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Shake Hands with the Devil (Unrated)

Release Date: May 18th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum)

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Roméo Dallaire, who courageously traveled to Rwanda in 1994 on a UN mission to peacefully end the Rwanda Genocide.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This documentary is beautifully shot with awe-inspiring scenery of Rwanda's many green forests and hills. The weather is often very pleasant. This pleasant landscape is in sharp contrast to what went on in 1994 with the mass killings of a tribe called the Tutsis. What happens to the Tutsis is horrific and shocking in every sense of those words. There are a few necessarily graphic scenes that heighten the impact while making it more real and sad. This documentary's structure is very effective in the way it does not just tell, but it also shows--and a photograph or video is worth a thousand words.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Although this film does show a lot, it does have something intriguing and insightful to say. Dallaire ultimately has a dilemma to either give up and leave or stay and continue to risk his life--mentally and physically. He is very open and honest about his feeling on the horror of war. He did save lives, but he claims that he could have saved more. The ultimate, very profound question that bothers him is whether or not a small difference in his actions could have prevented the war. If only the UN helped Dallaire, perhaps with better communication, his question would be answered, more people might have been saved and he would have been much happier. Regardless of how many people he saved, he is still a hero--although a complex one. The final scene with him and his wife is very moving and uplifting.



THE BOTTOM LINE: An intense, moving, thought-provoking, and very important documentary about a complex hero with a very big heart.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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