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<email@example.com> In three recent films about African atrocity, The Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond, and Hotel Rwanda, it interesting what gets said but not shown. In Hotel Rwanda, an excellent film in my opinion, the conflict's root cause is briefly posited in a didactic moment among key characters. The fact is given, unquestioned, that Belgians introduced a false distinction within an amorphous African population, granting some the ethnicity Tutsi to dignify a ruling, if non-European, class. The ethnic distinction that Hutu and Tutsi claim to be physical and deep is really a crafty Belgian charade. This neatly fits a dominant paradigm of social construction, but is hardly a scholarly consensus. In Blood Diamond, an average film in my opinion, the European-American-South African root cause is even more pedantically coded, right into the title. Little if any reference is given to the Liberian origin of the conflict, run by invaders from Liberia (though some were Sierra Leonians returning from time spent in the Liberian conflict). The diamond mines were fuel thrown on an already blazing fire. Also, the audience is left to assume that it was diamond-interest mercenaries who finally uprooted the rebels, which is untrue. In Last King of Scotland, a lousy film in my opinion, the English are made unequivocally responsible for Amin's rise to power, and of course the Scottish doctor plays a key role in causing the deaths of the people we see. Behind each of these geopolitical explanations is the same dynamic. Causal agency is granted to non-Africans, and removed from Africans. The big-budget films dare to say that the West is the root of African evil, and Africans are history's mere pawns. But what isn't shown? Atrocities. Hotel Rwanda does show scattered corpses, and has a very effective scene where a car rides over bumps that we learn are people. But the Rwandan genocide involved hatcheting people to death, by hundreds and thousands. Film critics agreed the filmmakers chose wisely to refrain from such graphic imagery. Blood Diamond had a brief exposition of chopping off of hands, but the rest of the picture showed splays of machine gun fire and explosions. I can attest, having been in Sierra Leone during the war's beginning , that guns were plentiful, but not bullets. Children were not given license to waste Rambo-scale rounds of ammunition. The worst violence was again by machete, and again it occurs off camera. In Last King of Scotland, Amin's atrocities are barely shown. Instead we remain as ignorant as the foolish doctor, getting information from newspaper images he reads. In all three cases, the films spare audiences from graphic recreations of the actual atrocities. The is rather unusual, since other big-budget movies have no scruples about such displays. Uber-violence is Hollywood's idea of freedom of expression. Perhaps it takes a special kind of producer/director team to make an African movie, who are temperamentally uninclined to recreate atrocities. Or maybe not. If presented with wide-screen recreations of hundreds of innocents hacked to death in gruesome realistic detail, the audience might "mistakenly" conclude that Africans, by themselves, are capable of epic brutality that stamps history for millennia. Brian Coyle