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I am exploring themes in the films Schindler's List and Hotel Rwanda.I have to do an...

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bursilym | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 29, 2010 at 4:15 AM via web

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I am exploring themes in the films Schindler's List and Hotel Rwanda.

I have to do an English assignment in which I have to write an essay comparing the similar themes in these films. One theme I found was the theme of good against evil and how good always defeats evil. Can anyone help me find more?


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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 29, 2010 at 4:31 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that you are on a very good track with the identification of good and evil in both works.  I would only caution you to clearly distill the entire dynamic.  Both works really do a good job of exploring that while good does triumph in the particulars over evil, there is a great deal of evil that does damage to the belief that good always wins.  In Schindler's List, for example, the film pulls no punches about the fact that Schindler "could have done more."  He, himself, admits to this.  The most powerful element of the work is that Keneally, and later Spielberg/ Zallian, do a great job in exploring how individuals are poised between good and evil polarities.  It is no accident that Goeth and Schindler are friends.  Within each, the other sees themselves.  There is much within Goeth that Schindler can see in his own sense of self.  Granted, at the end, it is clear that one is virtue and one is evil.  Yet, there are points in both book and film that show an uneasy closeness, almost intimacy, between both good and evill.  Schindler is such a complex character because his spiritual redemption is deferred for so long in the work.  It is only later on, when millions have died, does he awaken to his moral and ethical responsibility as a human being.  It is important to note this because the Holocaust, like all genocides, are not morality plays where good triumphs over evil.  They are discourses where we have to critically examine where individual action lies in the face of a world that is morally vague or silent to injustice.

This is probably where you would think about going with Hotel Rwanda. In both works, individuals, the protagonists, must undergo tremendous tests and overcome significant inertia in order for good to be done.  Both films reflect the difficulty that good faces in overcoming evil.  At the same time, while we might cherish and revel in the fact that both Oskar Schindler and Paul Rusesabagina represent the very best of humanity in what they did, the films remind us of two harsh accompanying realities.  The first is that while these individuals are heroic, their works have to be placed in the context that so many more were not as fortunate and so many more were silent or active collaborators with the forces of evil.  The second truth that accompanies each is that they were the minority of humanity at the time period.  For each hero, there were many more who failed to join them in a collective effort or show of solidarity.  This might be the ultimate message to us, the audience, in ensuring that we do not replicate the same sins that these heroes' contemporaries displayed.

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