Hotel Rwanda (2004)

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Released 8-Aug-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Terry George (Director), Paul Rusesabagina, Wyclef Jean
Featurette-Making Of-A Message For Peace: Making Hotel Rwanda
Audio Commentary-Don Cheadle (Actor) - Selected Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 116:46
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:07) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terry George
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Xolani Mali
Don Cheadle
Desmond Dube
Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Tony Kgoroge
Rosie Motene
Neil McCarthy
Mabutho 'Kid' Sithole
Nick Nolte
Fana Mokoena
Jeremiah Ndlovu
Sophie Okonedo
Lebo Mashile
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis
Rupert Gregson-Williams
Andrea Guerra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke

    Hotel Rwanda is a wrenching political thriller that tells the inspirational true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a mild mannered but stubbornly decent man who risks everything and goes to extraordinary lengths to save as many people as possible during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

    Belgium left Rwanda, its former colony, ethnically divided between the ruling Hutu and the minority Tutsis people. The resulting hatred and distrust ran deep among some. In 1994, a Hutu radio station, spewing out propaganda that blamed the Tutsis for everything that was wrong with their country, helped ancient feuds erupt into a 100-day bloodbath that saw the slaughter of almost a million Tutsis. Thousands of others were tortured, raped, or brutalised.

    During this vile and blood-soaked orgy of madness, military trucks packed with cheering, machete-waving soldiers of the Interahamwe, the Hutu militia, swarmed the streets of Rwanda's capital, Kigali, searching out Tutsis men, women, and children. Indeed, toward the end of the genocide, the Tutsis children were specifically targeted, in a gross and deliberate move of ethnic cleansing, in an attempt to wipe out the next generation of Tutsis people.

    However, Writer/Director Terry George manages to capture, or perhaps more suggest, the horror without making the film gory or gratuitous. Even when the streets are carpeted with bodies, we are spared the scenes of splattering blood, decapitations, or mutilations.

    So how can this mass chaos and insanity be dramatised? Through the eyes of one man.

    Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) is the softly spoken, gentle, and thoroughly charming wheeler-dealer manager of the Hotel Des Mille Collines, a Belgian-owned luxury hotel in Kigali. Paul is a Hutu with a Tutsis wife, Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo), and thus his children are half-Hutu/half-Tutsis. Paul and his family, like most, do not see Hutu or Tutsis - they only see people - friends, neighbours, and co-workers.

    Cheadle's riveting and understated performance allows us to experience the unbelievable horror, largely through his large, sensitive and intelligent eyes. As an audience, we don't watch him, we watch through him.

    With a sense of disbelief, Paul quickly realises the gravity of the chaotic situation. He uses his notable negotiating skills to keep the Hutu hoards from killing his family and close friends. But, this is only the beginning.

    When the Western media arrive and start to film the carnage - videos of dismembered bodies strewn through the streets - Paul is relieved, as surely now the world will do something to stop the tide of evil that has swept over his country.

    However, a cynical reporter (Joaquin Phoenix) bluntly explains to Paul "If people see this footage they'll say, 'Oh my God, that's terrible,' and they'll go on eating their dinners." Of course he was right.

    Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte), the tough-as-nails United Nations commander is on site, but he is completely helpless, as his orders are for his lightly armed UN troops to be "peacekeepers, not peacemakers". Frustrated by the orders which prevent his small peacekeeping force from intervening, Oliver blurts out that if it were white people being massacred, the Western World's response would be very different.

    Thus, a horrible realisation dawns on Paul - no one is coming to help them. No one. As Rwanda has no oil, nor anything else of interest to the Western World, its people have been abandoned to their bloody slaughter.

    Paul acts quickly, and he turns the hotel into a makeshift refugee camp. He fills the rooms with as many people as he can, and barters for their food and safety daily.

    Indeed, Paul risks his life every day, and he and his family narrowly escape death several times. But through a combination of flattery, bribes, threats, and lies, Paul manages to maintain the sanctity of the hotel as an oasis of decency.

    Against all odds, Paul Rusesabagina is directly responsible for saving the lives of more than 1,200 refugees, both Tutsis and Hutu, by feeding and sheltering them in his hotel, and somehow managing to protect them from harm in a vortex of violence and death.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall the transfer is excellent.

    The widescreen transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness is very good, as can be seen in the detail of the patterned shirts at 83:20. The black level and shadow detail are also very good. For example, consider the detail in the dark exterior night shot at 15:09.

    The colour is excellent throughout, with a well-saturated colour palette. The skin tones are accurate.

    There are no problems with MPEG or film artefacts. Film-to-video appear in the form of some mild aliasing, such as the slight shimmer occasionally appearing on car grilles or striped shirts.

   English for the Hearing Impaired are provided, and they are accurate to the spoken word.

    The film is divided into 30 chapters on this single-sided dual-layered disc. The layer change occurs between scenes at 75:07.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Despite the DVD's cover promising the option of dts 5.1 audio, the only audio options available on the DVD are English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s), English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s), and English Dolby Digital Audio Commentary 2 2.0 (320Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis, Rupert Gregson-Williams and Andrea Guerra, and there is a good blend of a traditional, orchestral score, which beautifully underlines the film's emotion, with local African music, which effectively helps set the scene.

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the film's surround presence and activity. The film's sound design is excellent, and the resulting surround sound mix is both impressive and immersive. While there are not a great deal of directional effects, or panning between speakers, the rear speakers are used effectively throughout to provide ambience. This  maintains a nice soundfield while keeping the viewer firmly focussed on the screen. For example, the traffic at 33:44, the distant gun fire at 69:30, and the rain at 50:42.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively throughout, such as the ominous rumble at 25:09, and the drums and explosions at 99:07.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are more about quality than quantity. The inclusion of the real Paul Rusesabagina assisting with the audio commentary is a real coup.

Menu

    An animated menu, with audio.

Audio Commentary 1 (Full Length)

    Presented in stereo audio, this is a screen-specific Audio Commentary with Director Terry George, Paul Rusesabagina, and songwriter Wyclef Jean. The commentary focuses more on the story than the technical aspects of the film, and a lot of additional information and some historical background is provided. Rusesabagina also provides a horrifying first-hand-account of the atrocities and terror which he and his family endured.

Featurette-Making Of-A Message For Peace: Making Hotel Rwanda (27:55)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this featurette includes some behind-the-scenes footage, some scenes from the film and some interview snippets with the filmmakers and Paul Rusesabagina. There is also some archival news footage.

Audio Commentary 2 (21:47)

    Presented in stereo audio, this is a screen-specific Audio Commentary by Actor Don Cheadle for selected scenes from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:07)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Hotel Rwanda was released on DVD in Region 1 in April 2005.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    When you consider that we get a PAL transfer, I would call it pretty even, but I'd favour the R1 for the extra featurette.

Summary

    A gripping and terrifying film, Hotel Rwanda is a powerful statement about the greatness of one man who risked everything to help strangers. While one can't help drawing parallels with Schindler's List, Hotel Rwanda is a suspenseful and moving film that stands on its own merits.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are genuine, and enhance the DVD's content.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
UGH! - Anonymous
Re: UGH (New classification stickers) - Tom (read my bio)
Re: UGH + more! - Nick (let's get bio!)
I second the "UGH!" and raise it to a "YEESH!!" - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
The ethnic divisions in Rwanda were invented - Anonymous
NZ Classification stickers - Ron Stevens
Re: NZ Classification stickers - Anonymous
Re: NZ Classification stickers - reply - Ron Stevens
Re Stickers - Neil
re Stickers - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)