Ghosts of Rwanda
Press Reaction

Boston Globe Sam Allis

"'Ghosts of Rwanda' excels in pacing and thematic balance. It never overwhelms the viewer with grisly footage of corpses at the expense of the critical issue of world inaction. The sound bites from Bill Clinton and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (then head of the organization's peacekeeping operations) are as devastating as the footage of bloated bodies floating down a river."

The New Republic Lee Siegel

"As an act of memory and witness; as historical indictment of not just the perpetrators of genocide, but also of the politicians and bureaucrats who allowed it to happen; as an illumination of the motives driving the murderers, as well as those animating the individuals caught in an unimaginable situation, 'Ghosts of Rwanda' fails to tell a coherent story. ...

It fails to offer viewers consolation for its images of men, women, and children hacked to death by machetes, or to offer reassurance that international mechanisms are now in place to prevent such atrocities from happening again. That is to say, 'Ghosts of Rwanda' is a success;..."

New York Daily News David Bianculli

"If you watch this two-hour special and wonder why Rwanda, then and now, does not qualify as a more significant and familiar story on American television, then 'Frontline,' once again, has done its job beautifully.

"Too bad so few other network news programs and organizations can say the same thing."

Rocky Mountain News Dusty Saunders

"Viewers caught up in the debate about terrorist attacks, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the tinderbox situation in the Middle East may not have much interest in a grim, two-hour reminder of an event that occurred 10 years ago.

"But once you begin 'Ghosts of Rwanda' you'll be caught up in this haunting documentary. ... 'Ghosts of Rwanda' pulls no punches, indicting the Clinton administration and the president himself. "

Newsday Noel Holston

"'Ghosts of Rwanda' has the scope and the dramatic immediacy of an epic miniseries such as Herman Wouk's "War & Remembrance." What makes it bearable to watch, despite scenes that recall Nazi death camps, and bearable to contemplate, despite widespread evidence of moral dereliction, are the acts of humanitarianism and heroism documented. ... 'Ghosts of Rwanda' is almost as humbling as it is horrifying."

The Washington Post Lynne Duke

"Perhaps the most comprehensive documentary look at the genocide, it is a chronology of events before and during the killing. And its gruesomeness is not at all an over-dramatization, says Barker, the producer, who gave much consideration to what level of carnage to show. ...

"The footage of the dead punctuates a narrative of maddening international indifference to Rwanda's straits."

New York Times Virginia Heffernan

"Though the documentary's participants come up with a range of motives for why the United States and the United Nations held back, they supply few actual reasons, good or bad. ...

[T]hese apologists seem to believe it is better to be seen as having bumbled along with no plan last time than to state a plan and be taken to task for it in the future."

Philadelphia Daily News Ellen Gray

"'Ghosts of Rwanda' doesn't lay any ghosts to rest, or suggest any easy solutions.

"It's only guaranteed to haunt us, too.

"As well it should."

home · introduction · analysis · interviews · timeline · rwanda today · video
the responsibility to protect · discussion · producer's chat · links & readings · press reaction · tapes & transcripts
credits · teacher's guide · viewer's guide · privacy policy
FRONTLINE home · wgbh · pbsi

posted april 1, 2004

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
photo copyright © antony njuguna/reuters
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation