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The Kite Runner (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 2007 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Marc Forster / Actors: Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Toub ... / DVD released 2008-06-02 at Paramount Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      02.06.2010 21:27
      Very helpful
      1 Comment




      I recently reactivated my Lovefilm subscription (clearly a 14-film Alfred Hitchcock box set isn't enough for me) and one of the first films I received was The Kite Runner. I haven't read the book, but I have read and enjoyed Khaled Hossini's other novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, so I was looking forward to watching this.

      The film starts with main character Amir, living in the US, celebrating the publication of his first book. He gets a call from an old friend of his father, and then the story flashes back to Amir's childhood in 1970s Afghanistan. He is from a wealthy family and even then harboured dreams of becoming an author, spending lots of time with his friend and family servant Hassan. The two enjoy the hobby of kite running - chasing and collecting kites which have been cut down, and doing the cutting themselves - and Hassan is especially good at this. In fact Amir is rather jealous of Hassan and feels his father likes the other boy better for various different reasons, including Amir's apparent weakness and cowardice.

      These feelings and a chain of events lead Amir to betray Hassan hugely, and shortly afterwards he and his father are forced to flee to the US to escape the invading Communist Russians. Will he ever be able to make up for his betrayal?

      I really enjoyed this film. It was well-paced: not exactly fast moving, but smooth-running and compelling. The story was involving and I liked that everything was linked together. I was especially impressed by the acting: the two young boys playing Amir and Hassan, Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Mahmidzada, were excellent and very convincing in their different roles. I was also impressed by the adult Amir, Khalid Abdalla - it was rewarding to watch his character evolve throughout the second half of the film - and his father Homayoun Ershadi. Amir's father had the most difficult role in some ways, having to go from a rich confident man with a position in society to a US immigrant forced to work at a petrol station to scrape a living. There was a really poignant moment where his character complimented a customer on his car: naturally he looked sad and despondent having had a similar car back in Afghanistan.

      The setting of the movie was really impressive. Apparently filming took place in northern China, rather than Afghanistan, which I found incredible. Thinking about it, of course Afghanistan was going to be too dangerous for filming, but I certainly didn't notice China masquerading as a different country. The contrast between the happy, bustling life in 1970s Kabul and the desolate dreary city under Taliban rule was marked and made a big impression on me. Kites and kite running - forbidden under the Taliban - worked well as a symbol of freedom and friendship in the film.

      Overall this is a film about friendship, bravery and freedom. At the end I did feel uplifted and happy, yet sad for all the sad things which happened during it, and which are happening in real life. I wouldn't say it's one of the best films I've ever watched, or one of my favourites, but I do recommend it and would like to read the book.

      The film is rated 12.


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        02.06.2010 13:01
        Very helpful



        An American-Afghani returns to his homeland to honour a friendship

        While I can't say that Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner is a book I would have been inclined to read, when I saw the film advertised on TV, I decided to give it a go. Whether or not it remains true to the book, I am not sure, though I have heard it does indeed do so. If this is so, then it may be a book I endeavour to mark down on my list, for the film was a wonderfully woven tale of childhood friendship and reparations for deeds done in the past.

        We join the film as an adult Amir (Khalid Abdalla), an American Afghani, is rejoicing with the publishing of his first book. A phone call from an old friend in Afghanistan provides us with the first half of the film, a flashback to when Amir was a child. Here, he is played by Zekeria Ebrahimi, and we see Amir's relationship with the son of his father's servant, Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada). They are best friends, which is not seen as normal by everyone, and following a rather harrowing event, we see the evacuation from many families following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As Amir and his father (Homayoun Ershadi) forge a new life for themselves in America, we see time pass up to the point at the start of the film. From then on, it tells of the details of the phone call and Amir's subsequent return to his homeland.

        There is not really a big element of secrecy to a lot of the plot. I haven't given anything away, although there are elements that will be somewhat uncomfortable and shocking, as well as many cultural differences that are rarely explored within film. Although this film is set in America for the greatest time period, the main part of the film takes place in Afghanistan, firstly when Amir is a boy, then as an adult upon his return. What is starkly done is the differences between the two points in time we see. The differences are huge, from the relative peace and mediocre enjoyment of life before the Soviet invasion, to the desolate and crime ridden rule of the Taliban. Cruelty is a factor in both, but again with immense differences.

        The acting is done very well, with both young and adult actors for Amir outperforming everyone else. The interaction between the two boy actors, the young Amir and Hassan, seems very real, and is for the most part a very warming friendship. The loyalty Hassan shows Amir is highly commendable, and it speaks more of friendship than of duty. This is a theme that flows through the film, and features in other relationships as well.

        The cultural element of the various Afghani characters is also something touched on quite heavily. This could range from the various traditions when they are children to the proper ways of developing a relationship as adults. I was unsure as to the various ways and means of the culture, and of the extremist views that are lightly touched on in the film, and I am by no means enlightened much further. However, it was interesting to see various scenes unfold, and at times, it added to the tension.

        Yet within all this tension is a tale of repairing atrocities in the past, and there are some absolutely lovely moments where you just can't help but smile. The title of the book features the relationship between Amir and Hassan, and relates to another tradition - that of kite flying. I am unsure whether this was a real tradition, but it entails flying kites, and cutting the strings of others with your kite. Hassan was the best kite runner when they were kids, knowing where a kite would land so he could claim it for Amir. This is an element which bonds their friendship throughout life, and is referred to all the time, whether they are together or not, and these are the moments when the film has its lighter feel to it, and an enjoyable part that makes you smile.

        The film is displayed with subtitles, as a lot of the film is spoken in Afghani. I much prefer films when this happens, as you get more of a feel for the geographical position and the culture with the language switching from this to English at times, although this latter is only when they're in America. The language and subtitles don't really put you off as such, but it does mean that you have to pay close attention otherwise you'll miss what's going on.

        I highly recommend watching this. It's not fantastic, but it's powerfully made, and the direction from Marc Foster is very well done. The use of sound and music is cleverly done, never too much but just enough to provide atmosphere. A very good effort all round, and something I'm glad I decided to watch. I'm not sure about the 12 rating, as there is a scene in the first half of the film that I'm sure I wouldn't recommend a 12 year old to be allowed to see. However, this is a minor blemish and nothing to do with the film itself. Recommended.


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        29.03.2010 08:45
        Very helpful



        Amir takes us on a journey back to his childhood in Afghanistan


        Amir is living in America where he moved to with his father several years previously from Afghanistan after the Russians invaded. He is happily married and has just received his first book which has been published but as he is celebrating he gets a phone call. The call is from an old friend back in Afghanistan called Rahim who was like a second father to Amir. He asks Amir to go back home a he needs to see and speak to him but Amir is then distracted by memories of Afghan and we go back to his childhood.

