September 30, 2007

The drama of "Shake Hands with the Devil" brings Rwandan tragedy into focus, again.

Roy Dupuis, as Gen. Romeo Dallaire in 'Shake Hand with the Devil'It's not sensationalized, and there are no real heroes in the "rah-rah" Hollywood sense. It's an international co-production starring a Canadian actor. I doubt that "Shake Hands With the Devil" will be widely exhibited or receive much media attention in the United States, although I sincerely hope that I'm proven wrong about that.

This movie can only remind the viewer of the devastation of armed conflict and how the innocent invariably get caught in the middle and suffer for the sake of other people's agendas.

In the movie "Shake Hands With the Devil", actor Roy Dupuis portrays General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian leader of UNAMIR, the United Nations peace-keeping mission in Rwanda, with incredible sensitivity, humanity and smouldering frustration.

The movie takes a natural, straight-forward and inglorious approach to telling the story of the horrific Rwandan genocide. This is just like the tone and style in which Romeo Dallaire himself described it in the book on which the movie is based. As in the book, you feel as if, in some small way, you have witnessed the suffering and death of the innocent, have seen the ineffectiveness and lack of commitment of the United Nations (and many major world governments including the U.S.), and have felt Dallaire's frustration and helpless torment at not being given the mandate, people or equipment with which to prevent the deaths of almost a million people.

You truly feel as if you are walking with Dallaire through his experiences, and to some small degree are bearing witness yourself to a horrible series of human tragedies. I think it is a credit to the movie and to the measured and restrained portrayal of Roy Dupuis. The movie is as inglorious as it is beautiful and hauntingly realistic. There is such a prevailing mood of cold, depressing bleakness, that when there are moments of heroism, like when Dallaire and his second-in-command get out of their vehicle and walk the gauntlet, or when Dallaire saves a few goats from being slaughtered because "something has to survive", you feel a mix of relief and emotional exhaustion, as if the respite is too little too late.

That is, I think, the point that Dallaire made about the response of the world to the Rwandan tragedy as well - it was too little, too late.

Shake Hand with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
After watching the movie, I highly recommend reading Dallaire's excellent book, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. This is his tragic and awe-inspiring first-hand account of his experiences inside the Rwandan genocide.

My original review of Dallaire's moving book is located here:
Book Review: "Shaking Hands with the Devil"

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1 comment:

p-d said...

Thank you for the recommendation, you are right it didn't get much US circulation! paddy's web transmitter