The Kite Runner
Distributed by: DreamWorks Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I first saw promos for The Kite Runner, I was mildly interested, but after I received the soundtrack, I found myself becoming more interested. My research revealed that the movie was based on a book by Khaled Housseini and the storyline was fairly interesting. I wondered whether I should check out the book first or read the movie. As it turns out, I had the opportunity to check out the movie the other day and decided to jump on it.
The Kite Runner stars Khalid Abdalla as Amir Qadiri, a successful writer who left Afghanistan many years ago. As he and his wife celebrate the publishing of his latest novel, Amir gets a phone call from a very old friend in Pakistan, Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub). Rahim explains to Amir that he is needed in Afghanistan as his childhood playmate Hassan is in trouble.
From this moment, the film flashes back to Amirís childhood (Zekeria Ebrahimi) during which his closest friend is the son of his fatherís Hazara servant Ali (Nabi Tanha). Despite their differing backgrounds Ė Amirís father (Homayoun Ershadi) is a wealthy philanthropist and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmizada) a poor servantís child Ė the two are terrific friends who enjoy flying kites. In fact, they make a great team and appear to be inseparable with Hassan marveling at Amirís storytelling abilities and Amir marveling at how easily Hassan is able to track down wayward kites.
One day, during a kite flying competition, Hassan tracks down a kite won by Amir and runs afoul of a Pashtun bully named Aseef (Elham Ehsas) and his two friends. Hassan has defended Amir against these bullies in the past and that, in addition to his Hazara heritage, has Aseef seeking revenge. Amir arrives in time to witness his friend being raped by his worst enemy, but is too afraid to intervene and runs away. His guilt over the incident becomes a wall that pushes Amir further and further away from Hassan.
The Kite Runner is a poignant look at how guilt can nearly destroy someoneís life, yet there is always room for redemption. Guilt felt by Amir regarding his motherís dying in child birth defined his strained relationship with his father. Guilt destroyed Amirís friendship with his friend. Guilt defines all of his relationships until the moment when Amir can find redemption, traveling to Afghanistan to finally help the friend he abandoned all those years ago.
There are some profound insights made in this movie. My favorite is Amirís fatherís ruminations regarding real sin. ďThere is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft... When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.Ē I love these lines Ė they are absolutely true when you think about them. Of course, Amir interprets this poorly. He believes he stole his motherís life, thus has sinned and deserves shame, possibly why he doesnít defend himself when greeted by bullies. Amir also improperly uses his fatherís beliefs regarding the sin of theft to push Hassan away, thus keeping Hassan from reminding him of his guilt at not aiding Hassan in his greatest need Ė quite ironic seeing as though he lied about the incident, stealing Hassanís right to the truth and he didnít come to Hassanís aide, allowing Hassanís innocence to be stolen.
I also loved that The Kite Runner was a lesson in the history of Afghanistan. I found it quite interesting to see the political history of the country play out through the eyes of Amir and his father, from the issues the Pashtun had with the Hazara to the Russian invasion to the ruling of the Taliban. This is a country with a history of unrest, both political and religious and it was quite interesting to see how the country changed from decade to decade, making it what it has become today.
I loved the human side of this story as well as the political undertones and I loved getting a view of the Afghani culture as a whole. The Kite Runner is a dramatic film with some rather mature themes. This is not exactly a family style film, but it is an important film for our time. I enjoyed watching this film so much that I canít wait to read the book. Oh, and as for the soundtrack Ė now I see how well the soundtrack fit with the movie, accentuating the visuals and adding depth to some of the most dramatic scenes in the film. Visually interesting and dramatically charged, The Kite Runner is a movie well-worth watching.