        He grew up with his Father as his Mother dies during childbirth and he is best friends with their servants son called Hassan. Hassan is also the kite runner for Amir, this is a local event which is a competition to cut down fellow competitors kites and be the last kite flying. The boys are happy spending their time reading and playing, that is until the local bullies come after them. They cannot understand why Amir is being friends with Hassan as he is from a different race which they believe is inferior but Hassan stands up to them and soon they leave but vow revenge. Later the revenge comes for Hassan who gets assaulted by the boys and Amir hides and watches what happened. After some time Amir tries to get Hassan and his Father sacked as Amir no longer wants to be friends with Hassan and they do finally leave.

        When the Russian decide to invade Amir is told they must leave as his Father is very outspoken and believes they will kill him so they set off across the border to Pakistan leaving Rahim to look after their home.

        What will their journey have in store for them before making it to America and what became of Hassan after he left and just why does Rahim need Amir to go back to Afghanistan?

        My plot summery may seen quite long but I really have only touched the surface of this film and there is so much more to see and discover. This is not a film I would normally have watched but as it was in my Sky planner I decided to give it a go despite not knowing what to expect from it. I have to say at the very beginning I was slightly put off as it is subtitles and I would say that about 85% of the film is spoken in the Afghanistan language but after I started to get into the story I forgot about the subtitles which I was reading and really started to get into the film. I would say I did not enjoy the beginning of the film despite it being well acted and filmed but the nature of the story is quite hard and upsetting at times. The storyline was excellent and really did make me think about the country in a completely different way.

        The start of the film went back to the late 1970's and the Afghan we got to see was nothing like what we see on the news today, there were market stalls and shops and the country did have a bit of money, it was only later when the Russians invaded and the Taliban started that the country seemed to crumble and it turned into the deserted and derelict place we all see and know today. I though that the scenes in Afghan out in the street were lovely and well made, the attention to detail was excellent and even when Amir went back we still got a good sense of the place despite it being so different. I think the way it came across being under Taliban control was very apparent with the addition of the men all having to have beards and look local, also the presence of patrols and guns made it look a dangerous country to be in.

        The acting from Amir was excellent, he was played by Khalid Abdalla who is an unknown actors to me. He played the older Amir very well and his emotions came across so well even when he did not say anything. The young Amir was played by Zekeria Edrahimi and he was by far the best stare of the film. He worked so well with the young Hassan who was played by Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada. The chemistry between the young boys was lovely to see and it showed that they were close by the way they seemed to natural with each other on screen. I loved how the young actors were able to put genuine emotions into their work despite having delicate and hard hitting storylines to get across.

        There were a lot of other good actors in the film including the roles of Amir's father and Rahim, they were all great character who were easy to get to know and like. There were a few which I did not like but this is what their roles were supposed to come across as so this is forgiven.

        There is a lot of heartache in this story but also some good fun times and I loved the inclusion of the kites and the kite flying competition as this showed the children of Afghanistan being free and enjoying their childhood and for me it showed that the country once did have fun and was normal before things started to go downhill and now we will never see anything like this over there.

        As this is a film only review there are no bonus features to speak of. The running time of the film is 128 minutes and the certificate is a 12A. I think the running time was good as the storyline moved at a good pace from start to finish. I would actually rate this film at a 15 myself as there are some scenes which are not suitable for the younger viewer, we don't actually see much of what is going on but it is all implied and not nice to see and imagine. The film can be bough on DVD for just a few pounds from Amazon.

        This film has been based on a book but as I have not read the book I cannot make any comparisons to how well or poor it has been translated to film.

        Overall I do recommend this film as it does have a great storyline which is hard hitting at times, the acting is excellent from all involved and it was wonderful to see this country before war took over.


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          14.02.2010 16:16
          Very helpful



          Post 911 cinema..

          "There 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".


          Afghanistan has to be the unluckiest country on the planet. Its not gifted with oil, gas or minerals, but cruelly surrounded by countries overloaded with just that, but still a shell crater from the Middle Ages, Russia and then America doing their very best to keep it that way. Its the very fact it has nothing that makes it so valuable. We wish the West were there right now to bring democracy and progress but you suspect it's just to keep it passive and broken to stop it and its Russian neighbours aspirations for that oil and gas. It has always been the unlikely prize of the region, Afghanistan the juxtaposition of supreme power to control the whole energy rich region for whoever wins that country over. Many like to randomly attack immigration to the west from places like this but if we left them alone they would be quite happy to stay in this surprisingly beautiful land.

          The Kite Runner, from the acclaimed book by the Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini, charts the recent history of this troubled country through the fictional experiences of two young boys, one a Pashto and one a Hazare, but the countries core addictions to war and heroine production over the centuries refreshingly not its narrative. Apart from that external hatchet slice from the worlds invading superpowers the country is riddled with tribal splits too, the Hazare and Pashtun the two biggest. Anyone can be loyal to anyone at any time here if the money is right, an anarchy the west has never got to grips with and never will, and it's the children, of course, and who hurt the most, but they allowing a more balanced story to be told. Although the Kite Runner veers away from the violence and female oppression in this dusty land it does emphasise that incredible pride there through all this chaos and the dignity and cultural tightness that can pull it back together again when the west finally leave this year.

          -The Cast-

          Khalid Abdalla ... Amir
          Atossa Leoni ... Soraya
          Shaun Toub ... Rahim Khan
          Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada ... Omar
          Zekeria Ebrahimi ... Young Amir
          Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada ... Young Hassan
          Homayoun Ershadi ... Baba
          Nabi Tanha ... Ali
          Elham Ehsas ... Young Assef
          Bahram Ehsas ... Wali
          Tamim Nawabi ... Kamal
          Abdul Qadir Farookh ... General Taheri

          -The Plot-

          We begin in the year of 2000, nine months before 911; author Amir Hussein (Khalid Abdalla) in his California home getting ready for another book launch. But a phone call turns his world upside down, news of his childhood friend Hussan back in Kabul meaning a trip to Pakistan is essential to sort things. He hasn't been back since he was a child. We then flashback with his thoughts from the crackly phone call to 1970s Afghanistan, a far different place back then, western backpackers and business types freely smearing sun tan cream on their bronzed bodies by the pool and modern music wafting over and blending into the more exotic smell of a traditional Kabul bazaar.

          Young Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) is Pashtun and young Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada) a Hazare, but normal Afghan boys, their love of flying kites what binds their absolute friendship, the boys soon the best in town at Kite running, a skill where you try to cut the string of the other kite by aerial combat. The boys were raised in the same home too, Hassan the son of the family servant Ali (Nabi Tanha), Amirs dad the wise and worldly Baba (Homayoun Ershadi) from Kabul's middle-class, more than happy to share his home with the Hazare. Local sadistic school bully Wali (Bahram Ehsas) and his Pashto goons are not so keen on this Pashtun-Hazare set up and beat on Hassan every time they find him.

