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In 1994, a genocide occurred in Rwanda. The majority ethnicity, Hutu, massacred over 800,000 minorities better known as the Tutsi. The withdrawal of the West acts as one major factor which allowed the continuation of the genocide. In the autobiography, An Ordinary Man, Paul, the protagonist, writes of his experiences while living during the genocide. The movie Hotel Rwanda also shows Paul’s life during the genocide, but only over one hundred days. Each media depicts the abandonment of the West, especially when the UN evacuates all the western’s from the Mille Collines. Although both narrate the Rwandan genocide, both medias differ in the treatment of the presentation of western abandonment.
Both show the west leaving, from the Mille Collines; however, the movie creates more pathos. The movie creates more pathos by using emotions. In the autobiography, Paul directly states, “Anyone with white skin or a foreign passport was given a free trip out,” in such a matter of-fact tone that the passage sucks out any emotional feelings (97).
During the scene in the movie, white westerners board the bus, abandoning all the Rwandans as if they were nothing, which in return creates pathos by showing the nonchalant and uncaring attitudes towards these innocent Rwandans, which invokes a pity and sadness ultimately. The emotional differences between the two works suggests that emotion invokes more pathos than written document, which then captures the image of West abandonment even more clearly. Also, the movie uses the scenery, bringing out even more pathos. Paul’s lack of mentioning detail regarding the scenery during the withdrawal allows for a boring description of the occurring events within the passage.
However, in the movie, the director enables the use of rain, which preys upon the emotional feelings of the viewers due to the fact that most mentally connect rain with sadness and depression, which describes the Rwandans feelings as the west leaves bringing even more pathos into the scene. Since the image in the movie predominantly suggests the idea of pathos opposing the lack of details in the book a clearer understanding of how the West abandonment affects the Rwandan people occurs from viewing the movie. Finally, using sounds enables the continual development of pathos in the movie during this scene. Paul mentions nothing of background noises or any noise occurring as the westerners leave the hotel for safety back in Europe or the USA, which inadvertently, allows once again the for the lacking of pathos in the autobiography.
For the movie, the singing of the Rwandan orphans creates immense pathos because the viewers watch as orphans run to the hotel in hope of safety and shelter from the UN, but rejection for such safety occurs, and combining with the orphan song just absolutely allows an explosion of pathos within the scene. The juxtaposition between these two works highly contrasts the differences in the image of western abandonment, and becomes extremely exaggerated by the pathos developing within the movie, which means the movie indeed creates more pathos than the autobiography. As all the evidence points, the movie dramatically creates more pathos than the book by using multiple techniques to show the true image of western abandonment.
Each form of media uses mood, but the movie conveys the dominant mood of hopelessness as the West abandons the Rwandans. The movie conveys hopelessness through facial expression. The autobiography uses the idea of dehumanization in the sentence, “Even their pet dogs were evacuated,” which creates hopelessness in the passage. The movie however, uses close-up shots to capture important character’s faces such as Paul and General Roméo Dallaire, showing the feelings of hopelessness through the eyes. Although both works represent the mood of hopelessness, the effect of being able to visualize the mood allows for a stronger grasp of what really occurred during the abandonment of the West. Also, the use of rain during the scene lets hopelessness grow in the movie. Paul’s lack of bothering regarding the weather or conditions of that day, so no hopelessness occurs due to the absence of it. Hotel Rwandaperfectly captures hopelessness as the director chooses who would become wet as a result of the rain, for representation of those knowledgeable people who understand what the evacuation of the West stands for and they too only understand of the true hopelessness of the situation.
Because the movie uses the rain as a prop in the setting, the movie conveys the message of hopelessness better than the book, which didn’t even state the weather. Finally, the movie use of orphans creates hopelessness. The passage states, “As the country slid further and further into mass murder, …,” which shows the audience that no one or anything offers help in the prevention of discontinuing the genocide (97). As the evacuation continues from the Mille Collines, helpless orphans come seeking refuge from the genocide only to be shot down from the UN, creating the ultimate mood of hopelessness as these orphans were at a loss with life already.
Even though the books attempt at the creation of hopelessness becomes a sorrowful mood, the movie crushes the book with the mood that the orphans create. All in all, evidence shows that the movie dominants the autobiography regarding how mood is used and created. After reading any book, reflection and thought is key to understanding what I learned.
From this book I realized how the ignorance and nonchalant attitude of the West has allowed not only the Rwandan genocide to occur, but many more to occur even up to present day. Also, that just because helping may not be the most popular option, it’s the only answer for future prevention of such atrocities to ever occur again.
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