The Kite Runner
I was given a copy of the book, The Kite Runner a while back. It looked like an interesting story, but when I came to read it, it gave me the impression that setting the scene was going to take a while. In essence The Kite Runner was going to be a hard road to get into.
So I gave up.
However, my interest in the story was still there, so when I was invited to a screening of The Kite Runner movie, I jumped at the chance. A movie, unlike a book, makes even a hard story easy to get into, because of the accessibility of visual storytelling.
The Kite Runner is a simple story, about simple lives. Lives that are intersected with alarming regularity by tragedy. The story revolves around two childhood friends, Amir (the son of a wealthy father) and Hassan (the son of their head servant) in the years leading up to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
It’s an interesting relationship, where both boys are best friends, but Hassan goes one further and is humble and submissive, knowing his ‘place’ in life. Hassan is also the towns best Kite Runner (You’ll have to watch the movie, but trust me, being the best Kite Runner is a thing of social standing.)
Being nothing more that a servant in some eyes, even a racial outcast, brings trouble for Hassan. In the end, Hassan’s loyalty towards Amir is the catalyst for the defining turning point of the movie. In a scene where Hassan is brutally bullied, we get to witness Amir watching from a distance, too scared to do anything for his friend.
It’s not long before the guilt is overwhelming, and Amir plots to disgrace Hassan so that his father will have to fire his dad, and therefore be rid of the constant reminder of his cowardliness.
He gets his way eventually, but then circumstances for Amir and his father change, forcing them to flee the country, and he eventually finds himself living in America. We find Amir has graduated college and written a book, based no doubt on his experiences growing up in Afghanistan. He’s about to become a best selling author with a book tour when he gets a phone call from the past.
His childhood friend Hassen is dead and his son has been taken by the Taliban. A friend of his father is now asking Amir to make things right and go back to Afghanistan and rescue Hassen’s son.
It’s a chance for redemption, and a chance to grow and become the man his father can see in him.
Transformation is a big theme in The Kite Runner, we see the young boys growing up in a harsh but well tended environment, we see a friendship bloom. But then one incident sees the friendship ripped apart by guilt, similarly, when Amir returns to his childhood town, he sees the destruction wrought by both the Soviets and now the Taliban. What was one paradise to him is now nothing more than a wasteland. Another transformation will take place if Amir can achieve his purpose in life.
The Kite Runner also speaks out against rigid religiosity, and in a memorable attempt to impart wisdom to his son; Amir’s father tells him that there is only one real sin: stealing. He goes on to explain that all other ‘sins’ are really just stealing under a different name. It’s a moment of clarity that is wasted on the son, who doesn’t seem to understand anything.
The beauty of the story is that it revolves around two main characters, but encompasses many issues that are pertinent to today’s world. It shows us many things, but never preaches to us. In essence, The Kite Runner is like a parable told by Jesus; it has many lessons contained in its structure, but to unlock its secrets we have to be willing to listen.
I think I’m going to try reading the book again.
Food for thought
Power exists in serving others.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Violence & Offensive Language.
Duration: 128 mins.
Actors: Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Toub, Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada, Homayoun Ershadi.
Director: Marc Forster.
Release Date: 26-12-2007.