          At home Amir loves to write and Baba is 100% behind him, but Amir, still feeling his father doesn't respect him as much as he should because mom died when Amir was born through a complex pregnancy. Hussan, like Baba, just adores Amir and his writing skills and will do anything for him. But there world is about to collapse as the Russians roll into town, Baba and Amir fleeing without Hussan, the two falling out after Hussan undergoes a terrible violation that Amir could have stopped, a cowardice and betrayal that will eat away at him for the rest of his life.

          We then flash forward to California in 1988 and learn how Baba and Amir have built their lives in America and how his love of writing seduced his future wife Soraya (Atossa Leoni). But what will that phone call be about two years from now and how will it be enough to pull him away from his book tour, the tome his life story so far, apparently a chapter or two unwritten yet for Amir as he boards a plane to Lahore and then Kabul to confront the Taliban to face his guilt and so the chance redemption.

          -The Conclusion-

          Like Slumdog Millionaire, this is yet another quality mid-budget half foreign, half Hollywood movie that's done rather well in the awards ceremonies, a formula that seems to work well for the critics, and like Babel, a healthy mix of cosmopolitan acting talent paying respect to the subject matter of the seeds of the 'War on Terror' without being too bombastic and righteous, this and the that rather bloated Babel winning Oscars for their beautiful soundtracks, here by Alberto Iglesias. The visual is strong to and goes neatly with that stunning music, even though the film was shot mostly in the Muslim Quiga region of China.

          I do like the intrinsic nature of the screenplay where the writer of the book of the film in Khaled Hosseini has effectively written a fictional autobiography here playing the Amir character, the boy growing up to write a book about his experiences in Afghanistan, enabling Hosseini to distance himself from the countries negatives to keep things romantic. I am surprised there's no real comment in the film on the way women are treated in that country, the one scene interpolated where we see the Taliban execute women at the football stadium for some mild misdemeanour not explained or explored, Islam very much a macho ball scratching religion that even men of lette3rs don't want to criticize it seems. I suppose if you look at a Muslim country through the eyes of two boys then you don't have to comment on such things.

          These films, of course, are not pitched at multiplex plebs but the much smaller thinking audience with the mission to just break-even, and so reliant on those film festivals and plaudits for positive publicity, which this deserves and got, movies subsided by the masses partition in popular popcorn cinema their handout. We have seen a few films tackling the current political situation around violent Islam but to its credit, The Kite Runner is not about the war and oppression in Afghanistan over the years so much but the people - that honour, shame and tribalism at the heart of this countries pulse. The narrative tries not to be too political and so there is room for a heartfelt and innocent story to be here to keep your interest and emotions flowing.

          As always the child actors are brilliant and the film does portray the dignity of these people as well as exploring the un-talked about racial splits, the Pashtuns nearly all of the current Taliban and the Hazare the ruling class in Kabul, the west effectively unifying the factions by being the new targets in the current conflict, not a good idea. It would not surprise me if we have paid off the Taliban to retreat just to keep the causalities down in this latest serge leading up to the election. Wouldn't it be great if we could settle this with some kite running over the roof tops of Kabul instead as the colourful kites dip, dive and flap in the wind before their serene decent to earth as the string is snapped.

          = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
          Imdb.com scores 7.8 out of 10.0 (28, 6100 votes)
          Director Mark Foster
          RuN-TiMe 128 minutes
          Any five films in the cheap section for 7 nights for £5 at Blockbusters
          = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

          = = = = = = Special Features = = = = = =

          -Audio Commentary-

          Marc Forster discusses his film

          -Deleted Scenes-

          Only three so cut the film well.


          A good hours material here of behind the scenes stuff.


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            11.01.2010 17:05
            Very helpful



            A man must return to Afghanistan in order to save an old friend's son.

            Director: Marc Forster
            Screenplay: David Benioff
            Novel: Khaled Hosseini
            Genre: Drama
            Country: USA
            Certification: 12+
            Language: English/ Dari/ Pashtu/ Urdu/ Russian

            MAIN CAST:

            Khalid Abdalla [Amir - adult]
            Zekeria Ebrahimi [Amir - child]
            Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada [Hassan - child]
            Homayoun Ershadi [Baba]
            Shaun Toub [Rahim Khan]


            Amir and Hassan are best friends regardless of their social differences - Amir is the son of a wealthy Pushtun businessman, while as Hassan, who is a Hazara minority, is a servant within Amir's home.

            The boys spend much of their time flying kites, an activity enjoyed by all the men and boys of Kabul, and taken quite seriously. The objective of the 'game' consists of cutting the opponents' kite strings [this sets the kite adrift and the opponent is forced out of the game] - the winner is the last one left flying a kite. Amir, much like his busy father, loves to fly kites, but he doesn't consider himself any good at it. Hassan, who is Amir's 'kite runner', the one who must retrieve Amir's kite when the string is 'cut', disagrees with Amir and thinks he could win the forthcoming tournament.

            During the course of that last peaceful summer in Kabul before the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and Hassan, seemingly inseparable, will have their loyalties tested.

            One day, overhearing a conversation between his father [Baba] and his father's old friend, Rahim Khan, Amir learns that his father wishes that he were more like Hassan, a fighter. Amir, who has spent his young life attempting to win his father's favour, is hurt by what he hears.

            When, at long last, Amir manages to draw his father's favour during a kite flying tournament and they become closer, a tragic incident occurs that leaves Hassan wounded [physically and psychologically], and confirms to Amir that his father was right... that he's a coward.

            In an attempt to cover-up what he has done, Amir's guilty conscience will lead him astray, and instead of making amends, he will turn against Hassan, the boy who loves him more than life itself...


            Amir [child] - raised by a demanding father who appears to be fonder of the servants than he is of his own son, Amir, somewhat timid and prone to shy away from conflicts, loves to write stories. Rahim Khan, his father's old friend, encourages him to write his stories, telling him how good they are, and Amir is grateful for Rahim's kindness towards him. The only other person Amir feels he can trust is Hassan.

            Amir {adult] - closer to his father than he used to be as a child, but they still have their differences. Amir wants to be a writer - his father wants him to be a doctor. Although their social and economical situation has changed over the years, Amir's character has not - he is still somewhat timid, and incapable of standing up for himself.

