Hotel Rwanda and other movies
November 15, 2005 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I loved Hotel Rwanda. What particularly hooked me was the film's unflinching realism in showing civilization as it is slowly being encroached and oppressed by large-scale terrorism which casts a shadow of uncertainty and danger on even the most mundane routines of daily life -- a sort of real-life Night of the Living Dead. Other similar films are Salvador, Missing and The Killing Fields. I also enjoyed the recent The Constant Gardener. What else will I like?

Bonus question: A few years ago I saw a film, which could have been from the 70s or 80s (not earlier, but possibly 90s) about a French clerk who during the Reign of Terror managed to save thousands of people from the guillotine by falsifying court papers. IMDb's keyword search is not being helpful. Anyone?
posted by gentle to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps Time of the Wolf, but it's not necessarily about terrorists.
posted by dobbs at 11:56 AM on November 15, 2005

Under Fire, Romero and The Year of living dangerously.
posted by wannalol at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2005

The Year of Living Dangerously, both the movie and the book.
posted by Danf at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2005

You'd like many things from Witness or the Human Rights Watch Film Festivals (current or previous).
posted by jeanmari at 12:07 PM on November 15, 2005

A little movie called Osama will ruin your day. Also see Downfall, it's about the final happy-go-lucky days in Hitler's bunker. And, hey, if you're all about the collapse of society and order, there's a real rib-tickler about nuclear war called Threads waiting out there for you. Good times, good times.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 12:08 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: Interesting recommendation, thanks.

I've heard about both Osama and Threads. Incidentally, another film I loved is Winterbottom's In This World.

jeanmari, thanks, but it doesn't look the festival is showing anywhere near me (Oslo, Norway) anytime soon. I would prefer specific film recommendations so I could hunt them down myself.
posted by gentle at 12:17 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: fandago_matt, Bob Roberts is a great film, but in what way is it relevant to my question?
posted by gentle at 12:19 PM on November 15, 2005

I second Osama.
posted by invisible ink at 12:19 PM on November 15, 2005

second vote for Time of the Wolf.
posted by captainscared at 1:29 PM on November 15, 2005

The Terrorist, oh, chilling.
Land and Freedom, takes place during the Spanish Civil War.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:27 PM on November 15, 2005

Watch City of God.

It may not be as large scale as Hotel Rwanda, but the extremely low budget film was shot on the streets of brazil using some of the children living there as actors. It's an amazing film and by the same director as the Constant Gardner.
posted by skrike at 3:08 PM on November 15, 2005

I second the recommendation of City of God. It's amazing.
posted by bedhead at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: fandango_matt, Bob Roberts does portray a disturbing political tendency, but "large-scale terrorism" isn't in it. What I want would is a Bob Roberts 2 set 10 years on when Bob is president over a totalitarian America oppressed by secret government killing squads and country music. (Wasn't that old boiling-frog tale debunked as an urban myth recently, though?)

strangelefty, The Terrorist looks very interesting, though it's not really what I'm after. "Lone terrorist against civilized society" is approximately the opposite of a "civilization ... oppressed by large-scale terrorism". By large-scale terrorism I am referring to the type of state terrorism seen in Rwanda, where the population is at the mercy of a violent government, or indeed any of the very numerous genocidal revolutions (Cuba, Russia, South America, most of Africa) throughout history, committed in the name of the people, against the people.
posted by gentle at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2005

Sorry, gentle, there are so many that I love from those two organizations! They are short films. Here are a few of the ones that I found fascinating and poignient:

JUNG (War): In the Land of the Mujaheddin
Nazareth 2000
An Ordinary President

I've heard good things about Private, though I have not seen it yet.
posted by jeanmari at 3:18 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: City of God is a good film, but miles away from what I intended with this question. I don't quite see what the Rwanda genocide and a bunch of street kids doing the Goodfellas thing have in common.

While I hate to answer my own question, other films I decided not to mention in the original posting include Welcome to Sarajevo, Before the Rain and Savior. (The Balkan wars seem to be a popular topic.) Anyone got more?
posted by gentle at 3:26 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: jeanmari, while I appreciate the pointers, I'm not in London, either, and I can't do much with recommendations that aren't available on DVD from my usual sources (Amazon, Play), other than noting the titles and checking the local art-house cinema now and then.

Private played here recently, didn't get a chance to see it, but I hear it's a decent film.
posted by gentle at 3:30 PM on November 15, 2005

Gentle, I think some of the answers you're getting are the result of an unclear question. You only asked "What else will I like?", not what other movies are there that have these same themes.

