The Kite Runner dir. by Marc Forster
based on book by Khaled Hosseini
I haven’t read the book this film is based on so I can’t comment on how well the story makes the translation from one medium to the other. The film tells the story of a young boy growing up in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion, and so before the Taliban came to power. He is best friends with a younger boy who is the family’s servant’s son, Hassan. We first meet Amir and Hassan when they are flying kites above Kabul. Hassan is the best kite runner in the city; he chases, or runs, down the kites that have had their strings cut. But Hassan is of a different tribe to Amir and so both have to put up with a lot of bullying. As Amir’s Baba laments, Amir rarely stands up for himself, it is always the younger Hassan who fights back.
On what should have been the day of their greatest triumph, they’ve just won the city’s kite tournament, Hassan is attacked by the bullies while running down a kite. Amir witnesses the attack and rape but does nothing to interfere. Afterwards his guilt and shame turn into a form of anger and Amir tries to drive Hassan away. He insults him, he throws fruit at him, he even accuses him of being a thief. Eventually he succeeds in his task and Hassan and his father leave the city.
Not long after Amir and his father are also forced to flee Kabul. The Soviets invade and as an out spoken critic of communism Amir’s father fears for his safety and that of his son. As they escape Afghanistan we see Baba’s bravery as he tries to protect a woman from being raped by a soldier. And I have to say that the performance by Homayoun Ershadi is reason enough to go see this film.
The film then moves to modern day America, San Francisco, and we see how Amir’s life has progressed. I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story by telling what happens next, but basically it depicts how Amir tries to come to grips with the shame of his past. How that day so long ago influenced so much of what he became.
I really liked this film. I knew very little about it before I went in; the whole thing worked so well. Cinemaography, acting, storyline, all combined to make for a great film. I’m guessing that it would best be described as poignant and touching, but I hate those sort of descriptions, they always seem, I don’t know, overly sentimental or melodramatic. I suppose in a way that fits with any sort of redemptive film, but they seem tinged with negativity, so I’m not sure that they’re all that useful.
Whatever my descriptions may be, you should go see this film.