DVD Review: The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner
Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Khaled Hosseini
Starring Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, Khalid Abdalla, Atoosa Leoni, Shaun Toub, Homayoun Ershadi
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release date: March 25, 2008

“There is a way to be good again.”

The Kite Runner is a story about friendship, betrayal, hope, and atonement. Beginning in the 1970s and ending in the 2000s, we witness the relationship of two childhood friends, and the impact the Soviet Invasion and the Taliban regimes have on their relationship through the years in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Young Amir and Hassan (Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) are as socially different as two people could be. Amir is wealthy and has all of the vestiges of wealth, whereas Hassan is a servant and is a member of the Hazara. Beginning in 1978, the two children are inseparable and spend their time playing and flying kites. Amir flies, and Hassan runs the kite (kite running is fetching a kite when an opponent cuts the spool string to the kite midair with their own kite). However, their social differences are not the difficulties in their friendship which ultimately hinder their bond. The care that Amir’s father, Baba (Homayou Ershadi), shows toward Hassan makes Amir jealous. In Amir’s child mind he believes that Baba cares for him less and exalts the bravery and devotion of Hassan in contrast to the cowardice and weakliness of his son. Of course this is not true, but, in this instance, Amir’s truth outweighs the love and loyalty Hassan has for him — he is the overlooked. This jealousy plays a role in a tragic occasion which forever changes the relationship between the two boys.

Baba and Amir are forced to relocate to San Francisco in the 1980s due to the Soviet invasion. They are no longer privileged and elite, but are a part of the lower working class and they strive to keep themselves afloat. Amir earns a community college degree in this period and they both have no correspondence with Afghanistan. Even though they are in a new land, they find kinship with other Afghani families in America that have also fled their homeland. Amir meets a young woman named Soraya (Atoosa Leoni) and falls in love. They wed with the permission of her family, albeit grudgingly given, and begin their new life together. Tragically the small family that they have created is shocked with tragic news. Baba is passing away with lung cancer and Soraya cannot bear children.

The 1990s mark a transitional period for Amir. He is called back to Afghanistan by Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub) to correct a wrong that has been done to his family. When Rahim tells Amir that Hassan and his wife have been killed leaving their son Sohrab (Ali Danish Bakhty Ari) orphaned and a family secret that involves Hassan and Baba, Amir packs his bag and makes the dangerous journey back home. He quickly learns that the mission he has undertaken to rescue Sohrab will be neither easy nor safe. Amir remarks “I feel like a tourist in my own country” when he notes that the Afghanistan he grew up in and loved has drastically changed. The air no longer smells of lamb kebobs but burnt rubber, children no longer play but dead corpses litter the street, and people no longer speak to one another but are forced to wear beards and not make any eye contact. The Taliban regime has thrown out the Soviets, but the new regime is just as detrimental as the old.

The movie ends in the 2000s back in San Francisco with Amir’s family. Sohrab will be raised with Amir and Soraya as a cherished nephew and the journey of Amir and Hassan can come to an end. Amir has finally corrected walking out on Hassan when he most needed him so many years ago and has found the strength to love and give as much as Hassan did for and to him. When Amir teaches Hassan’s son how to fly a kite and tells him he will run his kite and says “For you, a thousand times over” he ultimately understands the words of his devoted friend and promises his devotion to another.

The Kite Runner is a beautiful book and a beautiful movie. Right now it is hard for Americans to detach themselves enough to realize the beauty in a country which houses so many members of a regime that aims to destruct tenets of our society. However, this movie teaches us that we all should try to see the beauty in people and a country that is made up of many individuals with many beautiful stories. We all have a bit of Amir in us — we run from conflicts that we should stand up against and we start fights that we do not have a right to. The Kite Runner teaches us that the bit of Hassan we have in all of us should be projected in everything we do. We should show the people we care about we value them every day. We should be a true friend regardless of the cost and we should strive to treat others how we would like to be treated because in the end, we are all equal and will get exactly what we should.

DVD Bonus Features

Commentary with Marc Forster, Khaled Hosseini, and David Benioff

In this featurette the director, author, and screenplay writer talk about how the movie came into fruition.

Words from The Kite Runner

The director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction, and now the latest James Bond movie Quantum of Solace) learned about the book The Kite Runner from a friend and read it during the blackout that crippled New York City in 2003. After finishing the book, he knew that it should be a movie and he wanted to work on it. Author Khaled Hosseini wrote his entire life, but became a writer by accident (as he was a practicing physician). Hosseini discusses his process of broadening his short story into the book The Kite Runner in 15 months and how he wanted to create an endearing tale that portrays the struggle of two children and a once beautiful, but now ravaged country.

Images form The Kite Runner

Marc Forster aims to portray the main tenets of the movie which is passion, joy, sorrow, and pain. He connected with the humanity of the story and depicted it (as discussed by the screenwriter and producers). On a different note, this featurette is a bit confusing to me because this is supposed to comment on the images in the movie. However, the director and producers discuss the use of Farsi versus English, the location casting, and the casting of Young Amir and Hassan. Another interesting thing I found out in this snippet, even though it has nothing to do with images, is Khalid Abdalla was a controversial lead for this movie because he is Egyptian and not Afghani. He had to learn to speak Farsi to play Amir.

Public Service Announcement with Khaled Hosseini

In this feature the author Khaled Hosseini delivers a PSA requesting people to consider supporting NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that collect charitable donations.

Theatrical Trailers

Very moving, and unlike most movie trailers, this accurately portrays the film and its beauty. Everything the trailer presents, the movie delivers.


1 Comment »

  1. This was a very good movie. Excellent review.

    Comment by Jerry — April 3, 2008 @ 8:17 am

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