Monday, January 28, 2008

Beyond the Gates lies Death and Disgrace

Warning: I give the plot away in this post.

As I was making my way down the aisle at the local Hollywood Video, hubby came up clutching Beyond the Gates. I hesitated, pointing out that it would be the third Rwandan Genocide movie I've endured. But if it says Africa on the case....

The film covers the events at a Catholic school in Rwanda, the Ecole Technique Officielle, where over 2,500 Rwandan Tutsi's sought shelter when the killing began. They were seeking the protection of a contingent of UN soldiers who had been stationed there. In the film, as the days wear on, the true nature of the UN becomes apparent. When a group of white people is brought in, the officer demands rooms with bathrooms for them. Apparently the great outdoors was fine for the Black Rwandans but not for the white Bwanas. Then as mobs of thugs begin to gather outside the gates, the French military sends trucks to rescue only the French. After much arguing, all whites are taken out of the danger zone, leaving a few thousand blacks.

With the machete wielding thugs massed outside, the only thing preventing a massacre is the presence of the UN soldiers, although they can only fire when fired upon. The climax of the movie comes when the soldiers are ordered to evacuate to the airport, leaving thousands of Rwandans to certain death.

All along, I kept thinking of Hotel Rwanda. I waited for the head officer to flout his orders, or for the BBC reporter to publicize events and bring pressure to bear. Neither happened. The people left behind were all murdered; the UN did nothing to stop it. And sadly, it's a true story.

As the movie ended and the credits rolled, it became apparent that members of the film crew had lived through the Genocide. One had actually taken refuge at the school and only survived by hiding under the dead bodies of his family. Brutal.

Here is the movie website for more info.

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