>Movie Review: The Kite Runner

>My wife and I watched The Kite Runner the other night, the last DVD in a multi-movie and Guitar Hero ’80s weekend. We didn’t begin watching until late, around midnight. My hopes on staying awake throughout the length of the movie were pretty low. Once the movie began, however, we were riveted throughout the entire 2-hr length.

Amir and Hassan are friends; two young boys growing up in the same house in the time prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Flying kites is their one of the their major enjoyments together. Amir flies the kites, taking Hassan’s advice. When Amir cuts the line of a competing kite, Hassan becomes the Kite Runner, having an innate gift to track the defeated kite as it descends toward the winding streets and alleyways of Kabul, Afghanistan. Amir is also a noted storyteller for his age, able to craft words and passages that entertain children and adults alike. His father does not think much of this ability, prefering Hassan’s ruggedness and masculinity, noting that Hassan tends to defend Amir in fights, although Hassan is quite smaller than Amir.

Amir and Hassan seem inseparable as friends, though one thing does separate them: race. Amir is Pashtun, the preferred people of Afghanistan. Amir’s father is very wealthy, driving a replica of Steve McQueen’s Mustang around the streets of Kabul. Hassan is a second-class citizen, barely tolerable by most Pashtuns, as he is Hazara. The story takes a violent turn as a result of this racial divide, and the friendship between the two boys is never the same. Soon after, the Soviets invade and occupy Afghanistan, forcing Amir and his father to flee, leaving Hassan and his father behind.

Leap forward to 2000, and Amir is living in Fremont, California, still intractably tied to the Afghani-Pashtun culture. A phone call one night forces him to revisit the ghosts of his past, and he embarks on a journey back into the heart of his homeland, no longer ruled by the Soviets, but by the Taliban.

I flew kites as a kid. My dad put together a World-War I byplane kite, which we flew once. We crashed it, breaking it, but not seriously. It then hung from my bedroom ceiling for years. Kites take on a whole new meaning in this movie and prove to be an calming counter-point to the serious themes permeating the movie.

Events in the movie take place in Fremont, California, the portions that are set in Kabul, Afghanistan were shot in Kashgar, Tashgarkan, and in the Pamir Mountains – all of which are in western China.

The Taliban are also portrayed, accurately, at least superficially so. From the street hangings, the bearded gunmen, women wearing the chadri, the full-length blue burqa, to the atrocities committed at Ghazni (Ghazi) Stadium.

Inspired as it is from true events, Kite Runner is a work of fiction. We can achieve some insight into culture, wealth, trust, and honor, through this story: the wealthy and elite in Afghanistan, moderate Islam versus radical Islam, racism, and the radical rule of the Taliban.

Rent it; it might be one of the best 2hrs you have spent in front of your television in a long time.

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