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Shake Hands with the Devil (2007)

Cast: Roy Dupuis , Amanda Alden, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Justin Craig , Jacqueline Donovan , James Gallanders, Mark Antony Krupa , Owen Sejake, Deborah Kara Unger

Director(s): Roger Spottiswoode

Language: English & French

Genre: Historical Drama

Website: Click Here

Synopsis

Canadian Lt. General Romeo Dallaire was the military commander of the UN mission in Rwanda and this movie is personal and, all too true, story of his time there during the genocide of 1994. It is not quite as moving as the earlier Hotel Rwanda and is less geared to drama and emotional manipulation, but it is still grim and upsetting. The direction is slightly surreal and the acting is quite good, though I found Dupuis to be just a little too wooden (just a little over that line between stoic and... [Get complete synopsis]

 

Jefferygn wrote on October 2, 2007, 11:27 am
Rated
Please note that the poster image above corresponds to the book of the same name, not the movie... can't find a single image of the movie poster anywhere on the web!

***

I first heard of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire about six or seven years ago, when listening to the CBC one Sunday morning. Michael Enright was interviewing him about how he had been faring since coming home from Rwanda. As the head of the UN Mission in Rwanda during the genocide there, he had made strong, but ultimately failed, attempts to get the world to pay attention to what was happening in Rwanda at the time, and for something to be done about it. As we all know all too well, nothing was really done. The world simply didn't care enough. It is Dallaire's strong belief that if the victims of these atrocities had not been African, something would have happened. Instead with the ingrained racism of the western world, the most powerful nations on earth stood by and watched 800,000 people get slaughtered in a systematic killing spree.

Needless to say, Dallaire's own self-perceived failure to stop this madness left a profound effect on him - not to mention Rwanda itself. That hour-long interview on CBC that morning was perhaps the most moving and stirring piece of radio I have ever heard. I had only wished I had been a CBC listener back in 1993 to have heard Dallaire being interviewed back then, vainly trying to get the world to care.

Nonetheless, I realized while listening to that interview, the Romeo Dallaire is perhaps Canada's greatest living hero. He tried to stop such horror. And that he failed and has suffered tremendously for it (including suicide attempts) makes him all the more a hero, because unlike most people viewed as heroic, he is deeply flawed, and deeply human.

When Gen. Dallaire released his memoirs of his time in Rwanda, titled, Shake Hands with the Devil, I rushed out to buy it, and read it voraciously. It is a tremendous and harrowing book that perhaps every Canadian (and others) should read.

When Gen. Dallaire had a speaking engagement when the book came out, I made sure to have a ticket, and stood in a line for 90 mins to have him sign my copy of his book.

Listening to the man is to be awed and impressed. He has that natural presence that most of us could only dream of acquiring. This is a person who obviously commands the respect of everyone he meets, and is a natural leader. When I had him sign my book, I felt speechless to say anything. I truly felt I was in the shadow of sincere human greatness.

Needless to say, the subject matter of this movie is very close to my heart.

So, with that in mind, I went to see this film last night. As someone quite familiar with the events of the story, and with the main character himself, I enjoyed the film a lot. But realistically, the actual movie is rather flawed. It comes across as more of a made-for-TV film, and suffers for some rather clunky structure and that low-budget Canadian feel. Nonetheless, Dupuis gives a decently strong performance of Dallaire, and the film does not shy away from showing the blundering, bureaucratic self-centeredness of the UN and the international community it represents. The frustrated, hand-cuffed Dallaire, pressed down by impossible constraints, comes across quite clearly. Moreover, the film does not shy away from giving us a strong sense of the ugly effects of mass killing (although with very little explicitly graphic violence). One aspect of the film is distinctly appreciated: it was filmed in Rwanda with Rwandese playing themselves, in locations accurate to the events portrayed. This lends to the feeling of authenticity. Moreover, it demonstrates just how beautiful a country Rwanda is.

I would recommend the movie if the subject is of interest. I would recommend Romeo Dallaire?s book more.

motleymitch wrote on October 2, 2007, 2:53 pm
Comment
Way to brighten up my day Jeffy!
Although the subject matter does interest me, I usually shy away from these movies on account of the depression factor. Y'know, once in a while, sure, but given the option, I'd rather laugh than cry. Plus, all the frustration and helplessness that comes with the realization of these atrocities.....oy!
MasterWoodsman wrote on October 7, 2007, 9:33 am
Comment
Interesting stuff..... But my capacity for African Genocide Movies is 2 a year and I'm already full. Next year....

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