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April 07, 2008
Review - " The Kite Runner " (on DVD) - By Ken Ellis
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A Paramount Classics release.
Directed by Marc Forster.
Screenplay by David Benioff, based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini.
Starring: Khalid Abdalla, Homayoun Ershadi, Zekiria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan

"The Kite Runner" is a film whose reputation preceded itself in that I already knew that it is
a well received award winner. Having known that, my expectations were probably higher
than that of, say, "Norbit". After watching this film on DVD, I can honestly say that it should
be a well received award winner.

It is the story of Amir and Hassan, two young Afghanis. The story begins in San Francisco
in 2000, where successful writer Amir receives a phone call from Pakistan urging him to
return to the region. We are then told the story through flashbacks that take us back to an
Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion or the Taliban, when Amir was a young boy,
growing up in Kabul with his best friend Hassan. The local sport the children enjoy is competitive kite flying, with young
Hassan possessing an uncanny ability to tell exactly where the kites will land long before they hit ground, aka a 'kite
runner'. The two young men are about as close as friends can be until a horrific fate befalls young Hassan that causes
behavioral changes in both children. Soon, they are no longer friends and before you know it, Hassan's father moves his
family out of Kabul. When the Soviets invade, Amir's father, a western style political activist of sorts, also flees Kabul and
winds in in San Francisco with young Amir. While growing up in America, he adopts much western culture, but yet never
really leaves his home country. He lives in a Afghan community, his social contacts are other Afghanis, his father still
maintains many Afghan customs - in short, although the boy might have been taken out of Afghanistan, Afghanistan has
never been taken out of him. Eventually, the film catches up with its own beginning and circumstances force Amir to return
to his native country and come to terms with all that he left. There are some unsettling scenes in this part of the film, even
one that has a Taliban-sponsored stoning of adulterers as halftime entertainment during a soccer match. Amir learns
quickly that the nation he returns to is not the nation he left.

Technically the film is brilliant. Director Forster creates a
cinematographers dream with some wonderful aerial photography
during the kite flying scenes. Although the Afghanistan scenes
were actually filmed in China, one gets a decent idea of what life
was like then, both before the Soviet invasion and after the USSR
has collapsed and the Taliban has taken over and instituted
Islamic law. He is also blessed with some outstanding acting
performances, especially by the two children playing young Amir
and Hassan (Zekiria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada).

A great story told in wonderful fashion by a competent director
leads me to give this film a 7.4. Enjoy!