That being said, Ive worked in the Movie Industry for over 10 years now, and it doesnt seem that there are many films of this genre based on real events. Genocidal or large scale terrorist films would usually be limited to Science Fiction or War Films telling quite a different story from what you seem to be looking for. Not too mention the fact that its an upopular topic in general and most likely a story unknown outside the country of origin. I would guess large scale movies like Hotel Rwanda and The Constant Gardner are a fairly new theme in film making. And you may see more like these in the coming years.

The only ones I can think of off hand but still arent exactly right on, would be:

The Battle of Algiers


Empire of the Sun

And although probably not applicable the question reminded me of the Bhopal / Union Carbide gas incident in India, video and more info found here.
posted by skrike at 4:06 PM on November 15, 2005

as far as mainstream hollywood war movies go....

I never saw it but, Tears of the Sun sounds similar to the Constant Gardner or Savior. Although the reviews on IMDB dont sound too promising.

I did see Behind Enemy Lines and thought it was decent, for an action flick. It deals with the Bosnian conflict. But its definitely an american point of view. (Lets get our boy out and let these people kill each other!)

Three Kings dove into the Saudi Conflict enough that it went beyond a war movie, and Black Hawk Down did somewhat the same thing in Somalia, but mostly its just senseless shooting.
posted by skrike at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2005

I second 'The Battle of Algiers' (1966). You might be interested in the Academy Award-winning Vietnam doc. 'Hearts and Minds' (1974). 'Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary' served as the factual inspiration for the film 'Downfall.'
posted by vkxmai at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2005

Costa-Gavras films, including Z and State of Siege. Also, Schindler's List (Spielberg),Night and Fog( Alain Resnais).
posted by madstop1 at 4:37 PM on November 15, 2005

Movies that concentrate on individuals more than groups of people, but may appeal to you: Bent and The Pianist. And moving away from Nazi-occupied Europe, The Agronomist.

And, of course, 1984.
posted by desuetude at 4:46 PM on November 15, 2005

Sorry, gentle. I can only recommend titles that I thought you might like. But, being unfamiliar with Oslo, I can't tell you what is available there. Only you can decide what you have access to and what you can't.

I don't go to the film festivals...I'm in Chicago. I get some of my videos from less mainstream sources (universities, small fine arts video shops, etc.) I purchase videos online. You wouldn't find the small fine arts video stores I hunt down on the Internet, and I don't want to make the assumption that Oslo has nothing to recommend along these lines. There is no way I would know what you have access to and what you don't.

Pardon my misunderstanding of your situation, but if you only want titles available through Amazon or Play, you should have stated that in your original question.

btw? Kandahar is available through Amazon.
posted by jeanmari at 5:15 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: skrike: Gentle, I think some of the answers you're getting are the result of an unclear question. You only asked "What else will I like?", not what other movies are there that have these same themes.

I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that this was obvious from my phrasing of my question starting with "what particularly hooked me was" -- I am looking for stuff with the same kind of hook, if you will.

Battle of Algiers looks great, thanks.

Tears of the Sun had a promising premise, but the execution is utterly lame. I liked Three Kings very much; a little cartoony, but otherwise an excellent recommendation.

As mindless action movies go, Black Hawk is quite good (can't really say the same thing for Enemy Lines), but it fails utterly in all other respects, in my opinion; the only positive thing I can say about it is that I afterwards yearned to learn more about the Somali crisis. (The recent Lord of War is similarly flawed film with very interesting subject matter.)

I'm going to check out the other recommendations.

jeanmari, Oslo doesn't have much, and what it does have is insanely expensive -- and I don't feel like paying $50 for a film unless it happens to be a box set of my favourite director's best films. My point was just that I would have a hard time hunting down some of this stuff. For example, Jung (War) in the Land of the Mujaheddin is not even on DVD. But you're right, Kandahar is.
posted by gentle at 6:03 PM on November 15, 2005

The Pianist: seconded. And coming at your question from a slightly obtuse angle: Brazil. But for God's sake see the uncut version.
posted by Decani at 7:10 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: Brazil is great.
posted by gentle at 8:20 PM on November 15, 2005

Sometimes In April by HBO Films was, in my opinion, a much better film if you'd like to stay on the topic of Rwanda. It can be rented at most video stores.
posted by cior at 5:02 AM on November 16, 2005

I'll second cior's rec. as it is definitely in line with the examples you've given.
posted by shoepal at 8:42 AM on November 16, 2005

As a tangent from the Killing Fields, may I suggest Swimming to Cambodia, which is hard to find but a lot more interesting than it sounds.

Unflinching story of a guy flinching. And a lot of history.
posted by Phred182 at 7:35 AM on July 11, 2006

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