Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire

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Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Raymont
Produced byExecutive Producers:
Tom Neff
Peter Raymont
Lindalee Tracey
Story byRoméo Dallaire
StarringRoméo Dallaire
Music byMark Korven
CinematographyJohn Westheuser
Edited byMichèle Hozer
Distributed byCanadian Broadcasting Corporation
California Newsreel
(United States)
Release date
  • September 12, 2004 (2004-09-12) (Canada)
  • March 11, 2005 (2005-03-11) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
56 minutes
Box office$68,249 (domestic) [1]

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire is a 2004 documentary film about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It was directed by Peter Raymont and inspired by the book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (2003), by now-retired Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire. It was co-produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Société Radio-Canada, White Pine Pictures, and DOC: The Documentary Channel.[2]


Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days. Most of the dead were Tutsis by the hands of the Hutus. The genocide began when Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana's plane was shot down above Kigali airport on April 6, 1994.

Canadian Armed Forces General Roméo Dallaire was put in charge of a United Nations peacekeeping force during this 1994 genocide. His proposal called for 5000 soldiers to permit orderly elections and the return of the refugees. The soldiers were never supplied and the killing began.

The documentary tells the story of the now-retired Dallaire, and shows his return to Rwanda after ten years. It features interviews with Stephen Lewis and BBC reporter Mark Doyle, among others.



In Canada, a shortened English version of the 91-minute film was broadcast on CBC Television and CBC Newsworld on January 31 and February 2, 2005, and, subsequently, via CBC On Demand.

A 91-minute and 56-minute English Versions; 56-minute French Version was released on DVD, Region 1 (North America).

The film has its American television premiere on DOC: The Documentary Channel.

Critical reception[edit]

When the film opened in New York City, film critic Stephen Holden gave the film a positive review, and wrote, "The film ... is a respectful portrait of General Dallaire, now retired, who comes across as a thoughtful, resolute but profoundly shaken man, more philosopher than warrior ... If Terry George's wrenching film Hotel Rwanda and Raoul Peck's HBO movie Sometimes in April have already put a tragic human face on a catastrophe that the American mass media barely acknowledged while it was happening, Shake Hands With the Devil ratifies their horrifying visions. General Dallaire's descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of human butchery, as well as the movie's images of piles of dead bodies, severed limbs and rooms of skulls, are grimmer than anything seen in those films ... Beyond apportioning blame, Shake Hands With the Devil acknowledges that the capacity for evil is a human component. Under certain conditions, entire populations can lose their humanity and go berserk. With madness all around him, General Dallaire maintained his humanity and (just barely) his sanity."[3]

Jonathan Curiel, staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, interviewed Dallaire when the film was released, and wrote, "Raymont's movie, Dallaire says, is another way to raise awareness about Rwanda's legacy. But whether he likes it or not, Shake Hands With the Devil is also a chance to peer into Dallaire's inner thoughts—to get to know a man who says he's not a hero but 'a humanist'. If history is best understood through the decisions of individual men and women, then Raymont's film lets audiences revisit the siege of Rwanda through the eyes of a retired officer (and newly appointed Canadian senator) who tried to prevent hell on earth."[4]




  1. ^ Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire on IMDb .
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen. The New York Times, film review, "Ten Years Later, Back at the Killing Fields to Heal the Spirit", May 18, 2005. Last accessed: April 16, 2008.
  4. ^ Curiel, Jonathan. San Francisco Chronicle, film review, June 10, 2005. Last accessed: April 17, 2008.
  5. ^ The Emmy Awards Archived 2013-05-29 at the Wayback Machine.. On-line web site, 27th Annual News and Documentary Awards, 2006. Last accessed: April 16, 2008.

External links[edit]