Shooting Dogs (Michael Caton-Jones, UK/Germany, 2005) Odeon West End, 31 October 15:30
Seeing this film was a difficult but very rewarding journey. It starts out with the atmosphere in Kigali prior to April 1994, portraying human relationships. It accurately shows that prior to the events of April 1994, both communities cohabited in peace and support. As the film progresses, we start feeling the tensions and the planning of the extremist government. I thought this change was extremely well captured, despite being very difficult to do.
Some of the scenes such as the attempted escape of some refugees from the Ecole Polytechnique were extremely hard to view but are necessary to show the brutality of what happened.
I particularly praise the director’s capacity to accurately and historically tell the events but without passing judgment. The viewer sees the difficult decisions people had to make and makes his own opinion up about everything that has happened. I think the film really showed that we are all capable of committing such heinous crimes.
The actors were also amazing. We truly understand the dilemmas they all face. Hugh Dancy, torn between his will to help but his fear of dying; John Hurt supporting the community and believing in human goodness until the end; and Claire Hope Ashitey who sees the destruction of the world she lives in. All stunning and emotional performances.
One thing I would have done differerently, though is one scene where the French soldiers arrive at the Ecole Polytechnique. They talk to the Belgian commander but there were no subtitles. I would recommend adding subtitles to those things said.
I also particularly appreciated hearing the director’s and actors’ views on their experience in Rwanda.
The conclusion is that this is an amazing film that is honest and has integrity. It is an extremely accurate description of the events in 1994 and I would recommend it without hesitation to anyone interested in the subject.