Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Kite Runner

I read Khaled Hosseini's beautiful novel several years ago and was touched by the story of friendship, betrayal and redemption. The movie retains most of the book's beauty--although some of the depth and resonance of the novel is lost as it is compressed into a two hour movie. Still, there is much to recommend in the script adaptation by David Benioff, directed by Marc Forster.

First off, the cast of mostly unknown actors (to U.S. audiences, anyway...), do a terrific job. But I was particularly mesmerized by Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, who plays the young Hassan--good-natured, sweet tempered and doggedly loyal friend of Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi). The big controversy that forced the young actor playing Hassan to flee Afghanistan is a rape scene that is crucial to the story and a pivotal plot point. Forster handles it so delicately in the shooting and editing of the scene, it's difficult to imagine such negative repercussions-- but I guess that's me as an American living in the United States and not living in Afghanistan.

In fact, China stands in for Afghanistan in the movie as it was too dangerous to shoot on location in the war-torn country. The Kite Runner was a good follow up to Charlie Wilson's War as the stories of the plight of the Afghanis overlap. The Kite Runner depicts the aftermath of the defeat of the Soviets--the Taliban. It is heart-wrenching to follow along on Amir's return to his homeland to witness the devastation wrought first by the Communists, followed by the Taliban. But the kite flying scenes are depicted so exquisitely--lifting spirits as they symbolize hope and freedom.

"I dream that my son will grow up to be a good person, a free person. I dream that someday you will return to revisit the land of our childhood. I dream that flowers will bloom in the streets again... and kites will fly in the skies!"

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