(For SI Blog reader Kreacher)
A riveting and ultimately moving tale of two young boys in Kabul set against the depressing backdrop of political violence and the frayed social fabric of Afghanistan, Kite Runner is a film of stunning beauty.
And of horrific cruelty in its stark depiction of life in the war-torn land.
Kite Runner (2007) is likely the best film we’ve seen this year.
We can’t think of any other movie that has given us so much joy lately.
German-Swiss filmmaker Marc Forster (also the director of the 2008 James Bond thriller Quantum of Solace) has directed this film based on the eponymous novel by Khaled Hosseini, deftly weaving the tragic story of the kite runner with the relentless violence and chaos in Afghanistan over a 22-year period.
Adding to the allure of this Dari/English film is the haunting score by Alberto Iglesias that seems so apposite to the images flashing on the screen.
The story of Afghanistan is one of prolonged nay endless trauma for its proud people.
Riven by tribal, clan, language and political conflicts, the rugged, mountainous land northwest of India has always been a dysfunctional nation.
From the days of Alexander, the people of the accursed land have witnessed repeated invasions. In modern times, the British, the Soviets and lately the Americans have pushed into the Afghans’ land but Afghanistan has never been subdued.
As one of the characters in the movie says in a matter of fact tone, the country has never taken easily to invaders.
But the greatest invasion on the Afghan people is probably by one of their own, the monstrous Taliban with their barbaric religious rules and brutal behavior toward women and children.
Kite Runner starts in 1978 before the Soviet invasion and concludes sometime in 2000 when the Taliban was running, and ruining, the country.
In the movie, embedded within the tragedy of Afghanistan is the tragedy of the kite runner Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), a servant in the home of his friend Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi). The difference in social standing (both in terms of class and tribe) is no barrier to the close friendship between the two boys.
The contrasts between the two boys could not be sharper – Hassan is aggressive, Amir is meek; Hassan is illiterate, Amir is already writing stories; Hassan is poor, Amir is rich; Hassan belongs to the looked down upon Hazara tribe, Amir is from the favored Pashtun tribe.
No divide it seems is strong enough to divide the two boys.
And then an unthinkable horror happens one day when one of the boys goes to retrieve a kite.
The slow, mournful unsteady walk and little drops of blood falling on the white snow easily count among the top heartrending scenes we’ve ever watched on a screen, the most poignant moments of this film.
In a weird poetic sense, it’s as if the horror were a harbinger to another tragedy soon to befall the nation – the invasion by the Soviets.
The film is scorching in its depiction of life in Afghanistan.
Like the rape of a young boy by an older bully or when we see a woman being stoned to death on charges of adultery and her body carelessly flung into the back of a pickup truck like trash or when we hear of the pederastic behavior of some senior Taliban officials.
Much as we were pleased with the story and direction of Kite Runner, the greatest pleasure came from watching the young boys perform with great elan.
The young kid who played Hassan, the servant in his friend Amir’s house, is a natural, gifted actor. Were he in the West, movie-makers would be making a beeline for his home. Alas, the young kid is stuck somewhere in the United Arab Emirates after being forced to leave Afghanistan following threats to his life.
Our great regret is that it took us this long to watch this film.
Although the film is mostly set in Afghanistan, filming could not take place there because of the endemic violence. Instead, Kite Runner was filmed in Kashgar and Tashkurgan in Xinjiang province of China, Beijing and San Francisco.
Kite Runner is available on Netflix DVD and Instant Play with English subtitles.
Your favorite blog SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Kite Runner.
If you love movies as much as we do, then you’ll not hesitate to watch Kite Runner soon.