Every year, the holidays herald the release of emotionally-taxing movies, and this year is no exception. Although ‘The Kite Runner’ has not yet been released to the public, a group of about 150 students who signed up through the Anteater Book Club watched the prescreening last Tuesday, Nov 20.
The best-selling fiction novel by Khaled Hosseini was successfully transformed into an equally enthralling film. Through the experiences of Amir, Hosseini’s narrator, the movie depicts the situation in Afghanistan from 1975 until the takeover by the Taliban.
While the movie retains the universal themes of familial relationships, guilt and loyalty, the setting in Kabul, Afghanistan makes for a shocking representation of a world that most audiences have never witnessed before. Although the movie is sprinkled with humor and warmth, it is an intense depiction of a tragic story.
The movie’s Middle Eastern soundtrack sets the mood as audiences are introduced to an adult Amir living in San Francisco but then dropped back in time to witness his experiences growing up in an upper class family in Kabul.
The story revolves around 12-year-old Amir’s relationship with Hassan, the son of his father’s servant who is the best kite runner in town.
Symbolic of Amir and Hassan’s innocence, the kite battles that consume the young boys’ time are short-lived as reality interrupts. Amir’s character is built around a heart-wrenching scene where he silently witnesses Hassan being brutalized by older boys of the dominant Pashtun class, the same day that Amir is victorious in the town kite wars. The incident destroys Amir and Hassan’s relationship as Amir isolates himself and spends the rest of his life consumed with guilt.
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Amir and his father, whose open affection he longs for, are able to escape to Pakistan and then move to San Francisco. The once-privileged father and son spend their lives working at a gas station and selling odds and ends at the weekend swamp meets where they interact with other formerly honorable Afghans. Busy with his ‘storytelling,’ Amir suppresses his haunting memories from Kabul and settles into his life in San Francisco as a writer.
However, after the death of his father and a call from his father’s ailing best friend, Rahim Khan, Amir is compelled to return to his homeland and face his past. From this point forward nothing but the harsh reality of life in war-torn Afghanistan is revealed.
Amir is dealt with quite a few blows as he discovers just how deep his relationship with Hassan was, and he sets out on a journey to rescue and adopt Hassan’s son who is stuck in an orphanage.
An old man selling his wooden leg for money to buy his children food, the wretched orphanage and the scene of a young boy being forced into prostitution, all bring to bare the devastation of the once-lively streets filled with children flying their colorful kites.
Although Amir’s survival of his adventure into the heart of corruption (where he encounters the same man who abused Hassan as a child) seemed rather melodramatic, it was overshadowed by the honest emotions portrayed in the actors’ faces as Amir and Sohrab, Hassan’s son, were greeted at the airport in San Francisco by Soraya, Amir’s wife.
The casting and the acting are both brilliant. Both the professional and non-professional actors give stunning performances that add to the vivid portrayal and keep the audience engaged in spite of the majority of the movie being in Farsi. However, what ultimately makes the movie is that it focuses primarily on universally-appealing human emotions, rather than just dwelling on the politics of a distant world that most audiences cannot comprehend.
The movie is set to release on Dec. 26.