Shake Hands With The Devil Peter Raymont

If you saw the hour-long edit that aired on the CBC back in January, you haven't seen this film at all. This is more than a history of the Rwandan genocide — where 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days — and it's more than a vindication of Lt. General Romeo Dallaire and his admission that the entire UN peacekeeping mission was little more than "a bluff." This is the story of Dallaire's decision to "go back into hell" on the tenth anniversary of the genocide to face the demons that have dogged him day and night ever since he left. Director Peter Raymont uses Dallaire's present and past experience as the audience's window into the utterly unimaginable; the complex history of the situation is woven with both brevity and balance into the current narrative. Raymont purposely avoided narration as a storytelling device, and when you hear his own somnambulant tones on the director's commentary track, it was definitely a good idea. Nonetheless, Raymont's commentary adds a whole other dimension to understanding what Dallaire was going through during his ten-day return to Rwanda. As the film crew follows him to various public functions and memorial sites — some of which haven't been touched in ten years, leaving gruesome tactile evidence — Raymont continually wonders if both he and even Dallaire himself are pushing the General too far to the edges of his sanity, yet Dallaire is remarkably stoic in his sorrow and outrage. The only misfire is the superfluous second commentary track, where Toronto Star critic Geoff Pevere "ums and ahs" and points out the painfully obvious ("that's Dallaire there," when there's no one else in the frame). The other DVD extras are illuminating: a photo gallery with director commentary, a TV interview with Raymont, Dallaire reading excerpts of his book, and a thorough bibliography and filmography if you want to investigate the genocide even further. (Microfilms)