Apr 04

The Kite Runner (Film Review)

I’ve been complaining recently that there are fewer good movies around. I watched several Oscar nominees in the past months and none proved memorable to me. They were mostly mediocre movies — some I didn’t even finish because they put me to sleep. Finally, I saw The Kite Runner last week and remembered how it felt like to be entertained and touched by a story unfolding on the silver screen.

The Kite Runner is a movie adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s renowned debut novel of the same title. It tells the story of Amir, a rich boy in Kabul, who is haunted by his betrayal of a childhood friend, Hassan — the son of his father’s Hazara servant. Amir is a boy constantly pressured to live up to his father’s standards. Baba, Amir’s father, is a respected man in Kabul. Among his many accomplishments is holding the record for putting down the most number of kites during kite fighting tournaments. Unlike his father, Amir is timid and prefers to read and write stories as a young boy. He reads his stories to Hassan everyday and seemed to be the only one who believed in him. Hassan is also Amir’s kite runner during kite fighting games — a kite runner runs the kite that the winning flyer has cut since it is considered the flyer’s prize. Hassan is one of the best kite runners around since he knows exactly where the cut kite will land, even in the most unlikely places.

The critical part of the story happens when Amir wins the kite flying tournament. After cutting the last kite, everyone cheers for Amir and Hassan runs to get the kite for him. After finding the kite, Hassan runs into Assef, an older boy that constantly bullies Amir and Hassan. Assef tries to get the kite from Hassan but the boy would not give in. As punishment, Assef instructs his friends to hold down Hassan while he sexually assaults him. Amir, on the other hand, follows Hassan’s path wondering what was taking him so long. He sees him while Assef tries to get the kite but hides to watch the scene instead because of fear. Amir witnesses the sexual assault but runs away rather than help Hassan. After the incident, Amir avoids Hassan because of shame and guilt. He also fears that if Baba finds out what a coward he is, his father would love Hassan more than him. Amir eventually frames Hassan as a thief in their house which makes Ali (Hassan’s father) decide to leave the house despite the forgiveness of Baba and his attempts to stop them.

The story will move through the historical events in Afghanistan, from the fall of the monarchy, to the Soviet Invasion, until the Taliban regime. In the end, Amir finds atonement as he risks his life to save Hassan’s only son, Sohrab from the Taliban. I loved the movie because it shows human frailty at its worst. We always see movies showing heroes braving fire, rain, or whatever battle they face with certainty and courage. This movie shows how fear, prejudice, and jealousy can turn any person into a coward. Sometimes we believe that it is so easy to defend someone you love and risk your life for it. Is it really that simple? Can we all be heroes at any moment that we need to be? Like Amir, maybe we can’t be a hero at a snap of a finger. We can only be one the moment we decide to help a friend without any regard to the consequences.

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