Genocide, from the point of view of a man who couldn’t stop it
Welcome back to “Movies are Boring,” wherein War is Boring’s Kevin Knodell and Matthew Gault discuss war movies.
Today, we’re talking about director Roger Spottiswoode’s 2007 Shake Hands With the Devil, an unflinching depiction of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 from the perspective of the U.N. forces tasked with keeping the peace.
Based on Canadian general Roméo Dallaire’s memoir, Shake Hands with the Devil honestly portrays the U.N.’s failure to prevent the mass killing. Spottiswoode’s dedication to historical accuracy extends to the locations. Dallaire’s actual bungalow and the real-life hotel and stadium where civilians sought refuge all appear in the film.
The violence is matter-of-fact—gory but not exploitative. The sound work is incredible. Flies buzz. Screams and gunfire echo. The tension mounts as the horrors accumulate.
This is Dallaire’s story. It’s about the psychological price he and his men paid trying, and failing, to protect innocents amid the international community’s ambivalence.
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