Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Brief Intro

🛎️ Hotel Rwanda is a powerful 2004 drama directed by Terry George. It recounts the harrowing true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who saved over a thousand refugees during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This film is not just a historical recount; it’s a tapestry of cinematic and literary artistry that brings depth to the events it portrays.

Literary Devices Used in Hotel Rwanda


Movie SceneDevice Example
Paul bribing the soldiers to save Tutsi refugeesSituational irony: A hotel manager, rather than a politician or soldier, becomes the savior.
International media ignoring the genocideDramatic irony: The audience knows the severity while the world turns a blind eye.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The hotel as a safe havenSymbolizes sanctuary amidst chaos.
Paul’s suitRepresents his initial detachment from the conflict, which changes over time.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Early tension between Hutu and Tutsi staffForeshadows the outbreak of violence.
News reports about increasing violenceHint at the impending genocide.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The luxurious hotel vs. the chaos outsideHighlights the stark contrast between safety and danger.
Paul’s composed demeanor vs. the panicked refugeesEmphasizes his strength and leadership.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Repeated scenes of briberyCorruption and the price of human life.
Radio broadcastsConstant presence of propaganda fueling hatred.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Paul’s memories of his familyProvides backstory and emotional depth.
Recollections of pre-genocide RwandaContrasts the past peace with present violence.


Movie SceneDevice Example
References to historical figures and eventsAnchors the story in real history.
Mentions of UN and international politicsReflects on global inaction.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The hotel as a microcosm of RwandaRepresents the broader societal breakdown.
Paul’s negotiation tacticsMetaphor for the delicate balance of survival.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Scenes of families being torn apartEvokes strong emotional responses.
Orphaned children seeking refugeHighlights the human cost of conflict.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Soldiers looting the hotelSituational irony: supposed protectors become predators.
Westerners leaving while locals sufferDramatic irony: international community’s apathy.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Paul Rusesabagina

SymbolismPaul’s suit: His transition from a neutral businessman to a compassionate savior.
IronyA hotel manager becomes a hero in a situation where leaders fail.

Tatiana Rusesabagina

PathosHer fear and resilience humanize the tragedy.
ForeshadowingHer early concerns hint at the impending disaster.

Colonel Oliver

JuxtapositionHis authority vs. his powerlessness to change the situation.
AllusionRepresents the ineffectiveness of UN forces.

Character Dynamics

JuxtapositionPaul and General Bizimungu’s relationship highlights moral contrasts.
IronyRelationships between characters, such as Paul’s interactions with diplomats, reveal the absurdity and tragedy of the international response.

Thematic Analysis

Humanity and Compassion

SymbolismThe hotel as a safe haven amid chaos.
PathosEmotional scenes showcasing human kindness amidst horror.

Corruption and Bribery

MotifRepeated scenes of bribery to save lives.
IronyThe necessity of corruption for survival.

International Apathy

AllusionReferences to the UN and international community.
Dramatic IronyThe audience knows the severity while the world ignores it.

Survival and Resilience

MetaphorThe hotel as a microcosm of Rwanda.
ForeshadowingEarly tension signaling the coming struggle for survival.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
IronyCamera angles showing disparity between safety and chaosEmphasizes situational irony.
SymbolismLighting and color contrasts inside vs. outside the hotelHighlights symbolic safe haven.
PathosClose-up shots during emotional scenesIntensifies emotional impact.
ForeshadowingOminous music during news reportsHints at impending doom.
JuxtapositionSplit-screen scenesShow contrasts between different characters’ experiences.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene 1: Refugees Entering the Hotel

Link to Scene on YouTube

  • Breakdown: This scene uses close-ups to capture the fear and desperation on the refugees’ faces. The stark lighting contrasts between the chaotic outside and the safe interior of the hotel, emphasizing the symbolism of the hotel as a sanctuary.

Scene 2: Paul’s Negotiation with the General

Link to Scene on YouTube

  • Breakdown: The tension is heightened through tight framing and quick cuts. Paul’s calm yet desperate tone juxtaposed with the General’s indifferent demeanor showcases dramatic irony and the motif of corruption.

Scene 3: The Departure of Westerners

Link to Scene on YouTube

  • Breakdown: The use of slow-motion and a somber soundtrack underscores the gravity of the situation. This scene is rich with irony as the international community evacuates, leaving the locals to fend for themselves.


Interactive Quiz

  1. Which literary device is exemplified by the hotel’s contrasting safety with the outside chaos?
  2. What does Paul’s suit symbolize throughout the film?
    • A) His wealth
    • B) His detachment
    • C) His transition
  3. How does the use of radio broadcasts function as a literary device?
  4. Which device is primarily used to evoke strong emotional responses from the audience?
  5. The relationship between Paul and General Bizimungu primarily illustrates which literary device?


  1. C) Juxtaposition
  2. C) His transition
  3. B) Motif
  4. B) Pathos
  5. A) Juxtaposition