Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Kite Runner. Out today. This movie will rip your heart out. (********8/10)

The Kite Runner was one of the best books of the past few years, and now it is a great movie. If you have read the book, you know what takes place in the movie, and make no mistake, it is devastating. That being said, it is definitely worth watching. A young boy named Amir lives in Afghanistan with his father and their servants, one of whom is his best friend Hassan. They do everything together, including the big kite competition. Once a year, every child in Kabul gets a kite with razor wire and competes to cut the wires of the other kites. The one who is left at the end of the day is the champion. This is a big honour, and Amir is eager to impress his father Baba, who seems to favour Hassan for being more manly. Hassan is the best kite runner in Kabul, the boy who always brings home the big prize - the last kite to be cut.

On this particular day, however, a horrific event will change their lives forever. Hassan, who is Hazara, is assaulted by a group of older, racist boys who hate all Hazara. Amir witnesses the assault, but does nothing to prevent it. He is so ashamed of himself that he attempts to drive Hassan and his family out of the house. Many years go by, and Amir and Baba flee Afghanistan when the Russians invade. They make it to Pakistan and eventually to Cailfornia where Amir graduates from school and gets married. A phone call from Afghanistan plunges him back into the life he left behind, when Rahim Khan, a friend of the family, calls Amir and tells him "there is a way to be good again".

Amir returns to Afghanistan, now run by the Taliban, a brutal regime that includes public stonings, racial intolerance, and the worst kind of oppression. His mission is to rescue a young boy, Hassan’s son, from the clutches of one of his childhood tormentors. I won’t explain the details of that rescue attempt, because I hope people will watch this movie and I don’t want to play spoiler. The only spoiler here is this: This movie will break your heart. It is devastating and sad and incredibly powerful, as is the book. If you choose one over the other, choose the book, because at least you can put it down for a while.

The other reason to choose the book is that so much more can be included in a novel than in a film. While reading, you understand all of Amir’s emotions, all of his thoughts and innate prejudices, and you sympathize with him a little more. In the movie, although he is just a child, you watch his actions and you hate him. If the movie was able to explain a little more in depth what his motivations were, it would be a little easier to stomach. You might still hate Amir, at least when he is a child, but at least you understand a little more. But The Kite Runner is a very good movie, and even without that extra detail it is an incredibly powerful piece of cinema. The performances by the children are outstanding, especially Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada as the unfortunate Hassan. I certainly hope these kids get a chance to appear in other movies, perhaps movies that aren’t so soul-crushing. The Kite Runner is great, and it comes out on DVD today courtesy of Alliance Films.

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