To be honest I didn't like the sound of "The Kite Runner" when I read the blurb on the back of the DVD, not only did it sound heavy but with it being a tale of friends from Kabul it didn't grab me. But then I watched it and if like me you have not bothered with this highly praised movie then I urge you to reconsider because "The Kite Runner" is one of the most powerful and touching movies I have had the pleasure to watch. Adapted from Khaled Hosseini best selling novel, this is a tale of friendship, betrayal and redemption, a gritty story which is at times uneasy but is so well put together that it draws you into every single second. In fact so powerful is this movie that it makes you want to read the novel, to experience the full story and the bits which have had to be left out in the adaptation.
The way "The Kite Runner" opens reminded me strongly of "Cinema Paradiso" as we enter the story in San Francisco in the year 2000 and a grown up Amir receiving a call with bad news from his Uncle. What follows is Amir remembering back to his childhood and his friendship with Hassan, so close were they that Hassan would do anything for Amir. We watch as they fly kites together, becoming champions at a kite tournament and we also understand the strained relationship which Amir has with his father, a father who fears that his son is a push over and is fond of Hassan because he is strong and courageous. All of which builds to an act of cowardice when Amir witnesses something happen to Hassan, a scene which whilst subtly created is uneasy and intentionally so. This then develops as we watch Amir suffer the guilt of letting Hassan down and in doing so trying to remove him from his life by making him out to be a thief.
The storyline then changes track as we have political unrest in Kabul and Amir and his father Baba forced to flee the country which ends up with them in America. What we watch then is Amir becoming a man; marrying the woman he falls for but the whole time with his father there helping him to be a man. All of which leads to that initial phone call as Amir receives bad news and heads to Pakistan to see his Uncle and then risking his life to return to Kabul in order to repay a debt to Hassan and his son who is in trouble.
That is just a very cut down explanation of what happens because "The Kite Runner" is one of the most well put together stories I have had the pleasure to watch and there is so much depth to every aspect of this story. From Amir and Hassan's friendship to the way Baba relates to both boys everything links together to create a story which borders on epic it is so well crafted.
But at it's heart "The Kite Runner" is a look at cowardice, betrayal and redemption as we follow Amir which starts with him not standing up to protect Hassan despite knowing that Hassan would do the same for him. This leads to Amir's betrayal as unable to deal with the guilt of not protecting his best friend does what ever he can to remove him from his life and in doing so burying that guilt deep down inside till years later when he has to face up to it. But this provides the chance of redemption when he return to Pakistan and Kabul. If I am sounding like I am being skimp in detail I am as you have to watch "The Kite Runner" to truly understand how well put together this story is with events linking and the powerful, emotional journey turning Amir into a man.
But there is more to this than just Amir's journey as on returning to Kabul we get a view of what life was like under the Taliban and the completely different looking Kabul takes you back. When you go from seeing the bustling streets when Amir and Hassan are children, flying their kites, to the desolate ruins left by fighting it just hits home how hard life was in Kabul. I am no expert on the conflict, or what happened but director Marc Forster has done a marvellous job of delivering the grittiness of the situation.
What helps all of this come together is a collection of wonderful performances Zekeria Ebrahimi who plays the young Amir is stunning because he gets across the guilt of betraying his friend, yet Khalid Abdalla is just as good as the adult Amir especially when returning home. In fact all the performances from Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada who plays Hassan through to Homayoun Ershadi as Baba are top notch and each of them create believable characters which you become close to. In fact so good is this that when "The Kite Runner" starts and we are taken back to the 70s and Amir's childhood are initial feelings towards Baba is of mistrust because of his feelings towards his son yet because Baba does come across as a man of honour we warm to him so much.
What this all boils down to is that "The Kite Runner" may not sound like the sort of movie you may enjoy but when watched you won't be disappointed. It is hard hitting and at times uneasy but it is such a brilliant story and such a well put together movie that it just grabs you within the first 5 minutes and never lets you go till the credits role.