            Hassan - Amir's best friend and servant. Hassan loves Amir and follows him around like a puppy, content to live in his friend's shadow. Hassan is constantly bullied by the upper caste children, insulted and beaten, but he never cowers away from them. He is slightly smaller than Amir, but he is so much more courageous. When Hassan tells Amir that he would be prepared to die for him, he means it - his loyalties never waver, and even when Amir turns against him, Hassan's love for him remains strong.

            Baba - Amir's father, is a wealthy businessman. Baba loves his son, but he wishes that his son were more like him, a fighter. Baba, contrary to those who share his social standing, does not believe in classes. He appreciates his servants and is grateful to them for remaining loyal to him after his parents died, and he is extremely fond of Hassan. He is a good man, loving and compassionate, however, becoming a widower and a father on the same day has not been easy.

            Rahim Khan - Baba's old friend, loves Amir like a son. He is constantly defending Amir's lack of character when Baba voices his frustration, and is the one who attempts to ease the tension between father and son. He is Amir's champion, the one who encourages him to write, constantly telling Amir that he's a great storyteller. Later on in Amir's life, Rahim Khan will be the one to make Amir face his past.


            The story of a friendship weakened by jealousy, and destroyed by self-hatred, but more is it the story of a child who did something so horrible, so evil, that the consequences of his actions would haunt him the rest of his life.


            Kabul, Afghanistan [before the Soviet invasion in 1979] - Fremont, California [after they escape Afghanistan].

            COMMENTS - OPINION:

            'The Kite Runner' is a fascinating film charged with emotional conflicts, misunderstandings, and events that will cause a young boy to make a mistake that he will have to live with the rest of his life. Some mistakes should never be made... this is only one of them.

            Although the story itself is extremely interesting, it isn't the storyline that enthrals the viewer, it's the emotional tension; a father's frustration with his son, a son's feelings of inadequacy that bring out the worse in him, and the unwavering love and loyalty of a young boy unknowingly caught between the two. 'The Kite Runner' is so thick with emotion that it oozes off the screen and into the viewer's heart... to be remembered forever.

            As stated above, there are some mistakes that should never be made - Amir, like many children, is forced into a situation where he must either fight for his friend, or run away. Nothing out of the ordinary there, all children experience this type of scenario at some point in their lives... it's part of growing up. However, Amir's decision to run causes him to feel guilty, more so because his actions reinforce what his father thinks of him [Baba thinks he's a coward], and this in turns causes him to feel shame - and because Hassan's presence is a constant reminder of his shameful actions, Amir starts to hate him and does everything he can to get his father to banish Hassan from their home. Amir wrongly thinks that his guilty conscience will go away once Hassan is gone, but, obviously, his actions aggravate the situation, and his actions will have disastrous consequences that will haunt him his entire life.

            Amir's actions are like a stone thrown into the still waters of a lake... they ripple, disturbing everything in their wake.

            'The Kite Runner' is a thought-provoking film [putting it mildly], that never quite draws a smile because it is filled with racial prejudices, bullying, and the inadequacies of a boy who, regardless of his young age, you just can't help but dislike and pity simultaneously. This movie possesses a heavy atmosphere, dark and foreboding regardless of the laughter of the boys as they fly their kite, or the dreamlike quality of their lazy summer, the last one they will ever have together.

            Life can be so hard... this movie just brings it all home.

            Although 'The Kite Runner' is split into two time periods, past and present, it is the past that is the most memorable. The future, with a grown-up Amir who has yet to stand up for himself, is mostly negligible... until Amir is summoned by Rahim Khan, and is forced to return to Afghanistan to right the wrong he caused Hassan.

            The acting, needless to say, is pure perfection, totally believable, and it's no wonder that Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, who played young Hassan, won a Critic's Choice Award for his acting. Nominated for an Oscar, no doubt this movie would have won had it not been for 'Slumdog Millionaire'.


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              28.08.2009 22:32
              Very helpful
              1 Comment



              A touching film but don't watch it if you're in the mood for something light-hearted

              This is a review of the film based on the book The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini. I haven't read the book but the film is extremely well-written, the acting and directing is excellent and I found it quite an emotional experience watching it (and I don't mean that in a poncy way, it really was just very sad in parts!). What I will say it that I didn't totally enjoy the film because of the sad elements but I did appreciate it as an excellent film. This is why I've rated it 4* rather than 5*. If it wasn't for the sadness of the film I probably couldn't fault it. In some ways it reminded me of Slumdog Millionaire which some people were calling a 'feel-good' film but I also found very sad. A lot of people would probably just enjoy The Kite Runner as a very well-written and well-directed film.

              The film is just over 2 hours long and probably half of it or more is in subtitles which I sometimes find difficult to get used to at first but after a little while it's fine.

              ********** The Plot **********

              Amir and Hassan are two boys brought up in Kabul in Afghanistan. Hassan is the son of the servant who works for Amir's father, Baba. They are best of friends and play together happily but Amir is portrayed as being sometimes ashamed of being in the company of a servant boy and will not always acknowledge him in front of his other friends. Hassan, on the other hand, totally dotes on Amir and will do anything to make him happy. He is a totally loyal friend whose main aim seems to be to protect Amir who is a little cowardly himself. Amir is a quiet boy who enjoys writing and who at first does seem like quite a weak character, but we do see another side of him later in the film.

              One of Hassan and Amir's main passions is kite-flying. Not the kite-flying we see in parks, but a highly competitive sport which involves kites fighting with each other in the air to see who can remain the last standing.

              The main driver of the film happens when Hassan, alone, is cornered by a gang of bullies who try to steal Amir's kite. Hassan refuses to betray his friend by giving the bullies his kite, and he suffers extremely nasty consequences as a result.

              I do not want to give away more of the film, but the film is then basically about what happens to Amir and Hassan as they grow up, the directions they go in and where their lives end up amidst a back-drop of fighting and danger in their country.

              ********** My Verdict **********

              This was an excellent film which few could fault in terms of the directing, writing, and acting. Such attention to detail was paid to everything and it was such a subtle yet powerful film, everything was clearly extremely well thought-out. I think one piece of evidence of how good the film is, is that you totally forget that you are watching actors, you really feel like you are getting involved in the characters lives and almost seeing life through their eyes. It is quite an arty film so my description may sound a little pretentious but it is difficult to explain it any other way - it is a very touching film that really makes you think about the characters lives and the world they live in and consequently does make you happy for what you have.

              ********** Conclusion **********

              People who appreciate the quality of a well-written and directed film should love this. It is a fairly heavy film so I would not watch it if you are in the mood for something light-hearted, relaxing or mind-numbing, but if you want to watch a really good film that you may find a little sad but also touching and a film that makes you think, definitely take some time to watch this.


