In the film Hotel Rwanda and 1947 Earth you see many similar features such as tensions between 2 or more parties, friends betraying one another, rioting and military coups. Though rooted in different times and nations the two share very common attributes. And with respect to the viewer each story is told through the eyes of neutral parties such as Paul and his Hutu heritage and his wife’s Tutsi heritage, and Lenny-baby and her neutral Parsi family.
Lenny-Baby is raised in a well off Parsi family in India. She lays perfect groundwork to be the eyes and ears of this film. Her family’s neutral stand point keeps her safe from any direct aggression, being a young child leaves us with a sense of innocence which unfortunately does become corrupted by her soon to come experiences, and lastly her ignorance and ability to comprehend what is going on around her and why. Lenny-Baby is a great view point for this film to be given by due to her innocence, she does not hate one more than another, she does not understand why everyone is turning on one another, but she is smart and wants to understand.
Paul Rusesabagina, the main character in Hotel Rwanda was a manager of a high class resort whom lives rather comfortably is thrown from his home with his Tutsi wife and children to save their lives. Paul is Hutu, the main aggressor in Rwanda trying to wipe out the Tutsi population. Paul was a real man in history, he actions actually saved thousands of refugees lives by taking them in a harboring them in his hotel. Though he obviously could have just let these people die he chose to be their savior. While he is Hutu that obviously did not impact his generosity and pure greatness.
From the beginning you see tensions rise between groups. Hutu vs Tutsi, Muslim vs Hindu vs Sikh. Friends become enemies, they betray someone who they previously called friend, may be even family. From the beginning all are one for the eyes of our portrayal. Shanta’s friend group are made up of all conflicting faiths including her own, Hindu, they all were very close in the beginning, merely joking with one another. Their jokes soon turn sour and become filled with hate. The first sign that things were going to get bad is when the train arrives filled with dead Muslims and Dil’s family dead on board. More points were among the instance where the Sikhs rioted in the streets, burning homes and even tearing a man apart between two jeeps. The two jeeps pulling the Muslim man apart was where clear evidence that Lenny-Baby had lost her childhood innocence, she witnessed a man be ripped apart for in her mind, no reason.
One contrast to bring up, in India one could convert to save their life. Exactly like how Hari became Himmat Ali by converting to Muslim. Though this was an option it was not as simple as it may seem. Conflict of Shanta’s friends shine light on more than just the conflict in India but also jealousy over Shanta’s hand in marriage when Hassan is murdered, most likely by Dil. Also when Dil shows up to the Sethna’s home looking for Shanta and manipulates Lenny-Baby into giving up where Shanta is hiding. Lenny-Baby will forever hold this as her fault as she never sees Shanta again. In Rwanda you could lose your life by the type of Rwandan you were classified as. We see thousands flock to the Milles Collines Hotel in Kigali to meet their savior Paul Rusesabagina. He put his life and his family’s on the line for refugees he barely knew because he knew there was no chance of survival had he turned them away. In 1947 Earth the men and woman are burdened with these 3 options: convert, leave, or ultimately die. At least the were given the opportunity to live as messed up as that seems its better than dying at the hands of your aggressor for something you cannot change. After all Rwanda was a genocide on the Tutsi heritage and its people.
The Belgium like the English left their colonies in haste. Essentially, each nation was left to their devices. A difference though was how, the Belgium left the power in the hands of the Tutsi. The Tutsi were the smaller of ethnic groups in Rwanda, the Hutu’s were not fond of being controlled by the smaller population because the Belgium’s favored the Tutsi’s physical features over the Hutu’s. The British left India in such a hurry they had left everything to be settled by their own people from independence down to whether there will be a Pakistan (land of the pure). In the very beginning of 1947 Earth the movie opens up to a dinner at a dinner at the Sethnas whom were Parsi, at this dinner there were two other couples, the Roger’s whom were British and the Singh’s whom were Sikh. At this dinner tension is very apparent between the two guests, the saying “you could cut the tension with a knife” was an understatement with the under the breath comments and hidden insults shared between the two. The men were in a disagreement whether the British could even survive without the British, let alone settle differences. Mr. Rogers was clearly doubtful that this independence could be handled by the people of India with out the the consultation and assistance of the British. Mr. Singh was claiming that the people of India had lived in peace and harmony for hundreds of years before the British had arrived.
One must ask themselves, can we attribute Rwanda’s horrible genocide and India gruesome independence to their colonizers? Were these horrible acts of violence, riots and outcomes the responsibility of the Belgium and British? And lastly, had the colonizers never colonized Rwanda or India could the Tutsis lives and the death toll of India’s independence been spared? The sad part is we will never know. While most responsibility could be pinned on the colonizers there is no doubt that the Hutus and Tutsis and India’s Trifecta were at fault. After all the genocide was ignited by the death of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down the Hutu extremist politicians blamed Tutsi rebels for shooting down the plane. The catalyst in 1947 Earth was the train full of dead Muslims fleeing to Future Pakistan from India.
1947 Earth and Hotel Rwanda were the two films used to show a primary account of a conflict between faiths in India and a genocide in Rwanda. Comparing and contrasting the two is quite a revelation. The two nations independence from their colonizers show very similar contributions even with very differing circumstances such as location, faiths vs ethnicities, and even time period. In the end there are no excuses for the unnecessary deaths in exchange for their independence, they all had the same goal of freedom from their colonizer it is just unfortunate the route of violence was taken.
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