Hotel Rwanda DVD Review
PicturePresented here in a 2.35: 1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, MGM have pulled out all the stops to give Hotel Rwanda a transfer of the highest quality and this is one of the best I have seen in a long time. With the stark, devastating nature of the images on show, a clear, crisp picture quality was needed for the audience to really feel the anguish and pain of those involved and that's exactly what the film gets, emphasizing even more the devastation of the genocide. Everything from the marches of the militia through the city streets, the harrowing shots of bodies crumpled on the floor and the flesh tones of the actors are flawlessly realised, impeccably portraying the overwhelming sense of death and devastation, without any signs of edge enhancements, picture grain or blemishes. Colour too is rich, bold and sharp throughout, giving the already multi-coloured surroundings of Africa an extra dimension, with blues, yellows and reds being particularly strong, with no signs of colour disfigurements or bleeding. In addition, the sight of the sun beaming down upon the sandy Rwandan streets, or the monsoon-like rainfall which pops up during the film, are too superbly realised.
SoundAs with the picture quality, the DVD audio transfer is also superb. The front channels are primarily used to house the films dialogue, with everything from Cheadle's calm, affecting voice, to Nolte's more brazen, frustrated tones given a strong, crisp transfer. Also in the front channels are the surrounding noises that encompass Rwanda. At the beginning of the film we are presented with the joyous sounds of children playing happily on the streets, as cars return home after work, to later be thrown fully into the genocide, with guns and bombs overtaking the screen as they get closer and closer to the innocent and into the centre of the conflict. In fact, all of the sights and sounds of Rwanda and its people are perfectly accomplished, being both well-defined and sharp, and filtering through vividly. The back channels too take some of the weight of the action, together with the films harrowing but exceptional score, created by the three created music makers Andrea Guerra, Rupert Gregson-Williams and Jerry “Wonder” Duplessis, as well as the main theme by musician Wyclef Jean.
ExtrasThe extras are good on the whole, with the main attraction being the commentaries from director Terry George and the film's inspiration, Paul Rusesabagina. This commentary acts as more of a discussion between George and Rusesabagina, as they talk about the film and how it depicted Rwanda, as well as Rusesabagina sharing his memories and recollections of the events. There is also select commentary from musician Wyclef Jean, who adds his own views on Rwanda and the films music. As fascinating it is to hear Rusesabagina discuss his past, I would have preferred a separate feature of a discussion with him and George, to properly discuss the events separately, rather than over the film. Also, it would have given the director a little more freedom to discuss the making of the film. Also included is a scene specific commentary from Don Cheadle, which is a fantastic listen. I would recommend this over the other commentary, as Cheadle's tone of voice and admiration for the film are superb. He talks about his fear of playing someone who is not only still alive, but has done so much in his lifetime, discusses the director, his co-stars, the film himself and how he approached such a role as this, while also giving a great insight into the scenes he is discussing, of particular interest is the scene in which he has to bring his on-screen child back into the house covered in blood, which he says was one of the most difficult things he has ever done on screen. Documentary wise, we get two quite substantial ones here. The first documentary on the DVD is a making-of, which interviews the members of the cast and crew. It's particularly interesting, as it's the only piece in the special features to includes screenwriter Keir Pearson, who discuss his numerous meetings with Paul Rusesabagina and his relationship with director Terry George. In addition George, Cheadle and other members of the cast and crew all lend their opinions on the film in this enjoyable 30-minute documentary. The second 15-minute documentary follows PR as he travels back to Rwanda for the first time in a decade, accompanied by his wife, Tatiana. One is for sentimentalists only. Also included is the films theatrical trailer.
VerdictA compelling, thoughtful, inspiring and heartbreaking film, flawlessly produced and performed by everyone involved, with the crowning glory of Don Cheadle's miraculous performance as the film's hero. Combine this with a beautifully produced DVD, and an interesting group of features, and you get a film which takes its place alongside The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Schindler's List as one of the most moving films I have ever had the privilege of seeing. A modern masterpiece.
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