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                01.08.2009 19:11
                Very helpful



                A faithful adaptation of a great book

                Amir and Hassan grew up together in seventies Kabul. Despite the fact that their backgrounds are very different - Amir is the son of a wealthy man, whereas Hassan is the son of a servant and of another race - they are very close; so close that Hassan will do anything for Amir. Unfortunately, the relationship does not work so well the other way, and when Hassan is attacked and raped by some older boys one day, Amir stands by and lets it happen. Then the Soviet invasion of Kabul happens and Amir and his father escape, eventually finding their way to America. After many years, when Amir is beginning to make his name as a writer, he hears from an old family friend who tells him that Hassan is dead - but his son, Sohrab, is still in Kabul. Can Amir track the boy down before it is too late, thus repaying the debt he feels he owes his dead friend?

                This film is based on the book of the same name by Khaled Hosseini, a book that I have read an enjoyed. It was therefore with some trepidation that I watched the film - it is rare that a book to film adaptation is completely satisfying and I was worried that I would be disappointed. For once, I was wrong. There are most definitely some chunks of the story that are missing - it would be impossible to fit everything into a two hour film - but on the whole, it is a very faithful adaptation. So much so, in fact, that I felt as if the characters I was watching were old friends, something that I don't think I've ever experienced before. For once, I don't think it matters whether the book or the film come first, both are equally worth reading/watching.

                The casting was spot on as far as I'm concerned. The boys playing the young Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada) were excellent. I particularly liked the latter - his glances of adoration when he looked at Amir were spot on. However, Ebrahimi was also great as Amir, showing the jealousy that he felt for Hassan, because his father admired Hassan more than Amir. The older Amir was exactly as I imagined him. Perhaps it was the grief of his betrayal of Hassan and the dangerous journey from Kabul to the US, but his older self is much more humble, and this is well portrayed by Khalid Abdalla. The actor really comes into his own towards the end of the film when he gives a wonderfully emotive performance that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and then sobbing, even though I knew exactly what was going to happen.

                I think my favourite performance, however, was from Homayoun Ershadi, who plays Amir's father, referred to as Baba. At the beginning of the film, he is a relatively young, virile man, used to getting exactly what he wants and enjoying respect from all those around him. When he reaches America, he is forced to take a job in a petrol station and live life through his son. This process obviously isn't covered as thoroughly as in the book, but the actor makes up for that with the hunch in the shoulders, the resigned looks, and I thought he was brilliant. It really made me think about the fate of immigrants and the life they have left behind them. Much has been made of Shaun Taub, who plays a friend of Baba, perhaps because he is a more seasoned actor in the West. He is good, but his on screen time is a matter of minutes, so for me, it was Homayoun Ershadi that shone.

                I was absolutely thrilled to find out that the film wasn't actually made in Afghanistan, but in the North West of China where the population is largely Muslim - thrilled because I have been to many of the locations in question, including Kashgar. Even before I knew the filming location, I was reminded of my time travelling in Xinjiang - everywhere seems very dry, dirty and sandy with hotch potch buildings (except for Amir's home). It was exactly as I had imagined it from the book and I think that the director and everyone else involved did a superb job of finding the best possible location, considering filming in Afghanistan presumably wasn't an option. Some of the shots of the escape from Afghanistan and Amir's later return via Pakistan are really stunning - wide open spaces with mountains in the background.

                The kite plays an important part in the film, as it does in the book. Kite flying was banned by the Taliban, so it represents a freer time, when the boys were young and able to play more or less as they wished. It also represents the freedom of the US, where Amir is able to fly a kite once more. From a visual point of view, it provides a very attractive symbol and, during the early days in Afghanistan at least, is a veritable splash of colour against an otherwise dull background.

                This isn't really a happy film, and it can be downright disturbing at times. The rape scene itself, when Hassan is attacked by an older boy, is downplayed, but the shots of him staggering away afterwards trailing droplets of blood is upsetting. Then the older Amir is viciously attacked by a Taliban official on his return to Afghanistan - this is incredibly violent and left a big impression on me (and this is coming from someone who watches horror films for fun). There is an overall atmosphere of menace when Amir returns to Afghanistan and it is quite disturbing, so it is definitely not a film for those wanting something light-hearted. Yet the classification is only 12A. However, I really cannot imagine many young people under 15 really wanting to watch it - it is something that I think will be best appreciated by those a little older with a wider understanding of the world. I should add here that there has been some controversy about the depiction of the Taliban in this film, with some claiming that they have been deliberately portrayed as violent and without morals - I simply don't know enough about the situation to comment either way.

                Much of the film is subtitled because the main characters are speaking in Dari (a dialect of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan). I didn't feel that it hindered the film in any way; the subtitles were always clear, although of course, I have no idea how accurate they were. It does mean, however, that a certain amount of concentration is needed to follow it, so it's definitely not a film for watching on a Friday night after a few glasses of wine. The music, by Alberto Iglesias, fits the film well - the ominous musical background to Amir's return to Afghanistan is extremely well suited, sounding both ethnic and contemporary, yet traditional at the same time. Iglesias is best known for his scores for Pedro Almodovar's films, but has also written scores for The Constant Gardener and Che. (Facts taken from Wikipedia).

                There are a few special features with the DVD. Director Marc Foster, David Benioff, who wrote the screenplay and author Khaled Hosseini give an audio commentary, which I haven't listened to yet, but will do at some point. Then there is a feature entitled 'words from The Kite Runner', which is basically a series of scenes from the movie explained by Khaled Hosseini and Marc Foster. That is followed by a featurette on the visuals, including some shots of filming in Kashgar, which I really enjoyed. It also includes an insight into casting and why particular actors were chosen. Finally, there's a 'public service announcement' by Khaled Hosseini, who gives an introduction to the situation in Afghanistan and asks for donations to be made, and a trailer for the film. All in all, worth watching, especially the second featurette on the visuals.

                I thought this film was excellent - it was all I had hoped for and more. Marc Foster has taken a great story and made it into a visually beautiful film that shocks and disturbs, but ultimately has a very real point to it - don't dwell on your wrongs, go out and redeem yourself. I think this is a film worth seeing, whether you have read the book or not. Just appreciate that it is not a barrel of laughs and if you want cheering up, this may not be the film for you. Highly recommended.

                The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.

                Classification: 12A

                Running time: 128 minutes


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                  28.05.2009 18:28
                  Very helpful



                  Touching and beautifully filmed.

                  The Kite Runner, based on the book of the same name by Khaled Hosseini, is a powerful tale of friendship, guilt and redemption spanning continents from kabul to the United States.

