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Disappointing Film: The Kite Runner

The kite runnerPlease, do not watch the film “The Kite Runner” without reading the book first. I was extremely disappointed at the film, which rid the story from all its human emotional complexities. The book captures your attention and intrigues your curiosity from the very first page. Disappointingly, the movie does not give you that. If there would be one word to describe the film it would be “flat”.

On a trip between California, Peshawar and Kabul, Khaled Hosseini tells us a story of two brothers, a father, and a son, grabbing the reader’s attention from the very beginning with “there is a way to be good again”. We then start a trip into the memories of Amir Jan, the central character of the story, who takes us back with him to his childhood in Kabul, where he reveals to us his darkest secrets. It is in the second half of the book that we are brought again to the present to take another trip through Peshawer in Pakistan to Kabul in Afghanistan and back again to California, where Amir grabs the opportunity to redeem himself and free his conscience from that heavy weight that it had carried for many long years.

Back in the early 1970s Amir lived with his rich father in Kabul. Amir tells us of the time he spent with Hassan, his father’s servant’s son. He spoke of Hassan’s unquestionable loyalty. But also Amir speaks of his jealousy of Hassan. He once heard his father complain to his close friend, Rahim Khan, how Amir never stands for himself and how Hassan always stands for him. He told us how his father never forgot any of Hassan’s birthdays, how he felt Hassan was better than him, how he felt his father saw that. He felt his father would have rather had Hassan as his son. Also, Amir was intimidated by his father's reputation. His father was known as a great, brave man. He was well respected in Kabul as he is known of his generosity, honesty, and integrity. For Amir, Hassan was more of his father's blood than he is. Not to mention, that Amir had felt that his father blamed him for the death of his mother, whom he loved very much.

All these complex emotions within a child led us to Amir's confession of his darkest sin; betrayal and injustice.

With the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, Amir and his father ran off landing in the US. The story continues on how Amir and his father started building a special relationship, now that Hassan is out of the picture, I assume. His father died of cancer and Amir now is married to a lovely Afghani woman.

Just as Amir has started to see the signs of his success as a novelist, Rahim Khan phones him opening the gates for Amir to redeem himself. Now Amir takes us to the present and allows us to accompany him on his journey to redemption. In Peshawar, Amir discovers that he was not alone in carrying a heavy weight. His father also had a dark secret. Actually he discovers that he has been wrong all those years. He is not that different from his father. Amir's journey is that of his father's as well. The "way to be good again" is not an easy one. It is a dangerous journey and it is up to Amir to take it if he really wants to redeem himself and his father. It is a difficult decision to take, but it was one that Amir has taken. Finally, he takes responsibility and ventures into the unexpected.

While it feels that Hosseini has wrapped up the end of the story quickly, passing superficially through many other obstacles that has faced him, there is no doubt that the plot of the novel is intriguing, grasping, and exciting throughout. This was missing in the film.

It was smart of Hosseini to have the story told in first person narration. It is terrifying to reveal our own secrets, ones that we are ashamed of. There is certain bravery in the selection of the novel's narrative form, and obviously a good reason to it. The film again, did not take advantage of this.

khaled hosseinikhaled HosseiniThe film to me, while not really betraying the story, was simply composed of flashes from the novel without going deep into the complexities of the plot. Hosseini, obviously a talented writer, was able to capture the images, and take the reader with him from the beginning to end as if the reader was there watching up close the events as they unfold. The film, should have taken advantage of all modern technologies, music, scenery, and most importantly dialogue to give the same or even a better experience to the audience. Unfortunately it has failed to do so. I don’t know why the director and producer of the film have failed to take advantage of the plot as it was spelt out in the novel. The idea that because it is mostly based in Afghanistan and that in itself should be sufficient in intriguing a western audience to see something they otherwise would not be able to see seems to be the only explanation for such lack of depth. It is truly a disappointment.

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