Eye For Film >> Movies >> Shake Hands With The Devil (2004) DVD Review
Shake Hands With The Devil
Reviewed by: Caro NessRead Caro Ness's film review of Shake Hands With The Devil
A great deal of care was taken with the sound mix and the soundtrack is always clear. Dallaire is a powerful speaker and this side of the production is particularly strong. Vision wise there are various sources for the archive material but this does not look out of place. Indeed they would look wrong if they were perfect in quality and they certainly leave nothing to the imagination, particularly the Hutus hacking the Tsutsis to death with machetes. As Dallaire says, this is something that has to be witnessed.
There are two commentaries, one by the Director, Peter Raymont that is somewhat concise and deferential and the other by Geoff Pever, the Toronto Star film critic, which is the exact opposite – a kind of breathless stream of consciousness. The consequence is that with one you feel you aren’t getting enough, with the other you tend to glaze over because you never get any respite. That is not to say that they are not both enlightening but they reveal more about the commentators than the film and, frankly, the film is powerful enough on its own merits. But Pevere does make one very illuminating point - that Dallaire’s ideals were so woefully ignored, distorted and eradicated in Rwanda and that is what affects him so deeply along with his guilt that he didn’t save more lives.
The interview with Peter Raymont touches on Raymont’s relationship with Dallaire, which though reverential was nevertheless ruthlessly honest and that rewards the director with a presence on camera that has humanity and integrity in every frame.
More extraordinary is an excerpt from a reading by Romeo Dallaire on the 10th anniversary memorial to the massacre held in Kigali in 2004. He reads two extracts from his book, both remarkable. In the first chilling memory, he recalls meeting with the Devils of the title, the Interhamwe, the Hutu extremists who used the media, particularly the radio, to start the atrocities. There was still blood on one of the representative’s sleeves and Dallaire recalls how he had emptied his gun before the meeting in case he was tempted to shoot them all. Out of respect for the UN they agreed not to massacre near UN protected sites, a clear admission of guilt. The second extract is more of a plea that the 21st century should become an age of humanity. Some hope!
There is also a photo gallery taken by Peter Bregg of Dallaire’s return to Rwanda. There is commentary on all 31 of these stills. Many of which are illuminating. There is one moment when we are looking at a schoolbook that lies in a church where thousands were shot and left to rot. The camera catches Bregg unawares and we see his emotional response for a mere instant but it truly mirrors our own reaction.
This is a truly remarkable and important film for many reasons. I just pray that people go out and buy, rent or borrow this film and listen to and learn from its message. Not for nothing did Robert Redford say this film was the kind of film his Sundance Festival was created for and, indeed, it won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at Sundance.Reviewed on: 19 Nov 2007