                  The story concerns two boys growing up in Afghanistan, Amir the son of a wealthy and well-regarded man and his friend Hassan, son of the family servant and a Hazara (a somewhat repressed and less regarded acial group in Afghanistan). It becomes clear that with all his priviliges Amir sometimes is ashamed of Hassan and is also a coward when Hassan is almost universally virtuous, loyal and caring. The critical point comes when Amir fails to even try to intervene when Hassan is raped by an older boy.

                  The second part of the story is with Amir as an adult in the United States where he and his father fled to after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The film initially opens on Amir as an adult recieving a phonecall and saying he has to go to Pakistan asked by an old family friend. He is told that Hassan got married and had a son but the boy is orphaned, his parents killed by the Taliban who now run the country. Amir then decides to return to Afghanistan and bring the boy home with him.

                  Amir's act in finding Hassan's son frees him from the guilt that has weighed since he failed to stand up for Hassan. The end with Amir running a kite for Hassan is a touching and beautiful moment.

                  Like any film based on a popular book the film sometimes suffers from comparison criticism. It is true that the film lacks the detail of the book and cuts out a couple of the scenes towards the end, however, a film can never entirely replicate a book and I believe it does well in capturing the spirit of the novel and the evocative of the Afghan life and landscape.

                  The cinematography of the Kite Runner should also be applauded as it shows us open and stunning Afghan landscapes as well as the colour, noise and emotions of the streets the two children grow up on and the kite-flying competitions. Moreover, the beauty of the shots early in the film provide a contrast for the later Taliban controlled Afghanistan-reinforcing a point that Amir's character makes when he says he hardly recognises his own country.


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                    27.05.2009 11:00
                    Very helpful
                    1 Comment



                    A man has to return from the US to his childhood home of Afghanistan where he discovers a secret

                    - Credits -


                    - Story -

                    Amir grew up in Afghanistan in the 1970s where he's friends with a boy called Hassan and the two of them take part in kite competitions. After an incident, Amir distances himself from Hassan and conflicts in the country end up leading to him and his father having to escape. Fast forward to the year 2000 when he's living in America, where he's been for some years and he gets a phone call from an old friend telling him that he has to go back to Afghanistan, where he learns about his old friend Hassan, as well as something else that takes him by surprise.

                    - Thoughts & Opinions -

                    The story, though somewhat slow at first, is quite endearing I think and I found it interesting to see Amir growing up in such a foreign culture, seeing things through the eyes of children was quite interesting.

                    There are some quite pretty scenes during the kite competition near the start of the movie, scenes showing the Afghan ladscape, all the flat, plain rooftops. Of course its not all jolly and nice though, there are at least a couple of disturbing scenes and the story keeps you guessing what happens to the family.

                    I guess you could say its a story about borders, some self inflicted or by those around you as well as friendship and family, about dealing with the background or culture you come from and whats expected as a result of that.

                    It feels like an optimistic movie at times and less so at other times but I did find it intriguing enough to watch through to the end and there is a plot twist that makes it more interesting.

                    The movie offers an insight into what its like having a middle eastern background and growing up with such conflict, which is something I didn't know a great deal about, I can't vouch for the authenticity of the movie precisely but it certainly seemed pretty realistic and not too glamourised or 'Hollywood' at all.

                    It is quite a long movie and it is at times quite sad and may make you wince but I felt it was compelling and its generally a well made movie. However, you'll want to be aware of the fact there are alot of subtitles, given that its mainly set in Afghanistan, about 80-90% of the movie is subtitled really, which will put some off but I was able to follow them fine and it didn't put me off the movie as such. Hence it is a movie that you have to concentrate on to follow or keep up with but thats as it should be, I feel, if you know what I mean.

                    - Would I Recommend It? -

                    Yes I would recommend this movie. Its quite compelling and although it is slow to start with and it has alot of subtitles to follow, as a movie I felt it seemed quite well made with some nice cinematography at the start and an intriguing story, the performances also didn't let the movie down either, so I'd say its worth watching and sticking with through to the end, you may well be pleasantly surprised by this if you give it a chance, as its not the sort of movie that I would have automatically rushed to see but given that I happened to hear good things of the book and the movie, I decided to give it a go and im glad I did.

                    Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for any and all r/r/c's. This review is also posted on Ciao UK under the same name, IzzyS.


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                      20.05.2009 15:13
                      Very helpful



                      Emotions run high, almost too high but this atmospheric, moving film is definitely worth it

                      A rich kid and a poor kid have a strong bond. They are literally inseparable and even though the difference in their class is evident, this does not deter them from caring about one another immensely. But soon, war breaks out, and the two part ways, not on very good terms. Years later, the rich kid is in the United States, dreaming to become a writer but an unexpected guest arrives and this compels him to make amends with his long-lost best friend. One of the best aspects about this is just how perfect the children's performances are. Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada look like they have been acting for years and come off so much better than some of the adults' acting. Their inspiring performances have so much dramatical impact on a moving, but slightly uneven script. The plot verges on being overly melodramatic and unconvincing but mostly the film remains engaging enough not to be too bothered by it. The scenes involving the colourful kites tugging at each other are brilliantly filmed, providing some fun in the midst of all the mostly depressing events. Anyone in search of a bunch of tear-jerking emotions can be absolutely satisfied.


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                      22.03.2009 20:10
                      Very helpful



                      Great, educational, moving film, well worth checking out.

                      The Kite Runner is a film directed by Marc Foster, based on a novel by Khaled Hosseini. Released in 2007 it was nominated for both an Academy Award and two Golden Globes. In my opinion it is a travesty that this film did not end up winning anything, it is fascinating, beautiful and a wonderful story.


                      The film is set for the most part in Kabul, Afghanistan with some integrated scenes of the present day in America. The drama centres on a young Amir, son of a well to do and well known anti-communist, Baba, and best friends with Hassan, the son of the family servent Ali. The pair are a kite flying team and regularly compete against the other local kids despite the fact that some people have a clear issue with the fact that Hassan is from the Hazara race of Afghans, at odds with Amir and his family.

                      Despite the differences in background the two seem inseperable until a set of events, triggered by a run in with the local bullies, which changes everything for them both. Ali and Hassan subsequently leave the family and move on, shortly afterwards the Russian invasion begins and as an anti-communist Baba has no choice but to flee to safety with Amir across the border into Pakistan and ultimately to America.

                      Once in America the focus swings to the Afghan immigrant population and how they continue to uphold their culture and beliefs in such a different environment. After his father's death there is a further twist in the tale and Amir, now a confident young Afghan-American man, has to revisit his past, his fears and his old haunts to resolve issues he thought he would never have to deal with again.

                      My Views

                      The way this film depicts the lively, upbeat Kabul of the 70s is so interesting to see. Amazingly, this city used to be a destination on the hippy trail and you can see why. Having grown up with only very negative images of war battered, rubble strewn Afghan cities and towns it was an absolute eye opener to view it as a relatively liberal and happy place to live. The scenes with the kite flying competitions are surprisingly enjoyable to watch, it really made me want to grab a kite and run to the nearest hill.

