This quote requires some context. A few weeks ago, our home school curriculum had us studying East Africa, so I watched Hotel Rwanda with my kids. (Surprisingly, it is only PG-13, even though it is about a horrific ethnic massacre.)
The hero of the move is Paul Rusesabagina. He is a Hutu (aggressor group), but like many, many Hutus, he is married to a Tutsi (scapegoated group) and has Tutsi friends and neighbors. He is the manager of a Belgian-run hotel, so he moves in the circles of the powerful. One major theme of the movie is that Paul has all these connections among government employees, local businessmen, and even outside the country. He is counting on these connections to help him save his family, but he finds that he’s not always successful when calling in favors.
It is in this context that the following conversation takes place. Paul and his wife, Tasiana, are holed up in the hotel along with hundreds of their Tutsi neighbors, and at this point in the movie they are basically under siege. The two of them have a “romantic” date on the roof of the hotel, drinking some of the wine that Paul still has on hand, to the sound of gunfire in the background. Then Paul has a confession to make.
Paul: I have a confession. Before we got married, I bribed the Minister of Health to have you transferred to [a nursing job in] Kigali.
Tasiana: What for?
Paul: To be close. So I could marry you.
Tasiana: What was the bribe? How much am I worth to you?
Paul: It was substantial.
Tasiana: What was the bribe?
Paul: A car.
Tasiana: What kind of car?
Paul: Why do you need to know that?
Tasiana: I want to know. What kind of car?
Paul: It was a Volkswagon.
Tasiana (laughing): I hope it was a new one.Hotel Rwanda
This was the biggest laugh-out-loud moment in the movie for me. What could be more romantic than bribing someone with a Volkswagon so you can be with the girl you love, in a context where bribery is a way of life?
Seconds later, Paul is telling Tasiana that if the hotel is breached and he is killed, she should throw herself and their children off the roof to avoid being killed by machete.
This movie is about love in more ways than one.
Happy Valentine’s Day!