down upon their brothers and sisters who fervently believe in a literal personified concept of Satan, who is actively interfering in the affairs of man and fighting the will of God. Such well-educated Christians seem to sometimes view such beliefs as provincial and unsophisticated.

Such skepticism may be understandable when one has been raised and has always lived in a relatively comfortable and benign world, and one has never been exposed to people that are all that corrupt. But I think that when one learns in more detail about the horrific evil of which humans are capable, such skepticism does tend to dissipate.

I am decidedly not a theologian. I have spoken to my pastor about the topic, but it is just not clear to me if the biblical representation of the devil is intended to be a literal personification or if it is intended to be a figurative representation of evil. Personally, I’m not sure it really matters. I do believe in evil. I do believe it can and does consume human beings. I remember watching Hotel Rwanda and reflecting on that point. I got chills at the superfluous references to Tutsis as “cockroaches,” the brutality of the agonizing machete killings, the mercilessness of massacring young orphans in the care of nuns, and the overwhelming body count. In my opinion, that inhumanity and evil has a very real source.

Mark 4:15 (Today's New International Version)

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Luke 22:3 (Wycliffe New Testament)

And Satan entered into Judas, that was called Iscariot, one of the twelve.

1 comment:

  1. Hotel Rwanda is such a great movie. What those poor people had to deal with every second of their life is absolutely heart wrenching, not even knowing if they were even gonna make it through day because their situations were so tough. My heart goes out to all the victims in Hotel Rwanda. No one has the right to take another person’s life. And the violence proves nothing but the degradation of humanity.

    Recently I saw this movie, Attack on Darfur, at the NY film festival and realize that Darfur needs as much attention as it can possibly get. I myself had no idea how bad it was until I saw this movie which is a very real portrayal of the horror going on there. Even some of the actors are actual people from Darfur reenacting their actual raping and torturing. I cried so hard, but I'm glad I saw it cause it really opened my eyes to what's going there.