                      I feel I learned an entirely different side to Afghan culture and beliefs through this film and it makes me very sad to think what has now become of this once great city.

                      The actors were all very strong although most will be unknown to western audiences, Khalid Abdalla who plays the adult Amir may be recognized from his role in United 93 as leader of one of the groups of hijackers. In this film he is believable, strong and has an impressive ability to switch effortlessly between Arabic and English even when mid-sentance.

                      The child actors were also impressive despite some scenes which must have been difficult and disturbing to film. There was much media coverage surrounding how cultural misunderstandings sprang up around the child actors in this film and one of the two, Zakeria Ebrahimi who plays the young Hassan has relocated to the UAE as a result for his own alleged safety. I will not go into further detail here as I do not wish to spoil the film for others, but in light of watching it I am saddened at the irony of this situation.

                      The story is wonderfully told and really draws you in as a viewer. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the sadness of some of the events and the fact that it really does show the more current control of the Taliban in a disturbingly chilling way. It is a difficult watch at times, but in my opinion it provides the viewer with a better rounded picture of Afghanistan as a country, before it simply became somwhere our soldiers go to fight the Taliban and where far too many die.

                      Put your politics to one side and indulge in this story, it really is worth of two hours of your life and it may change the way you feel about the inhabitants of a country which has been desecrated by war.

                      Run time: 128 mins


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                        22.03.2009 20:06
                        Very helpful



                        A great watch. One to own!!

                        The Kite Runner (2007) is a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Khaled Hossein (A Thousand Splendid Suns - one of my favourite books). Directed by Marc Forster (Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland), like A Thousand Splendid Suns this is a real eye opener and a film that really gets you thinking.

                        The dialogue in Persian (Hossein's first language - himself and American citizen born is Afganistan) with English subtitles is an intense watch. Set in Kabul, Afganistan and in part San Francisco it follows the life of Amir from childhood through to adulthood.

                        More than one boys life though it charts the history and development of Afganistan from the early 70's to mid 80's and the rise of the Taliban. With Amir a boy living initially in the well-to-do part of Kabul, the city looks just like any other developing city. It has shops, roads, modern amenities and functions like any city should. It looks the kind of place ripe for exploration and tourism. During the 70's Afganistan was itself a major hub on the "Hippy Trail" through Turkey, Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan and India. Not something it is likely to be again in my lifetime!

                        The film in part at this early stage touches on the underlying tribal tensions of the country however as a boy Amir lived a good life in Kabul and lived like any child would. He develops a love of kite flying which he as his friend Hassan (the families servants son) enjoy together.

                        As the boys age Afganistan begins to change. On one hand the Islamic extremists and on the other the Communists via for control of the country.. This tension that shaped Afganistan also shapes the life's of Amir and his family. As the Russians arrive to put their mighty weight behind Communism the city of Kabul begins its decline. The symbolic fig tree that the boys often played by destroyed.

                        As Amir grows he has to return to his homeland and we see how after the Russians failed advances the Taliban regime grows and develops. The scenes of Taliban control are at times disturbing and difficult to watch. In one part and execution by stoning. This film though shows the true ground conditions of Afganistan. It is not violence for violence sake but to me gave me an education as to why intervention was required in Afganistan. That said it is so typical of Western Governments that rather than intervention for the sake of Human Rights it was intervention to attack terrorism that sparked the modern conflict. This film certainly opened my eyes to a country that we see on the news daily but know so little about.

                        The film really makes you think. Whilst perhaps we bemoan the number of immigrants to our shores we should think ourselves lucky that we were to be born here. If our country were to see the same upheaval and destruction would we not expect somewhere better to go? This film in showing Afganistan before its troubles show that its people are not all hell bent of terrorism and anti-western. They have been shaped by their environment and outside intervention.

                        In one scene in the film we see the extent of anti-Russian feeling by Afganistani's who objected to Russia's intervention in their country. This feeling today overtaken by anti American and Western feeling over our intervention.

                        I liked this film because it has such an amazing story. However this story at times is too perfect and predictable. Everything seems to fit too neatly together. For example Amir's tormentor as a child turns out later in the film, after so much water has past under the bridge, to be his tormentor again. To easy and obvious for me. The ending of the film too for me to clichéd and neat. Like so many films heavy on sentimentality in goes on maybe fives minutes to long to really labour the point.

                        That said having watched this film as a rental I did next day buy it on Amazon. It is a really interesting and absorbing watch despite its failings. It is nice to have something to watch that paints Afganistan in a different light and gives some context to more recent movies like 'In this World'.


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                          24.01.2009 11:13
                          Very helpful
                          1 Comment



                          Good film

                          The Kite Runner is adapted from the book bearing the same title and it is an enjoyable and emotion stimulating film that is ell worth watching. Impart it focuses on the act of kite flying which in Afghanistan comes to symbolise freedom, a freedom that is denied through successive invasions and oppression by foreign invaders and then the religious zeal of the Taliban

                          The story is told through a flash back sequence and focuses on the lives of two young boys in Afghanistan in the late seventies, Amir and Hassan are kite flyers who use their kites to attack other kites and bring them down, a sort of aerial dueling which requires control and skill, Amir parents wealthy while Hassan is the son of her servant however the boys are close friends and play together in the streets all of the time. Both boys have to deal with bullies however Hassan is the only one of the two who stands up against them and this bullying does take on a rather nasty side and is quite graphic and upsetting which means the film is not suitable for children.

                          Following the invasion Amir and his father flee to America and begin a new life however the events that Amir witnessed haunt him as he did not protect his friend until certain events see an adult Amir being drawn back to his home country.

                          This is a very moving film that contains some strong performances, in particular the one from Amir father and is wonderfully filmed, it certainly does a good job of capturing the feel of the book which is an excellent read.

                          The only real downside to the film is that it does get a little slow in the middle sections and tends to drift a bit however it is worth sticking with as the overall result is an engaging and appealing one.


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                            04.01.2009 19:16
                            Very helpful
                            1 Comment



                            an important book and a further important film

                            Who will like this film:
                            Those interested in the lives of those living in Afganistan and the effect that Taliban control had over the country.

                            Marc Forester, also director of Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland and Quantum of Solace.

                            This film was based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini, who also wrote, A Thousand Splendid Suns.


                            12 due to in containing strong thematic material including the rape of a child, violence and brief strong language. I personally think that this is a low rating and wouldn't show this film to a child, but that depends on your take on the film.

                            This is a relativly unknown cast, as the director wanted the actors to portray an authentic representation on the story and therefore are all residents from or around Afganistan itself.

