The Kite Runner is a 2007 movie adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini. It is directed by Marc Foster and the screenplay written by David Benioff. It was released by Universal Pictures. Much of the film’s dialogue is in Dari and English, though Urdu and Pashtu are also used. Though the film is set in Afghanistan, shooting was done mostly in Kashgar, China due to the dangers present in Afghanistan during that time.
Plot. The movie tells the story of Amir, a rich man from Kabul, Afghanistan, whose guilt of abandoning the son of his father’s servant forces him to return back to his native land. The movie takes us to several events – from before and after the fall of the monarchy of Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of Afghan refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the Taliban regime.
It begins with two kids playing with kite in Kabul, Afghanistan. The one who flies the kite is Amir, who enjoys writing and literature and who is the son of a rich Afghan. The other boy is illiterate Hassan, who is the son of Amir’s father’s servant. Hassan runs the kite for Amir, which means that whenever Amir makes another kite falls, Hassan would run to salvage the loss. Both grow up to be friends, Hassan being the rescuer for Amir is a weakling.
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Soon, the Soviets invade Afghanistan, and Amir and his father, who is known as an anti-communist, have to flee. Their house and properties are entrusted to a friend named Rahim Khan. Hassan is also left behind. Amir and his father cross Pakistan and eventually reach the United States where they start a new life.
Years later, Amir has married a beautiful general’s daughter and has already become a novelist. By then, his father has died. One day, Rahim Khan contacts him to hurry to Pakistan. Despite the dangers, Hassan goes to Pakistan and learns that Hassan eventually became caretaker of his father’s house, but that he and his wife were executed by the Taliban for refusing to abandon the property. More painfully, Amir discovers that Hassan is actually his half-brother, son of his father and their servant woman. He is angered with the deception, but subsides when he reads Hassan’s letter asking his friend to return one day. Rahim then informs him that Hassan has now an orphaned son, Sohrab, who is in the hands of the Taliban. By Rahim’s urging, Amir agrees to find the child and bring him to the States.
Amir then leaves for the Taliban-controlled Kabul and traces Sohrab to an orphanage. However, Sohrab is already taken by a powerful Taliban official. Amir further searches and finds out that the official is actually an old menace from his childhood. After a brutal fight and risky escape, Amir rescues Sohrab.
Sohrab has been traumatized and Amir learns about the cruelty he suffered. Immediately, Amir takes Sohrab to the United States and keeps him in his home. In the final scene, Amir shows Sohrab the tricks of flying a kite. Sohrab slowly interacts with him. Amir then becomes the kite runner and pledges Sohrab with Hassan’s words before: “For you, a thousand times over.”
Commentary. The Kite Runner is a melodramatic and inspiring adaptation of a great book. Its brilliant cinematography takes us into many historical events, and scenes after scenes are overwhelmingly believable and filled with nostalgic air. The actors are also not popular, and this freshness and naivety bring crude emotion, irresistibility to audience, and a general plausible performance. Yet, there are some factual flaws in the movie with regards to the Taliban way of life like the punishment of women, ruling on music, and dress code.
More than the technical aspect is the underlying messages of the movie. The movie is about a man’s guilt which drives him back to the place where he can redeem himself and make up for his shortcoming. As a young boy, Amir has mistreated Hassan in many ways. He envies him for his boldness and strength. He uses him for many selfish acts. Hassan is even raped by the Afghan boys after following one of his orders. But in return, Hassan remains the faithful servant and friend. Even when Amir migrates to the United States, it is Hassan who takes care of their house and their memories. Years roll and Hassan remains as faithful as ever. It is an incredible faith and love, for actually, Hassan is his brother. This knowledge opens up Amir’s mind and heart. But it is too late for Hassan has died, and the only way he can make up for everything is to rescue his brother’s son.
As in real life, acceptance, forgiveness, love, and redemption may take so long to come. For many, it takes many years or several miles before they realize the value of people around them. It is a sad and aching truth that only with absence that we appreciate our loved ones. But it is never actually too late, for there would be others whom he can give the love and affection we once denied.
Lastly, I would have to give the production team of the movie a great credit for coming up with the movie. The Kite Runner is just one of the few great films about the Taliban regime that I have watched. The perils and hardships these people gave to produce the film are praiseworthy and deserve a large round of applause.
Reception. The film has generally positive reviews. It gathered a “fresh rating” of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic. It was also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film in the 65th Golden Globe Awards.
Rating. Without doubt, the film deserves five stars out of five.
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