                            Plot Summary:
                            Set in the 1970's onwards this film begins with a friendship between two boys of different ethnic background, within Afganistan. The Pushtun boy Amir lives a wealthly life and his Hazara Friend, Hassan is the son of Amir's fathers servant. Their friendship is tested when Amir witnesses how far Hassan loyalty towards him goes. When the Russians invade Afganistan Amir and his father flee Afganistan and set up home in America where Amir becomes an acomplished writer, but when news alerts him to troubles in his homeland, it is his duty to try and help.

                            Best Bits:
                            The ongoing theme of Kite flying and kite competition breaks up this movie with a light-hearted message.

                            Shabnam Zahir produces a wonderful soundtrack to suit this film, using traditional Afganistan music with other cultural influences.

                            Hassan: For you a thousand times over!

                            This is a touching film that will stay with you for a very long time. It also shows a different side to the Afganistan we hear of on the news today. I liked the fact that i didnt know any of the actors, as it made the story very beleivable and more poigniant.

                            The film Charlie Wilson's war may be a good film to watch in relation to this film as it shows American intervention during this time in Afganistan.


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                              05.12.2008 13:58
                              Very helpful



                              A comforting film about self improvement.

                              It's probably safe to say you've never seen kite-flying scenes like the ones that form the emotional and metaphorical core of The Kite Runner. The film, based on the best selling book by Khaled Hosseini, is partly set in Afghanistan in the 1970's, and the simple act of flying a kite comes to represent a freedom of spirit that is lost when the nation is invaded by the Soviets in 1979, and then remians lost when the nation is dominated by the extremist form of Islam that characterised the Taliban.

                              But the two boys at the heart of the story do not merely fly kites, they "cut" them - by chasing other kites through the air and curling around their strings until they snap. Kite flying thus becomes a form of competition - and with the help of modern special effects, the film sometimes uses aerial shots to show how the airbourne kites pursue one another, like fighter planes hot on each other's tails.

                              These sequences are impressive, but their very impressiveness threatens to take you out of the movie. The aerial shots might be necessary, in some sense, since those who have never played these sort of games would probably not know what to look for if the kites were shown from the distant earthbound perspective of the boys themselves, but even so, given how naturalistic the rest of the film tends to be, the artificiality of the kite sequences, does, unfortunately call attention to itself.

                              And so it goes for the film as a whole. You can respect the efforts by screenwriter David Benioff (25th Hour) and director Marc Forster (Stranger than Fiction) to honour Hosseini's novel and tell a moving story about real people who just happen to be Muslims or Middle Easterners. And when you consider that the last time Benioff and Forster collaborated on a film, the result was the mind-numbingly contrived and far too clever for its own good Stay, you can definitely respect that The Kite Runner relies on a cleaner, more straightforward kind of storytelling. Their intentions are clear, and they are good. It's just the execution that doesn't always work.

                              The only narrative gimmick this time is a conventional flashback structure. The film begins in San Fransisco in 2000, as Amir (Khalid Abdalla, who played an intriguingly humanised terrorist in United 93) and his wife Soraya (Atossa Leoni) await the arrival of his first novel. No sooner has the book arrived, than Amir gets a call from an old family friend - a call that sends the movie back in time over 20 years.

                              The time is 1978, and the place is Kabul. The young Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and his friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) are enjoying themselves as boys in many parts of the world generally do - flying kites, running through the streets, and chatting excitedly about their favourite Westerns and Steve McQueeen movies. Amir is the son of an affluent widower named Baba (A Tast of Cherry's Homayoun Ershadi), and Hassan is the son of their servant Ali (Nabi Tanha). And while the two boys get along like brothers, there is still a hint of the class division between them, as Hassan expresses unfailing loyalty to Amir, and Amir promises not to abuse that trust.

                              Hassan is loyal, in fact, that he defends Amir from the taunts of their playmates even when Amir will not defend himself, and Amir's seeming weakness becomes a matter of concern fo his father who declares, "A boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who won't stand up for anything." Because Hassan and his father are Shi'ite and Hazara, whereas most of their neighbours are Sunni and Pashtun, Hassan himself is also taunted by the local bullies - who ultimately rape him for his loyalty to Amir, in a scene that understandably generated some controversy even though it is very discreet, relying on little more than impressionistic close-ups of loosened belts and the like to give the viewer a sense of what is happening.

                              Amir witnesses the rape, but from a distance - no one knows he was watching - and he never summons the courage to intervene. But the incident taints his friendship with Hassan, and ultimately impacts the relationship between their fathers, as well. And then the Soviets invade, so Baba and his son escape to the United States, leaving behind their lifestyle and most of their friends, at least for now.

                              If the early part of the film, in which an inspiring writer is haunted by questions of his own culpability after witnessing the rape of a childhood friend, is faintly reminiscent of Atonement, then the next section is more like The Namesake, as Amir and his father adjust to life in America while still following some of the traditions that they brought with them from their homeland. Amir grows up, graduates, and falls in love with Soraya, the daughter of an old-fashioned and somewhat bigoted general (Quadir Farookh) - and their courtship, aided by Baba, is one of the movie's more delicate and charming episodes.

                              Eventually we come back to that phone call in San Fransisco, and by the time we do, a handful of story threads have been tied up fairly nicely. So you almost expect the movie to come to an end in the next few minutes. But instead, the phone call triggers an entirely new storyline in which Amir goes to Pakistan to visit his father's friend Rahim Kahn (The Nativity Story's Shaun Toub), and Rahim reveals one or two things to Amir prompt him to return to Afghanistan itself, a land now dead and lifeless compared to the thriving culture we saw there before.

                              My thoughts

                              There is a compelling movie in this somewhere, but the film lacks a certain momentum. The episodic nature of the story, compounded by the awkward use of the flashback device and the overall blandness of the direction, the photography and even some of the performances, all tend to leave the viewer relatively unmoved. And that's a problem, given how badly we need stories like this, stories that describe the Middle Eastern experience from a point of view that puts Muslims front-and-centre and keeps Westerners more or less to the side.

                              However, the film does have its merits and the more I think about it, the more I admire its portrayal of Baba. Amir's father has wealth, at first, but more importantly, he has principles and he is not afraid to risk his life to defend a complete stranger. And while he seems a little stern in the early scenes, when Amir is just a boy, he becomes a truly proud and loving father as Amir grows to manhood. While he has moral lapses, he is an inspiring fugure, and it is not hard to see where the adult Amir gets his strength and courage as he confronts the bullies in Afghanistan once more. The world - not just that part of the world dominated by Islamic extremists, but the world as a whole - needs more men like Baba. So do the movies.


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